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Submission + - Tor Phone Is Antidote To Google 'Hostility' Over Android, Says Developer (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Tor Project recently announced the release of its prototype for a Tor-enabled smartphone—an Android phone beefed up with privacy and security in mind, and intended as equal parts opsec kung fu and a gauntlet to Google. The new phone, designed by Tor developer Mike Perry, is based on Copperhead OS, the hardened Android distribution profiled first by Ars earlier this year. "The prototype is meant to show a possible direction for Tor on mobile," Perry wrote in a blog post. "We are trying to demonstrate that it is possible to build a phone that respects user choice and freedom, vastly reduces vulnerability surface, and sets a direction for the ecosystem with respect to how to meet the needs of high-security users." To protect user privacy, the prototype runs OrWall, the Android firewall that routes traffic over Tor, and blocks all other traffic. Users can punch a hole through the firewall for voice traffic, for instance, to enable Signal. The prototype only works on Google Nexus and Pixel hardware, as these are the only Android device lines, Perry wrote, that "support Verified Boot with user-controlled keys." While strong Linux geekcraft is required to install and maintain the prototype, Perry stressed that the phone is also aimed at provoking discussion about what he described as "Google's increasing hostility towards Android as a fully Open Source platform." Copperhead OS was the obvious choice for the prototype's base system, Perry told Ars. "Copperhead is also the only Android ROM that supports verified boot, which prevents exploits from modifying the boot, system, recovery, and vendor device partitions," said Perry in his blog post. "Copperhead has also extended this protection by preventing system applications from being overridden by Google Play Store apps, or from writing bytecode to writable partitions (where it could be modified and infected)." He added: "This makes Copperhead an excellent choice for our base system." The prototype, nicknamed "Mission Improbable," is now ready to download and install. Perry said he uses the prototype himself for his personal communications: "E-mail, Signal, XMPP+OTR, Mumble, offline maps and directions in OSMAnd, taking pictures, and reading news and books." He suggests leaving the prototype in airplane mode and connecting to the Internet through a second, less-trusted phone, or a cheap Wi-Fi cell router.

Submission + - Tesla's solar roof will cost less than a regular roof (electrek.co)

DirkDaring writes: Elon Musk, during the special shareholders meeting to approve the merger with SolarCity, said that he now feels confident that they could deliver their solar roof at a lower cost than a regular roof – even before energy production. The solar roof, according to Musk, would last twice as long a as a normal roof and cost less — including the labor installation costs and without subsidies. If true, it could be a shake-up of the multi-billion dollar roofing industry.

Submission + - Chinese Scientists Become First To Use CRISPR Gene-Editing On Humans (popularmechanics.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A team of Chinese scientists from Sichuan University in Chengdu have become the first to inject a person with cells modified with the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9. The trial involved modifying a patient's own immune system cells to make them more effective at combating cancer cells and then injecting them back into the patient. The Chinese trial was approved back in July, and United States medical scientists also plan to use CRISPR as an experimental treatment for cancer patients in early 2017. The CRISPR-Cas9 "tool" is a DNA construct that can be injected into any organism—in this case, human immune system T cells—to modify the genome of that organism. It works in three steps: an RNA sequence guides the CRISPR construct to the correct part of the organism's DNA, the Cas9 enzyme "cuts out" that segment of DNA, and then, as an optional third step, a new DNA sequence can be inserted to replace the deleted segment of the genome. In the case of the Chinese trial, conducted October 28 at the West China Hospital in Chengdu, only the first two steps of the CRISPR-Cas9 process were carried out. Immune system cells were extracted from a patient with metastatic lung cancer, and then the gene code that produces a protein called PD-1 was deleted by the Cas9 enzyme. PD-1 instructs T cells to stop or slow an immune system response, and cancer cells can take advantage of this protein to trick the body into responding to the ailment with less than full force. Once the PD-1 protein was removed with CRISPR, the edited cells were cultivated to increase their numbers and then injected back into the patient. This is the first of two injections for the patient, and an additional nine patients in the trial will receive between two and four injections of edited cells, depending on their individual conditions.

Submission + - How Stephen Wolfram Figured Out Interstellar Travel in One Night (backchannel.com)

mirandakatz writes: "Arrival" hits theaters tomorrow, and it's heavy on the science. So how might an interstellar spacecraft actually work? Just ask Stephen Wolfram: he was deputized to figure it out. At Backchannel, he writes: "For the movie, I wanted to have a particular theory for interstellar travel. And who knows, maybe one day in the distant future it’ll turn out to be correct. But as of now, we certainly don’t know. In fact, for all we know, there’s just some simple “hack” in existing physics that’ll immediately make interstellar travel possible." Click through for the full (and lengthy) read.

Submission + - Facebook Achieves 20Gbps Data Rate Over MMW Radio Spectrum (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook’s Connectivity Lab has announced that it has achieved data transmission rates of 20Gbps over the millimetre-wave (MMW) section of the radio spectrum; however, the transceiving stations need to be incredibly tightly calibrated to each other, with the team describing the margin for error as equivalent to ‘a baseball pitcher aiming for a strike zone the size of a quarter’.

Submission + - Samsung Is Cutting the Note 7's Access To Mobile Networks In New Zealand (techcrunch.com)

An anonymous reader writes: No one can claim there hasn’t been ample warning. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 saga dragged out over multiple months, encompassing two recalls, several travel bans and then, ultimately, the untimely end for the troubled handset. Even still, some people just have trouble letting go. Starting November 18, Note 7 owners will not be able to connect to mobile networks in New Zealand, courtesy of a joint effort by Samsung and the The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) to “blacklist” the device. No calls, no texts, no mobile data. Users will still be able to access WiFi, but the device will essentially be turned into a big Samsung iPod Touch. Samsung New Zealand added that it will work to contact all remaining Note 7 owners twice prior to the shut down, “to ensure they have received adequate notice.” It remains to be seen whether the company will take similar action in other markets.

Submission + - US Government Releases Federal Code On Open Source Code.Gov

Mickeycaskill writes: The US government has decided to place all Federal source code online in a single repository called Code.gov so that Americans can check out the “people’s code”.

The idea is the brain child of US chief information officer Tony Scott, the former CIO of VMware hired by the Obama administration in February 2015, and follows the publication of the Federal Source Code Policy in August.

In a nutshell, this policy requires any code developed by or for the US federal government, must be released a permissive open source licence, and that the source code must be made publicly available.

“The code for these platforms is, after all, the People’s Code – and today we’re excited to announce that it’ll be accessible from one place, Code.gov, for the American people to explore, improve, and innovate,” said Scott.

It seems that so far the Code.gov repository already contains the source code to nearly 50 open source projects from over 10 agencies.

Submission + - Why Udacity and EdX Want to Trademark the Degrees of the Future (edsurge.com)

jyosim writes: No one owns the term “master’s degree.” But upstart education providers dream of getting a lock on the words for the next generation of online graduate certifications. In April, the nonprofit edX, founded by MIT and Harvard University to deliver online courses by a consortium of colleges, applied for a trademark on the word MicroMasters. Udacity owns the trademark for Nanodegree. And MicroDegree? Yep, that’s trademarked too, by yet another company.
  If every new credential gets its own trademarked name, that could create confusion for employers and students.
And some observers say that old rules may still apply to these new education services. “These people are running headlong into violating state authorization regulations in many states, and I think they’re in denial about that,” argues Russ Poulin, director of policy and analysis for WCET, a nonprofit promoting e-learning programs. “Each state has the ability to say who can and who can’t offer postsecondary education in their state,” he says. “I have to imagine that some state is going to go after them soon.” Officials for Udacity and edX did not respond to requests for comment on that issue.

Submission + - SPAM: Researchers Demo How Adjacent IoT Devices Can Infect Each Other and Spread

penciling_in writes: A team of researchers have released a report detailing a new type of threat in which adjacent IoT devices, such as Internet-connected light bulbs, will infect each other with a worm that will spread explosively over large areas in a kind of nuclear chain reaction. The research group from Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in their paper 'IoT Goes Nuclear' show video footage of their experiment taking control of building lights using an attack kit mounted on a drone flown near the building. They also provide extensive detail of the threat in their paper.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: This search engine remembers literally everything that's been on your computer

schwit1 writes: Our brains often forget where we saw something among the countless tabs and documents on our computers each day.

To make it easier to find things, Seattle-based Atlas Informatics launched Atlas Recall, which lets you search for anything you've ever looked at on your computer.

Atlas Informatics founder and CEO Jordan Ritter calls the software "a photographic memory for your digital life." In a demonstration to CNNMoney, that proved to be a fairly accurate assessment.

Once installed, Atlas Recall displays personalized search results from the app, desktop search, or Google ,search. This includes web pages, emails, Slack chats, Netflix films, Spotify songs, or anything else that's appeared in front of your eyes on your screen.

How does it work? Once installed on your hard drive and browser, Atlas Recall runs in the background and begins collecting your activity. The company captures all the content you've looked at and stores it on its servers.

Governments and lawyers the world over are salivating.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Researchers make a high-performance battery from junkyard scraps (vanderbilt.edu)

Science_afficionado writes: A team of engineers and materials scientists at Vanderbilt University have discovered how to make high-performance batteries using scraps of metal from the junkyard and common household chemicals. The researchers believe their innovation could provide the large amounts of economical electrical storage required by the grid to handle alternative energy sources and may ultimately allow homeowners to build their own batteries and disconnect entirely from the grid.

Submission + - A Radiologist Has the Fastest Home Internet In the US (vice.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Jason Koebler via Motherboard has interviewed James Busch — a radiologist and owner of "the first 10 Gbps residential connection in the United States" — at a coffee shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Motherboard reports: "For reference, the Federal Communications Commission officially classifies 'broadband' as 25 Mbps. His connection is 400 times faster than that. Busch found a way to make good use of his 1 Gbps connection, and now he's found a use for 10 Gbps, too. 'An X-ray averages around 200 megabytes, then you have PET scans and mammograms—3D mammograms are 10 gig files, so they’re enormous,' Busch said. 'We go through terabytes a year in storage. We’ve calculated out that we save about 7 seconds an exam, which might seem like, ‘Who cares,’ but when you read 20,000 or 30,000 exams every year, it turns out to be something like 10 days of productivity you’re saving just from a bandwidth upgrade.' While 10 gig connections sound excessive at the moment, Busch says his family quickly started using all of its 1 gig bandwidth. 'We ballooned into that gig within eight or nine months. With my kids watching Netflix instead of TV, with me working, we did utilize that bandwidth,' he said. 'There were situations where my daughter would be FaceTiming and the others would be streaming on the 4K TVs and they’d start screaming at each other about hogging the bandwidth. We don’t see that at 10 gigs.' So why does Busch have a 10 Gbps and the rest of us don’t? For one, 10 Gbps offerings are rare and scattered in mostly rural communities that have decided to build their own internet networks. Most companies that have the technology offer gigabit connections (a still cutting-edge technology only available in a handful of cities) at affordable prices and 10 Gbps connections at comparatively exorbitant ones. In Chattanooga, 1 gig connections are $69.99 per month; 10 gig connections are $299. Thus far, 10 Gbps connections are available in Chattanooga; parts of southern Vermont; Salisbury, North Carolina; and parts of Detroit and Minneapolis. But besides Busch, I couldn’t find any other people in the United States who have signed up for one. EPB, the Chattanooga government-owned power utility that runs the network, confirmed that Busch is the city’s only 10 Gbps residential customer. Rocket Fiber, which recently began offering 10 Gbps in Detroit, told me that it has 'no customers set in stone,' but that it’s in talks with prospective ones. Representatives for US Internet in Minneapolis and Fibrant in Salisbury did not respond to my requests for comment. Michel Guite, president of the Vermont Telephone Company, told me his network has no 10 Gbps customers, either."

Submission + - AI-Powered Judge Can Accurately Predict Trial Outcomes

Mickeycaskill writes: British computer scientists have devised an artificial intelligence capable of reaching the same decisions as human judges in nearly 80 percent of the cases studied.

Researchers at the University College London (UCL) said their study is the first of its kind and that the technology could be used to improve efficiency at top courts and help lawyers identify patterns.

“We don’t see AI replacing judges or lawyers, but we think they’d find it useful for rapidly identifying patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes,” stated Dr Nikolaos Aletras of UCL’s department of computer science, the paper’s lead researcher.

“It could also be a valuable tool for highlighting which cases are most likely to be violations of the European convention on human rights.”

The study used an algorithm to analyse English-language data for 584 cases presented to the European Court of Human Rights involving torture, degrading treatment and privacy, including equal numbers of cases found to be violations and non-violations.

In 79 percent of the cases assessed, the software reached the same verdict as that delivered by the court.

Submission + - "Most serious" Linux privilege-escalation bug ever is under active exploit (arstechnica.com)

operator_error writes: Lurking in the kernel for nine years, flaw gives untrusted users unfettered root access.

By Dan Goodin — 10/20/2016

A serious vulnerability that has been present for nine years in virtually all versions of the Linux operating system is under active exploit, according to researchers who are advising users to install a patch as soon as possible.

While CVE-2016-5195, as the bug is cataloged, amounts to a mere privilege-escalation vulnerability rather than a more serious code-execution vulnerability, there are several reasons many researchers are taking it extremely seriously. For one thing, it's not hard to develop exploits that work reliably. For another, the flaw is located in a section of the Linux kernel that's a part of virtually every distribution of the open-source OS released for almost a decade. What's more, researchers have discovered attack code that indicates the vulnerability is being actively and maliciously exploited in the wild.

"It's probably the most serious Linux local privilege escalation ever," Dan Rosenberg, a senior researcher at Azimuth Security, told Ars. "The nature of the vulnerability lends itself to extremely reliable exploitation. This vulnerability has been present for nine years, which is an extremely long period of time."

The underlying bug was patched this week by the maintainers of the official Linux kernel. Downstream distributors are in the process of releasing updates that incorporate the fix. Red Hat has classified the vulnerability as "important."

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