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Submission + - Lifeform out of the "Tree of Life" found off the coast of Australia (

Taco Cowboy writes: A mushroom-shaped sea animal discovered off the Tasmanian coast back in 1986 has defied classification in the tree of life

A team of scientists at the University of Copenhagen says the tiny organism does not fit into any of the known subdivisions of the animal kingdom. The organisms, which were originally collected in 1986, are described in the academic journal Plos One. Such a situation has occurred only a handful of times in the last 100 years

The authors of the paper recognise two new species of mushroom-shaped animal: Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides. Measuring only a few millimetres in size, the animals consist of a flattened disc and a stalk with a mouth on the end. The authors of the article note several similarities with the bizarre and enigmatic soft-bodied life forms that lived between 635 and 540 million years ago — the span of Earth history known as the Ediacaran Period. Those organisms, too, have proven difficult to categorise and some researchers have even suggested they were failed experiments in multi-cellular life

During a scientific cruise in 1986, scientists collected organisms at water depths of 400m and 1,000m on the south-east Australian continental slope, near Tasmania. But the two types of mushroom-shaped organisms were recognised only recently, after sorting of the bulk samples collected during the expedition. "Finding something like this is extremely rare, it's maybe only happened about four times in the last 100 years," said co-author Jorgen Olesen from the University of Copenhagen

The new organisms are multicellular but mostly non-symmetrical, with a dense layer of gelatinous material between the outer skin cell and inner stomach cell layers. The researchers did find some similarities to other animal groupings, such as the Cnidaria — the phylum that comprises corals and jellyfish — and the Ctenophora, which includes the marine organisms known as comb jellies. But the new organisms did not fulfil all the criteria required for inclusion in either of those categories. Dr Olesen said the new animals could either be a very early branch on the tree of life, or be intermediate between two different animal phyla

One way to resolve the question surrounding Dendrogramma's affinities would be to examine its DNA, but new specimens will need to be found. The original samples were first preserved in formaldehyde and later transferred to 80% alcohol, a mode of treatment that prevents analysis of genetic material. Accordingly, the team's paper in Plos One calls for researchers around the world to keep an eye out for other examples. "We published this paper in part as a cry for help," said Dr Olesen. "There might be somebody out there who can help place it"

Comment Accountability (Score 5, Insightful) 524

So they got a court opinion that said it was unconstitutional, yet they just ignored it. Someone must be accountable for that! Aren't all US federal officers sworn to uphold the constitution of the United States of America - all the way up to the president? At the very least, someone should be tried for contempt of court. No matter the justification and possible reasons for the NSA program, they can't just ignore the highest law of the land. Or can they? It is a very slippery slope.

Comment A little too easy - sadly (Score 4, Interesting) 179

These attacks are actually a little too easy to effectuate. The drive to outsource to third world countries and lack of training for local staff means that they are all a prime target for a social engineering attacks. It does not take a lot of organised resources to then create the requisite diversion for the often overwhelmed security staff and you have a big win in the pipeline. Of course it requires some skill, but nothing more than a course or two at Blackhat USA will give you. If you also have the benefits of the funds of a large Russian crime syndicate and the personal "motivation" that flows from that, along with an almost zero risk of prosecution due to jurisdictions - hell - why wouldn't you go for it?

The bottom line is that we need to harden up our defences more and more. We may even have to disconnect essential financial infrastructure from the internet and bring it back onto a completely private network that it costs a substantial amount of money to join and be authenticated to. It should come with the proviso that any device connecting to it, could also not be connected to the internet or an unknown intranet device at the same time. This would not be bulletproof, but it would substantially reduce the risk.

Comment Re:Overpriced, have some slightest creativty? (Score 4, Insightful) 132

Not lazy, just time poor. Some of us security professionals haven't got the time to play with distros, find the right drivers, mess around with package levels , find a proper sturdy case and all the rest. We just need a tool. Even the most expensive version of the Pineapple is less than half of what we charge per hour. I only spend time building my own hacking tools when I'm doing something out of the ordinary or if I have to make a hacking device look like it's not one. The things the Pineapple does is just pen-testing for dummies - but sadly, often that is enough to get through. I always start with the basics and move to more complicated attacks only if I have to. Same as any other genuine blackhat out there.

Comment Punishment out of proportions? (Score 5, Insightful) 84

Even though the actions of these low-life, sewer-dwelling misfits angers me, I can't help but wonder why the punishment in the US is on a scale that you wouldn't even get for premeditated murder in most other countries. Aaron Swartz payed the ultimate price for such over the top threats of deprivation of liberty.

At what point does the punishment no longer fit the crime? Sure, confiscate all the profits, bankrupt them, take all their assets and lock them up for a couple of years. But 30-40 years? For real? Why not just send them to Mars or something? Locking them up for 5 years without access to computers would ensure that when they get out their hacking skills would be so redundant they could never do it again.

Isn't the justice system supposed to be about a balance between punishment and reformation - not about revenge?

Comment Re:What's Google's excuse for not patching the N4? (Score 1) 87

Yeah - same here - and never mind that the latest version of Android on my Galaxy Nexus made Bluetooth inoperable in my car too. Google has hundreds of bug reports, but are yet to offer a fix or even acknowledge that there is a problem. Sadly Google are letting the very people down they should be giving most attention: The early adopters and Android enthusiasts.

Submission + - Bifloor suspends trading in Bitcoin indefinetely (

PerformanceDude writes: Bitfloor (a New York based online exchange for Bitcoin) has just made the following announcement on their website:

I am sorry to announce that due to circumstances outside of our control BitFloor must cease all trading operations indefinitely. Unfortunately, our US bank account is scheduled to be closed and we can no longer provide the same level of USD deposits and withdrawals as we have in the past. As such, I have made the decision to halt operations and return all funds.

Over the next days we will be working with all clients to ensure that everyone receives their funds. Please be patient as we process your request.

- Roman
  founder —

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Is it legal to spam a phishing site? 1

MillerHighLife21 writes: I'm at a business that has to deal with a lot of phishing attacks and we've spent a significant amount of time over the last year building security policies to deal with it (Geographic account locking, etc). It's helped to protect accounts when compromised, but the continued phishing is a huge annoyance and a waste of time. I've been wondering about trying to actively become just as much of a pain to them as they are to me by setting up a bot to spam the login forms of phishing sites that our users report to us until we get them taken down. I figure at the very least polluting the data they are gathering could help make it less effective or even potentially just drop in some fake logins that we can use to flag IP addresses that try to login with them. Anybody know if something like that would be legal?

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