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Submission + - Twitter has a spam bot problem — and it's getting worse (zdnet.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A Romanian spammer is in part behind a sudden surge in fake Twitter followers in recent weeks. But it's not something Twitter seems to want to deal with.

Without a peep from the company (a spokesperson did not respond to our request for comment last week) we set out to find out more on our own. We kept a close eye on a few dozen of these bots over the past week, all of which were created with the same pattern of username (a random name and a few numbers) and were created within the space of an hour or so. In the end, the scheme looked like little more than a cheap shot to promote half-baked dating sites that ask for money to sign up, even though the hapless few who do probably have almost zero chance of getting lucky.

After further investigation, we learned that a Romanian spammer, Laurentiu Ciocoiu (perhaps a pseudonym), is in part behind the recent uptick in these spam bots.

Ciocoiu started earlier this year with his most recent campaign, setting up a complicated network of thousands of fake Twitter accounts that would almost always follow the same pattern: Each account would follow a few dozen legitimate accounts — such as high-profile, verified news publications and celebrities that are presented when the user first opens a Twitter account — and then fake accounts would follow the other fake accounts.

Submission + - Subway Fights Back - In Court, Of Course

jenningsthecat writes: As reported here back in February, the CBC, (Canada's national broadcaster), revealed DNA test results which indicated the chicken used in Subway Restaurants' sandwiches only contained about 50% chicken. Now, Subway is suing the public broadcaster for $210 million, because "its reputation and brand have taken a hit as a result of the CBC reports". The suit claims that "false statements ... were published and republished, maliciously and without just cause or excuse, to a global audience, which has resulted in pecuniary loss to the plaintiffs".

Personally, my working assumption here is that the CBC report is substantially correct. It will be interesting to see how the case plays out — but should this have happened at all? Regulatory agencies here in Canada seem to be pretty good when it comes to inspecting meat processing facilities. Should they also be testing the prepared foods served by major restaurant chains, to ensure that claims regarding food content are true and accurate?

Submission + - What a Trip: First Evidence for Higher State of Consciousness Found (neurosciencenews.com)

baalcat writes: Researchers observe a sustained increase in neural signal diversity in people under the influence of psychedelics.

Scientific evidence of a ‘higher’ state of consciousness has been found in a study led by the University of Sussex.

Neuroscientists observed a sustained increase in neural signal diversity – a measure of the complexity of brain activity – of people under the influence of psychedelic drugs, compared with when they were in a normal waking state.

The diversity of brain signals provides a mathematical index of the level of consciousness. For example, people who are awake have been shown to have more diverse neural activity using this scale than those who are asleep.

This, however, is the first study to show brain-signal diversity that is higher than baseline, that is higher than in someone who is simply ‘awake and aware’. Previous studies have tended to focus on lowered states of consciousness, such as sleep, anaesthesia, or the so-called ‘vegetative’ state.

Submission + - SPAM: Can Parents Sue If Their Kid Is Born With the 'Wrong' DNA?

randomErr writes: In a fascinating legal case out of Singapore, the country's Supreme Court ruled that this situation doesn't just constitute medical malpractice. The fertility clinic, the court recently ruled, must pay the parents 30% of upkeep costs for the child for a loss of 'genetic affinity.' In other words, the clinic must pay the parents' child support not only because they made a terrible medical mistake, but because the child didn't wind up with the right genes.

“It’s suggesting that the child itself has something wrong with it, genetically, and that it has monetary value attached to it,” Todd Kuiken, a senior research scholar with the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University, told Gizmodo. “They attached damages to the genetic makeup of the child, rather than the mistake. That’s the part that makes it uncomfortable. This can take you in all sort of fucked up directions.”

Submission + - Teenager arrested for 'swearing near pensioner' 1

oobayly writes: The Daily Telegraph reports that a Louisiana teenager has been arrested for swearing near 75 year old. According to the the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office the charge is for "DISTURBING THE PEACE / LANGUAGE/ Disorderly Conduct" and that:

While standing next to my 75 year-old complainant, Jared yelled the word "fuck" and clearly disturbed her peace.

As an outsider to the US — who is seriously envious of the 1st Amendment — how is this even an arrest-able office? Given that 43% Slashdot readers describe themselves as liberal/libertarian I doubt that many will support this — especially as Smith is only accused of shouting "fuck", not verbally abusing the lady — but is it likely the Sherif's office actually have a case?

Submission + - The Growing case for Geo-engineering (technologyreview.com)

wisebabo writes: From the I'm-sad-that-it's-coming-to-this department

Well, if you've been following the climate story for the last twenty years, estimates as to how bad it's gonna get keep getting worse not better. If that isn't enough to convince climate change denialists, then perhaps the second consecutive coral bleaching event in the Great Barrier reef should make them reconsider their position. While it may eventually recover (when the temperatures someday return to normal and the seas someday recede) it won't be within the lifetime of humanity. So for all intents and purposes it's gone for good.

Only fools fight in a burning house. (Klingon proverb.) Humanity is just showing why we're fools

Submission + - Teachers can use this to see who's learning (sciencedaily.com)

wisebabo writes: Until now, researchers had not had a good way to study how people actually experienced what is called "epiphany learning."

In new research, scientists at The Ohio State University used eye-tracking and pupil dilation technology to see what happens as people figured out how to win a strategy game on a computer.

"We could see our study participants figuring out the solution through their eye movements as they considered their options," said Ian Krajbich, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology and economics at Ohio State.

"We could predict they were about to have an epiphany before they even knew it was coming."

This might be useful to determine when you are trying to teach a difficult subject to someone who you're afraid might be inclined to just nod their head. Or maybe this is how the Voight-Kampff test works. (Are you a replicant?) http://www.bfi.org.uk/are-you-...

Submission + - Don't eat those chips! (sciencedaily.com) 1

wisebabo writes: Salty diet makes you hungry, not thirsty

In a study carried out during a simulated mission to Mars, an international group of scientists has found exactly the opposite to be true. 'Cosmonauts' who ate more salt retained more water, weren't as thirsty, and needed more energy.

So if you don't want to gain weight on your trip to mars don't eat salty chips. If you don't want to gain weight at home, maybe you should stay away from them as well.

Submission + - SPAM: Artificial intelligence is ripe for abuse, tech researcher warns

randomErr writes: As artificial intelligence becomes more powerful, people need to make sure it’s not used by authoritarian regimes to centralize power and target certain populations, Microsoft Research’s Kate Crawford warned on Sunday. “Just as we are seeing a step function increase in the spread of AI, something else is happening: the rise of ultra-nationalism, rightwing authoritarianism and fascism,” she said. All of these movements have shared characteristics, including the desire to centralize power, track populations, demonize outsiders and claim authority and neutrality without being accountable. Machine intelligence can be a powerful part of the power playbook, she said.

Submission + - Phishing Attack Uses Domains Identical to Known Safe Sites

JThaddeus writes: Current versions of Chrome and Firefox are vulnerable to a phishing attack that uses unicode to fake the appearance of a legitimate website. Additionally fraudsters can use their unicode domain names to get certificates from LetsEncrypt so that the the browser URL is visually indistinguishable from the site it is copying.

Submission + - Trump to Nation: You Can't Handle the White House Visitor Logs Truth (nytimes.com)

theodp writes: In the name of national security, the White House announced Friday that it would cut off public access to visitor logs revealing who is entering the White House complex and which officials they are meeting, which the NY Times explains effectively bars the public from knowing which activists, lobbyists, political donors and others are gaining access to the president and his aides on a daily basis. Hey, it's none of our goldarned business if Google and Microsoft are meeting behind closed White House doors to lobby for a rewrite of the nation's school funding laws that unleashes billions of dollars if it helps advance tech's National Talent Strategy, right?

Submission + - Burger King Won't Take Hint; Alters TV Ad to Evade Google's Block (washingtonpost.com) 1

ewhac writes: Earlier this week, Burger King released a broadcast television ad that opened with an actor saying, "Ok, Google: What is The Whopper?" thereby triggering any Google Home device in hearing range to respond to the injected request with the first line from the Whopper's Wikipedia page. Google very properly responded to the injection attack by fingerprinting the sound sample and blocking it from triggering responses. However, it seems Burger King and/or its ad agency are either unwilling or congenitally incapable of getting the hint, and has released an altered version of the ad to evade Google's block. According to spokesperson Dara Schopp, BK regards the ad as a success, as it has increased the brand's "social conversation" on Twitter by some 300%. It seems that Burger King thinks that malware-laden advertising infesting Web pages is a perfectly wonderful idea (in principle, at least), and taken it to the next level by reaching through your TV speakers and directly messing with your digital devices. You may wish to consider alternate vendors for your burger needs.

Submission + - Inside the Tech Support Scam Ecosystem

Trailrunner7 writes: A team of three doctoral students, looking for insights into the inner workings of tech support scams, spent eight months collecting data on and studying the tactics and infrastructure of the scammers, using a purpose-built tool. What they uncovered is a complex, technically sophisticated ecosystem supported by malvertising and victimizing people around the world.

The study is the first analysis of its kind on tech support scams, and it’s the work of three PhD candidates at Stony Brook University. The team built a custom tool called RoboVic that performed a “systematic analysis of technical support scam pages: identified their techniques, abused infrastructure, and campaigns”. The tool includes a man-in-the-middle proxy that catalogs requests and responses and also will click on pop-up ads, which are key to many tech-support scams.

In their study, the researchers found that the source for many of these scams were “malvertisements”, advertisements on legitimate websites, particularly using ad-based URL shorteners, that advertised for malicious scams. This gives the scammers an opportunity to strike on what would seem like a relatively safe page. Although victims of these scams can be anywhere, the researchers found that 85.4 percentof the IP addresses in these scams were located across different regions of India, with 9.7 percentlocated in the United States and 4.9 percent in Costa Rica. Scammers typically asked users for an average of $291, with prices ranging from $70 to $1,000.

Submission + - Netflix Found To Leak Information On HTTPS-Protected Videos

An anonymous reader writes: TCP/IP headers can leak details about what you are watching on Netflix despite HTTPS protection, according to new cybersecurity research. The study, conducted by Andrew Reed and Michael Kranchof the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, explored Netflix’s implementation of HTTPS and the ability to identify content information in real-time through the passive capture of network traffic. The paper explains that the TCP/IP headers of a Netflix HTTPS stream provide a 99.5% success rate for identifying video content – with the majority of identifications occurring less than two and a half minutes into the video stream. The research found that the variable bitrate (VBR) encoding leaks the contents of a particular flow, despite the use of encryption, notably as the byte-range portion of the HTTP GET commands sent by the browser perfectly align with individual video segment boundaries.

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