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Submission + - Hacking Team Uses UEFI BIOS Rootkit (trendmicro.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The dissection of the data from the Hacking Team leak has yielded another critical discovery: Hacking Team uses a UEFI BIOS rootkit to keep their Remote Control System (RCS) agent installed in their targets’ systems. This means that even if the user formats the hard disk, reinstalls the OS, and even buys a new hard disk, the agents are implanted after Microsoft Windows is up and running.

Submission + - The Next Java Update Could Make Yahoo Your Default Search Provider

itwbennett writes: At the company's shareholder meeting on Wednesday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced a partnership with Oracle that could result in Yahoo becoming your default browser. Starting this month, when users are prompted to update to the next version of Java, they'll be asked to make Yahoo their default search engine on Chrome (and Internet Explorer, for what it's worth). And, according to a Wall Street Journal report, the button will be checked by default, so if you aren't looking out for it, you might unwittingly find yourself a Yahoo user.

Submission + - Quantum physics just got less complicated (phys.org)

wabrandsma writes: From phys.org:
Here's a nice surprise: quantum physics is less complicated than we thought. An international team of researchers has proved that two peculiar features of the quantum world previously considered distinct are different manifestations of the same thing. The result is published 19 December in Nature Communications.
Patrick Coles, Jedrzej Kaniewski, and Stephanie Wehner made the breakthrough while at the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore. They found that 'wave-particle duality' is simply the quantum 'uncertainty principle' in disguise, reducing two mysteries to one.

Submission + - EU considers splitting up Google to stop search abuse (v3.co.uk)

DW100 writes: MEPs in Europe want to split Google up to curb its apparent abuse of the search market, although they have no real authority to force Google into any such measures. The move seems to really be a case of putting pressure on the new competition chief to find a way to, in turn, put pressure on Google to come up with search concessions that actually meet its concerns.

Submission + - This app can solve differential equations, just by taking a photo of them (geektime.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Croatian startup MicroBlink built an an app that solves differential equations, just by taking a photo of the equation. If there was concern in higher education about smartphones being used to cheat in exams, now that fear has become even more justified.
The app, called PhotoMath operates in the most intuitive and easy to use manner: You just need to use your smartphone’s camera. After running the app, you aim the camera at the equation or exercise, and within seconds, without even pressing one button, the solution will appear on the screen. Just like that. To reach this level of simplicity, the application uses an advanced and fast OCR algorithm that identifies the characters and digits in front of you instantaneously. But the application does not stop there. If you want, with one click you can see all the steps taken to get to your final answer. The solution can be broken down into the step-by-step actions, and the user can simply browse back and forth between the different steps. The app currently supports arithmetic functions like addition, subtraction, division and multiplication; fractions and decimals; roots and powers; and simple linear equations with one or two unknown variables. Application developers are promising that additional, more complicated functions will be introduced in the near future to solve calculus and combinatorics equations.

Submission + - How the Big Bang's alternatives died

StartsWithABang writes: It’s such a part of our cosmic and scientific history, that it’s difficult to remember that it’s only been for the past 50 years that the Big Bang has been the leading theory-and-model that describes our Universe. Ever since the 1920s, when Edwin Hubble discovered the apparent expansion of our Universe, we’ve recognized that it’s a much bigger place than simply what’s in the Milky Way. But the Big Bang was hardly the only game in town. Yet the discovery of not only the Cosmic Microwave Background, but the detailed measurement of its temperature and spectrum, was able to rule out every single alternative as a non-viable model.

Submission + - The Inevitable Death of the Internet Troll 4

HughPickens.com writes: James Swearingen writes at The Atlantic that the Internet can be a mean, hateful, and frightening place — especially for young women but human behavior and the limits placed on it by both law and society can change. In a Pew Research Center survey of 2,849 Internet users, one out of every four women between 18 years old and 24 years old reports having been stalked or sexually harassed online. "Like banner ads and spam bots, online harassment is still routinely treated as part of the landscape of being online," writes Swearingen adding that "we are in the early days of online harassment being taken as a serious problem, and not simply a quirk of online life." Law professor Danielle Citron draws a parallel between how sexual harassment was treated in the workplace decades ago and our current standard. "Think about in the 1960s and 1970s, what we said to women in the workplace," says Citron. "'This is just flirting.' That a sexually hostile environment was just a perk for men to enjoy, it's just what the environment is like. If you don't like it, leave and get a new job." It took years of activism, court cases, and Title VII protection to change that. "Here we are today, and sexual harassment in the workplace is not normal," said Citron. "Our norms and how we understand it are different now."

According to Swearingen, the likely solution to internet trolls will be a combination of things. The expansion of laws like the one currently on the books in California, which expands what constitutes online harassment, could help put the pressure on harassers. The upcoming Supreme Court case, Elonis v. The United States, looks to test the limits of free speech versus threatening comments on Facebook. "Can a combination of legal action, market pressure, and societal taboo work together to curb harassment?" asks Swearingen. "Too many people do too much online for things to stay the way they are."

Submission + - MIT study finds fault with Mars One colony concept (examiner.com) 2

MarkWhittington writes: The Mars One project created a great deal of fanfare when it was first announced in 2012. The project, based in Holland, aspires to build a colony on Mars with the first uncrewed flight taking place in 2018 and the first colonists setting forth around 2024. The idea is that the colonists would go to Mars to stay, slowly building up the colony in four-person increments every 26-month launch window. However, Space Policy Online on Tuesday reported that an independent study conducted by MIT has poured cold water on the Mars colony idea.

The MIT team consisting of engineering students had to make a number of assumptions based on public sources since the Mars One concept lacks a great many technical details. The study made the bottom line conclusion that the Mars One project is overly optimistic at best and unworkable at worst. The concept is “unsustainable” given the current state of technology and the aggressive schedule that the Mars One project has presented.

Submission + - Oklahoma Lawmaker Suggests Execution by Nitrogen Gas

HughPickens.com writes: The Daily Oklahoman reports that Oklahoma Representative Mike Christian, convinced that execution by injection is quickly becoming unworkable, has been examining an alternate technique — death by nitrogen gas. “We’re going to have to find something else because I think lethal injection, most would agree, is probably on its way out,” says Christian, a former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper. “For lack of a better term, it’s innovative for what we’re looking at.” Legislation would be required because current Oklahoma law requires lethal injection be used for executions, and specifies that if that were found unconstitutional, the electric chair could be used. If the electric chair were found unconstitutional, a firing squad could be used.

Pharmaceutical companies have become reluctant to provide drugs for lethal injections and many doctors don’t want to participate in the process. The lethal injection of Clayton Lockett at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in April went awry, with the condemned man seemingly suffering or taking longer than expected to die. Lockett was pronounced dead about 43 minutes after his execution began and seemed to strain, grimace and moan during the procedure.

Submission + - Former NSA Chief says "Isis are using Snowden leaks to evade intellegence" (dailymail.co.uk) 2

bobbied writes: Former NSA Deputy Chief Chris Ingles claims that the information that Snowden leaked is being used by ISIS to evade intelligence gathering by the NSA. He also said "militants in Iraq and Syria are 'clearly' harder to track down since the rogue agent made freely available a wealth of top-secret information about how the U.S. government hunts its enemies online."

The Ex NSA Deputy Chief is claiming that what was leaked by Snowden goes way beyond what was necessary to expose Snowden's privacy concerns and has severely damaged the NSA's ability to collect intelligence by exposing their methods so they can be evaded.

Submission + - Researchers Say Virtual Reality Time Travel Is Possible

An anonymous reader writes: Much has been said about virtual reality taking viewers to different places, but a recent study takes on another dimension: time. Researchers from the University of Barcelonaput together a virtual reality experience that lets volunteers experience time travel.
According to a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, it worked. Participants felt as if they had travelled back in time and—here's the kicker—that they could change the past.

Submission + - Sickest email scam yet (bbc.co.uk)

Martin S. writes: The BBC is reports how emails purporting to come from NICE (UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) are informing people they have cancer and must open an attachment to find out how to proceed.

However the attachment contains malware.

Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE Chief Executive: “A spam email purporting to come from NICE is being sent to members of the public regarding cancer test results. This email is likely to cause distress to recipients since it advises that ‘test results' indicate they may have cancer. This malicious email is not from NICE and we are currently investigating its origin. We take this matter very seriously and have reported it to the police.” NICE is advising people who have received the email — the subject line of which is important blood analysis result — to delete it without opening it and not to click on any links.

Submission + - AT&T Invented A Way To Charge You Twice For The Same Internet (readwrite.com)

redletterdave writes: In the midst of a raging debate over whether carriers should be allowed to charge more for certain types of data, or let favored developers offer users apps that don’t count against their data caps, AT&T has applied for a patent on a credit system that would let it discriminate between 'permissible' and 'non-permissible' traffic on its network. According to the application, AT&T would be allowed to decide what other content is 'non-permissible'—movies and file-sharing files are just examples—and the carrier could also levy additional fees or terminate the user’s access if they tried to access unauthorized content or exceeded their 'credit allotment.'

Submission + - Leaked: The European Police Plan To Remotely Stop Cars?!

cartechboy writes: We've read about the idea of electromagnetic pulse guns and EMPs being used and or tested to help the police stop cars during a chase. But apparently that stuff is old news already, as a leaked document has revealed that the European Union is working on a plan that could allow police to remotely shut down a vehicle. People, we aren't talking about shutting down a car from the comfort of a squad car, no, we are talking about the idea of shutting down a vehicle from a control room somewhere overseeing the streets via closed-circuit television cameras. According to the leaked document, the technological solution would be a built in standard for all cars that are sold in the European market by the end of the decade. It would allow police to simply power down a vehicle under certain scenarios. The idea behind all this is the fact that it would eliminate dangerous pursuit situations. Of course, this the point where everyone starts discussing whether this invades civil liberties. What's to stop the government from misusing this system?

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