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The Almighty Buck

Submission + - The Fed Audit (senate.gov)

An anonymous reader writes: The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Cellphones

Submission + - Verizon Tells Customer To Get A Lawyer & A Sub (techdirt.com) 1

suraj.sun writes: Verizon Tells Customer To Get A Lawyer & A Subpoena To Get An Itemized Bill:

A woman, who called Verizon to try to find out about the $4.19 she was being charged for six local calls, was told by Verizon reps that the only way it would provide her an itemized bill was to get a lawyer and have the lawyer get a subpoena to force Verizon to disclose the information.

Instead, the woman went to court (by herself) and a judge told Verizon to hand over the itemized bill info.

        It is a basic matter of fair business practice that a consumer should be able to contact a utility about a charge on a bill and learn what the charge is for and learn that the charge was correctly applied. The only verification that Verizon's witness could offer that a charge like [the customer's] $4.19 measured use charge was accurate and billed correctly was her faith in the accuracy of Verizon's computer system. The only way that Verizon would offer any information about a past charge in response to a consumer inquiry was to require that customer to hire a lawyer and subpoena their own usage information. By no reasonable standard could this be considered reasonable customer service.

The judge has also suggested Verizon should be fined $1,000 for its failure here, and that suggestion will be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Techdirt: http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20110715/02212815101/verizon-tells-customer-to-get-lawyer-subpoena-to-get-itemized-bill.shtml

Submission + - Can A Monkey Get A Copyright & Issue A Takedow (techdirt.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Last week, the Daily Mail published a story about some monkeys in Indonesia who happened upon a camera and took some photos of themselves. The photos are quite cute. However, Techdirt noticed that the photos had copyright notices on them, and started a discussion over who actually held the copyright in question, noting that, if anyone did, the monkeys had the best claim, and certainly not the photographer. Yet, the news agency who claimed copyright issued a takedown to Techdirt! When presented with the point that its unlikely that news agency, Caters News, holds a legitimate copyright, the agency told Techdirt it didn't matter. Techdirt claims that using the photos for such a discussion is a clear case of fair use, an argument that Caters has so far ignored.
Science

Submission + - Supercomputers Crack Sixty-Trillionth Binary Digit (energy.gov) 1

Dr.Who writes: According to http://blog.energy.gov/blog/2011/04/28/supercomputers-crack-sixty-trillionth-binary-digit-pi-squared, "a value of Pi to 40 digits would be more than enough to compute the circumference of the Milky Way galaxy to an error less than the size of a proton." The article goes on to cite use of computationally complex algorithms to detect errors in computer hardware.

The article references a blog http://experimentalmath.info/blog/2011/03/Pi-goes-on-forever/ which has more background.

Disclaimers: I attended graduate school at U.C. Berkley. I am presently employed by a software company that sells an infrastructure product named PI.

Iphone

Submission + - Apple Lied: Filed Patent for Mobile Device Trackin (infosecisland.com)

Nyder writes: Apple filed for a patent in September of 2009 titled "Location Histories for Location Aware Devices" with the intent to develop services based around the company's ability to locate and track mobile devices running the iOS operating system.

The abstract of the patent reads as follows:

"A location aware mobile device can include a baseband processor for communicating with one or more communication networks, such as a cellular network or WiFi network. In some implementations, the baseband processor can collect network information (e.g., transmitter IDs) over time. Upon request by a user or application, the network information can be translated to estimated position coordinates (e.g., latitude, longitude, altitude) of the location aware device for display on a map view or for other purposes. A user or application can query the location history database with a timestamp or other query to retrieve all or part of the location history for display in a map view."

The patent text goes on to outline how the tracking data could be accessed by applications, indicating Apple intends to build salable services around the collected data and allow third parties the ability to access it:

"A user or application can query the location history database with a timestamp or other query to retrieve all or part of the location history for display in a map view. In some implementations, the size and "freshness" of the location history database can be managed by eliminating duplicate entries in the database and/or removing older entries. The location history can be used to construct a travel timeline for the location aware device. The travel timeline can be displayed in a map view or used by location aware applications running on the location aware device or on a network. In some implementations, an Application Programming Interface (API) can be used by an application to query the location history database."

The patent application then goes on to describe how the location tracking data can include transmitter identifiers that correlate the data to a specific phone — which means a specific user — and how the data can be transmitted to network servers for processing:

"In some implementations, the network information can include transmitter identifiers (IDs). For example, Cell IDs can be tracked and recorded. The Cell IDs can be mapped to corresponding cell tower locations which can be used to provide estimated position coordinates of the location aware device. When a location history is requested by a user or application (e.g., through an API), the transmitter IDs can be translated to position coordinates of the location aware device which can be reverse geocoded to map locations for display on a map view or for other purposes. In other implementations, the network information can include WiFi scan data (e.g., access point IDs) which can be used to determine position coordinates of the location aware device, which can be reverse geocoded for display on a map view. In some implementations, the network information can be sent to a network server, which can translate the network information into position coordinates, which can be returned to the location aware device for processing by a location aware application."

Revelations of the patent application now confirm suspicions that Apple was quite aware of the storage of geolocation tracking data, that it was not merely a database of Wi-Fi locations, and the building of location histories on their customers was not due to a software glitch.

Submission + - Love it or hate it, we must defend Wikileaks (computerworlduk.com)

WebMink writes: "Whether you approve of Wikileaks or not (and the author clearly isn't a fan), the weakness it exposes in web and cloud service provision and the reaction it will provoke from legislators must concern us all. Despite the writer's distaste for Wikileaks (and The Pirate Bay) themselves, the article calls on us to defend their ability to exist against the coming onslaught of Internet-toxic legislation."

Submission + - WikiLeaks - I call bullshit (twitter.com)

shadrach_au writes: "WikiLeaks,org domain killed by US everydns.net after claimed mass attacks" — I call bullshit. Someone, and I'm assuming the US Govt., pressured the DNS provider in question to disable the domain. Whether you agree with WikiLeaks activities or not, this sets a major precedent for global censorship on the Internet.
I've got no doubt the site will come back online, as one of the first major things I learnt about the Internet was the statement, "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it" — It's essentially built into (intentionally or not) every core protocol that enables this international network to function.
Again, whether you agree with WikiLeaks activities or not, this action should not be tolerated.
I'm honestly ashamed.

Submission + - WikiLeaks Under Denial of Service Attack (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: WikiLeaks has reported that its Web site is currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack. The attack comes around the time of an expected release of classified State Department documents, which the Obama administration says will put "countless" lives at risk, threaten global counterterrorism operations and jeopardize U.S. relations with its allies.
Linux

Submission + - Damn Vulnerable Linux most vulnerable Linux ever (geek.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Usually, when installing a new operating system the hope is that it’s as up-to-date as possible. After installation there’s bound to be a few updates required, but no more than a few megabytes. Damn Vulnerable Linux is different, it’s shipped in as vulnerable a state as possible. As the DVL website explains: "Damn Vulnerable Linux (DVL) is everything a good Linux distribution isn’t. Its developers have spent hours stuffing it with broken, ill-configured, outdated, and exploitable software that makes it vulnerable to attacks. DVL isn’t built to run on your desktop – it’s a learning tool for security students."
Firefox

Submission + - Firefox Now IBM’s Default Browser (winars.com)

An anonymous reader writes: IBM now expects all of its 400,000 employees to use Mozilla’s Firefox browser. The news came today from Bob Sutor who is VP IBM Open Source and Linux. Sutor cited Firefox’s open standards, open source-ness, security, extensibility and innovation as the reason behind the move.
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft Busting Its Own Browser+OS Myth (redmondmag.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Longtime Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley used her Redmond magazine column this month to point out that after years of arguing that the browser is "inextricably linked" to the operating system, the company's current push to get users to drop IE 6 for newer versions, plus IE's separate release schedule, are disproving its own argument. From the article: "Microsoft has insisted that its browser is part of Windows, and, ironically, that's coming back to haunt the company. Customers can mix and match different versions of IE with different versions of Windows.....But Microsoft has done very little to get this message out there. I'd argue this is because it makes plain the absurdity of the company's claims that IE is part of Windows."
Encryption

Submission + - The HTTPS Everywhere Firefox Extension (eff.org)

Peter Eckersley writes: EFF and Tor have announced a public beta of HTTPS Everywhere, a Firefox plugin that automatically encrypts your Google searches as well as requests to several other sites, including Wikipedia, Twitter, Identica, Facebook, some major newspapers, and a number of smaller search engines. This plugin makes it much easier to use encryption with sites that support it, but not by default.

For us, this is part of an ongoing campaign to turn the unencrypted web of the past into the encrypted web of tomorrow.

Communications

AT&T Breach May Be Worse Than Initially Thought 102

ChrisPaget writes "I'm somewhat of an authority on GSM security, having given presentations on it at Shmoocon (M4V) and CCC (I'm also scheduled to talk about GSM at this year's Defcon). This is my take on the iPad ICCID disclosure — the short version is that (thanks to a bad decision by the US cell companies, not just AT&T) ICCIDs can be trivially converted to IMSIs, and the disclosure of IMSIs leads to some very severe consequences, such as name and phone number disclosure, global tower-level tracking, and making live interception a whole lot easier. My recommendation? AT&T has 114,000 SIM cards to replace and some nasty architectural problems to fix." Reader tsamsoniw adds that AT&T has criticized the security group responsible for pointing out the flaw, while the group claims they did it 'as a service to our nation.'

Submission + - AT&T breach worse than initially thought? (tombom.co.uk)

ChrisPaget writes: I'm somewhat of an authority on GSM security, having given presentations on it at Shmoocon and CCC (I'm also scheduled to talk about GSM at this year's Defcon). This is my take on the iPad ICCID disclosure — the short version is that (thanks to a bad decision by the US cell companies, not just AT&T) ICCIDs can be trivially converted to IMSIs, and the disclosure of IMSIs leads to some very severe consequences such as name and phone number disclosure, global tower-level tracking, and making live interception a whole lot easier. My recommendation? AT&T have 114,000 SIM cards to replace and some nasty architectural problems to fix.
IT

Submission + - (Not So) Hidden Cost of Avoiding Desktop Linux (infoworld.com)

snydeq writes: "Deep End's Paul Venezia writes in favor of Linux terminal server infrastructures for companies that have high numbers of desktops running only one or two applications. 'Let me be blunt: If you're not using Linux on the desktop in call center and other fixed-purpose computing environments, you're doing your company a disservice,' Venezia writes, noting that a few 12-core servers and a bunch of RAM would be all you need to entirely free those environment from any OS licensing fees. 'With a little elbow grease and some basic know-how, it's likely that you could trim thousands of dollars off the IT budget this way — without reducing any capabilities or functions. So why don't we see this kind of Linux usage more often? Scared IT managers and a lack of skills, primarily. Even though setting up something like this is very simple, it's not a nicely packaged solution that comes with a guy in a suit handing you flashy binders with pictures of smiling users and tchotchkes emblazoned with the company's name. It doesn't have a monthly or yearly software subscription cost. It doesn't have a phone number.'"

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