Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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Submission + - SPAM: Yahoo's Email Spying Nightmare

Lauren Weinstein writes: Just when you’re thinking that the situation couldn’t get worse for once venerable Yahoo — the company has been sold at fire sale prices, they’ve announced historically enormous user account security breaches, and so on — comes word that Yahoo may have permitted mass scanning of users’ email contents by unnamed federal intelligence agencies.

Unattributed, unsourced stories — particularly dramatic ones like this — must be viewed with extreme skepticism. Very often these days some nobody throws out a baseless rumor, it’s mirrored around the Web in minutes, and sometimes is even picked up by mainstream news sources without any sort of realistic fact checking. If every individual or firm subjected to this sort of abuse responded formally to every such unfounded attack, they often wouldn’t have time to do much else.

This Yahoo story is notably different however.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Turn off location services? Go ahead, says Google, we'll still track you

schwit1 writes: Google, it seems, is very, very interested in knowing where you are at all times.

Users have been reporting battery life issues with the latest Android build, with many pointing the finger at Google Play – Google's app store – and its persistent, almost obsessive need to check where you are.

It's not clear why Google would insist on its app store having constant access to your location, but the company is very determined about it. Following reports earlier this year that the Google Play app was interfering with other apps' ability to use GPS, Google has updated the software and now makes it impossible to turn off location tracking.

The same is true of Google Maps. Although it makes far more sense for Maps to have access to your location, the latest build doesn't give you the option of turning it off. To do that, you have to turn off GPS on your phone altogether.

In effect, if you use either of Google's two most popular apps – which come pre-loaded with Google's flavor of Android – the company has permanent access to your location unless you turn off the location setting globally.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Fact checking the DNC email hack

Presto Vivace writes: NSA Whistleblower: Not So Fast On Claims Russia Behind DNC Email Hack

they have not listed intruders or attempted intrusions to the DNC site. I suspect that’s because they did a quick and dirty look for known attacks. Of course, this brings up another question; if it’s a know attack, why did the DNC not have software to stop it? You can tell from the network log who is going into a site. I used that on networks that I had. I looked to see who came into my LAN, where they went, how long they stayed and what they did while in my network.

Further, if you needed to, you could trace back approaches through other servers etc. Trace Route and Trace Watch are good examples of monitoring software that help do these things. Others of course exist probably the best are in NSA/GCHQ and the other Five Eyes countries. But, these countries have no monopoly on smart people that could do similar detection software.

Question is do they want to fix the problems with existing protection software. If the DNC and OPM are examples, then obviously, they don’t care to fix weakness probably because the want to use these weaknesses to their own advantage.

Submission + - Google, Microsoft, Yahoo Join Forces to Create New Encrypted Email Protocol

An anonymous reader writes: A group of independent security researchers and major Silicon Valley tech giants have submitted last Friday a proposal for a new email protocol called SMTP STS (Strict Transport Security). The protocol is to SMTP STARTTLS what HSTS is to HTTPS, meaning it's set to ensure message confidentiality and server authenticity, issues to which STARTTLS is subject to via MitM and SSL/TLS downgrade attacks.

The biggest names on the contributors list include Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Comcast. Last year, Oracle also submitted a similar proposal called DEEP (Deployable Enhanced Email Privacy).

Submission + - Apple Encryption Engineers may quit if ordered to help FBI ( 1

HexaByte writes: Speculation is rife that Apple's encryption engineers and other security related personnel my quit, go on vacation, or just outright refuse to assist the FBI in cracking the i-Phone from the San Bernadino shooting. One of the results of this is is that it would also let Apple as a company off the hook, since it would then be unable to comply.

Submission + - China Bans Windows XP On Government Computers (

judgecorp writes: China has banned installation of Windows 8 on any new government computers. The ban could be a headache for Microsoft, and may be a bargaining tool in China's campaign to extend the life of Windows XP — still running on the vast majorith of Chinese government computers, and something like 70 percent of computers in the country as a whole.

Submission + - China Bans Government Purchases of Windows 8 (

itwbennett writes: Last week, China's Central Government Procurement Center posted a notice on new requirements for government tender, that included, among other things, the mysterious request that Windows 8 be excluded from the bidding process on computer purchases. The agency could not be reached Tuesday, but China's state-controlled Xinhua News Agency said that the government was forbidding the use of Windows 8 after Microsoft recently ended official support for Windows XP.

Submission + - An open letter to the management of Slashdot. 14

onyxruby writes: I have been watch for some time now as Slashdot has started beta testing a new version of the website. As you are well aware the new site would constitute a complete change to the look, interface and functionality of

Change happens, and for those of us who work with technology for a living it is the only constant. Change is a process and in and of itself is not a bad thing when it offers improvement. Unfortunately the change that has been offered negatively impacts the look, interface and most importantly the functionality of Slashdot.
Many people have had trouble reverting back to the classic interface. The new interface simply does not offer the functionality of the old. Things like statistics, comments and layout are very difficult to find. You have a community that lives and breathes data and want to know their data. How is my comment ranked, how many people responded – it’s really all about the dialogue. Can I get the information that I want in a readily digestible format?

As you’re well aware the new site does not offer the very thing that people come here for. This in and of itself is not why your community has organized a boycott of Beta. The boycott was originated because the new version will be implemented whether the community wants it or not.

I want to explain why this change has gone down people’s throats about as well as Windows 8’s Metro interface. The reason has absolutely nothing to do with the interface and everything to do with the perception that the editors and management of Slashdot appear to have.

The message that has been consistently handed down is that we are “your audience”. We are not your “your audience” we are your product. People do not come to Slashdot for the news stories, there are untold other sites that provide those as well as professional and original writing about them. People come here for the community of insiders from across the industry.

Please respect the community and stop what you’re doing. You have commented that you don’t want to maintain two code bases. Your community works in the industry and understands this, which leads many to suggest you abandon the new code base entirely so that you are only maintaining once code base. Tell us what your trying to accomplish and I would imagine that a wide range of experts would be more than willing to help you meet your goals.

Submission + - DNA Patents going to the Supreme Court (

HexaByte writes: The U.S. Supreme Court is getting a case on whether or not patents are valid for human DNA sequences. At issue is whether a company's patent on a human gene that's associated with breast cancer is valid. The company discovered the gene, patented it and is the only legal source of testing for it, because of the patent. Since the gene occurs naturally, (even though only thru mutation) should it be patenetable?

Submission + - US Government Says You Don't Own Your Cloud Data so We Can Access It At Any Time ( 2

jest3r writes: Yesterday the EFF filed a brief proposing a process for the Court in the Megaupload case to hold the government accountable for the actions it took (and failed to take) when it shut down Megaupload's service and denied third parties access to their property. Many businesses used Megaupload's cloud service to store and share files not related to piracy. The government is calling for a long, drawn-out process that would require individuals or small companies to travel to courts far away and engage in multiple hearings just to get their own property back. The government's argument that you lose all your property rights by storing your data on the cloud could apply to Amazon's S3 or Google Apps or or Apple iCloud services as well.

Submission + - NYC Data Center Needs Focus on Fuel (

Nerval's Lobster writes: "Who knew that the most critical element of operating a data center in New York City was ensuring a steady supply of diesel fuel? In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the challenges facing data center operators in the affected zones include pumping water from basements, waiting for utility power to be restored, and managing fuel-truck deliveries. And it’s become increasingly clear which companies had the resources and foresight to plan for a disaster like Sandy, and which are simply reacting. Here’s the latest on providers around the New York area."

Submission + - For-Profit Colleges Only a Con Man Could Love (

Dr Herbert West writes: From the Village Voice "You might not know it, but you're sitting on $117,000. That's basically how much every American is potentially worth in government student aid. Want to attend grad school? Throw in another $114,000."

Between student-aid and GI Bill programs, most for-profit schools receive 90 percent of their revenue from the American taxpayer, which means that even a school with no accreditation has little or no stake in seeing students graduate-- they get paid regardless. Nearly 80 percent of students won't complete their program within six years—almost double the failure rate at traditional schools. You'd think that might be due to the fact that kids today are lazy good-for-nothings-- however, Bridgepoint Education/University of the Rockies (owned by Warburg Pincus, a New York private-equity firm) just 50 full-time faculty members are available to teach 90,000 online students. This is at a school that received its accreditation simply by buying up a Franciscan college in Clinton, Iowa.

Unsurprisingly, three-quarters of all for-profit students are enrolled at schools owned by Wall Street banks and private-equity firms such as Goldman Sachs.

I know I was raised to believe that a college education was key to some measure of financial independence and success-- increasingly it's looking like a predatory scam designed to keep the most vulnerable members of society in a debt spiral without even a degree to show for it.


Submission + - 'Thank God' for Apple's beautiful crystal prisons (

zacharye writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation ruffled some feathers last week when it published a report calling for Apple to adopt a more open model with its mobile and desktop platforms. Apple is hurting users by making use of a closed model with iOS and OS X, which the EFF likened to "beautiful crystal prisons," and also by imposing unnecessary limitations on its devices because the open source community is not being utilized. While a number of people agree with the EFF, highlighting the fact that Android's open source model is part of the reason for its wide adoption among tech savvy consumers, many insist that Apple's closed model is not just a benefit but one of the most important features of its mobile and desktop devices...

Submission + - Rapidshare Fighting Piracy By Slowing Download Speeds (

An anonymous reader writes: File hosting sites have been under increased pressure since the shutdown of Megaupload — both from law enforcement and from the influx of new users. RapidShare, already dealing with a reputation as a facilitator of piracy, has now instituted a policy they hope will drive pirates away: download speed caps for its free service. In a statement to TorrentFreak, the company said, 'RapidShare has been faced with a severe increase in free user traffic and unfortunately also in the amount of abuse of our service ever since, suggesting that quite a few copyright infringers have chosen RapidShare as their new hoster of choice for their illegal activities. We have thus decided to take a painful yet effective step: to reduce the download speed for free users. We are confident that this will make RapidShare very unpopular amongst pirates and thus drive the abusive traffic away.'

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