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Submission + - Slashdot poll: Should Pluto be restored to it's status as a planet?

BarbaraHudson writes: With the issue of Pluto's status as a planet coming up for debate at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas, how would you vote?

1. Pluto is a planet
2. Pluto was never a planet
3. Pluto is a dog and I'm boycotting Disney
4. Are you Sirius?
5. Sure, and let's upgrade he earth and moon as a binary planet system
6. Who cares, as long as we can declare war against it to increase defense spending
7. Who cares, there's no oil there
8. Cowboyneal says "I hear there might be oil there. We need more money for NASA".

Submission + - IEEE-USA opposes efforts to expand the H-1B visa program (ieee.org)

Tekla Perry writes: IEEE USA says H-1B visas are a tool used to avoid paying U.S. wages. "For every visa used by Google to hire a talented non-American for $126,000, ten Americans are replaced by outsourcing companies paying their H-1B workers $65,000," says the current IEEE USA president, writing with the past president and president-elect. The outsourcing companies, Infosys, Cognizant, Wipro, and Tata Consultancy in 2014 "used 21,695 visas, or more than 25 percent of all private-sector H-1B visas used that year. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Uber, for comparison, used only 1,763 visas, or 2 percent," they say. They do support expanding green card programs, stating "America was built by green card holders, not guest workers."

Submission + - Early Apple internal memos found at Seattle thrift shop (blogspot.com)

An anonymous reader writes: "I was at the Seattle Goodwill outlet recently and I noticed the Apple logo on letterhead sticking out from a bin of books, so I started digging. What I found were the 1979-1980 files of Jack MacDonald, manager of system software for the Apple II and /// at the time.

"They tell the story of project "SSAFE" or "Software Security from Apples Friends and Enemies." This was a proposal to bring disk copy protection in-house to sell as a service to outside developers. Inter-office memos, meeting notes and progress reports all give a good idea of what a project life cycle looked like. Different schemes and levels of protection are considered, as well as implementation primarily on the Apple II+ and the upcoming SARA (The Apple ///) and Lisa computers."

Submission + - Study Reveals Bot-On-Bot Editing Wars Raging On Wikipedia's Pages (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new study from computer scientists has found that the online encyclopedia is a battleground where silent wars have raged for years. Since Wikipedia launched in 2001, its millions of articles have been ranged over by software robots, or simply “bots," that are built to mend errors, add links to other pages, and perform other basic housekeeping tasks. In the early days, the bots were so rare they worked in isolation. But over time, the number deployed on the encyclopedia exploded with unexpected consequences. The more the bots came into contact with one another, the more they became locked in combat, undoing each other’s edits and changing the links they had added to other pages. Some conflicts only ended when one or other bot was taken out of action. The findings emerged from a study that looked at bot-on-bot conflict in the first ten years of Wikipedia’s existence. The researchers at Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute in London examined the editing histories of pages in 13 different language editions and recorded when bots undid other bots’ changes. While some conflicts mirrored those found in society, such as the best names to use for contested territories, others were more intriguing. Describing their research in a paper entitled Even Good Bots Fight in the journal Plos One, the scientists reveal that among the most contested articles were pages on former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, the Arabic language, Niels Bohr and Arnold Schwarzenegger. One of the most intense battles played out between Xqbot and Darknessbot which fought over 3,629 different articles between 2009 and 2010. Over the period, Xqbot undid more than 2,000 edits made by Darknessbot, with Darknessbot retaliating by undoing more than 1,700 of Xqbot’s changes. The two clashed over pages on all sorts of topics, from Alexander of Greece and Banqiao district in Taiwan to Aston Villa football club.

Submission + - FBI Has a National Watchlist That Gives Companies Real Time Updates on Employees (theintercept.com)

schwit1 writes: Rap Back has been advertised by the FBI as an effort to target individuals in "positions of trust," such as those who work with children, the elderly, and the disabled. According to a Rap Back spokesperson, however, there are no formal limits as to "which populations of individuals can be enrolled in the Rap Back Service." Civil liberties advocates fear that under Trump's administration the program will grow with serious consequences for employee privacy, accuracy of records, and fair employment practices.

Rap Back has been advertised by the FBI as an effort to target individuals in "positions of trust," such as those who work with children, the elderly, and the disabled. According to a Rap Back spokesperson, however, there are no formal limits as to "which populations of individuals can be enrolled in the Rap Back Service." Civil liberties advocates fear that the program will grow with serious consequences for employee privacy, accuracy of records, and fair employment practices.

Submission + - Trump's Treasury pick appears to be part of a federal investigation (muckrock.com)

v3rgEz writes: Trump's transition strategy of picking some of the shadiest people on earth is still going strong. The latest: According to the FBI, his Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin is involved with an "ongoing investigation", as reported by Mike Best over at the FOIA site MuckRock. Best requested Mnuchin's FBI files, but the request was rejected under the grounds of an open investigation, likely related to Mnuchin's superbly-timed exit from Relativity Media — right before it cratered.

Submission + - Parents sue Apple for toddler's death after a traffic accident. (fox5sandiego.com)

sabri writes: A Texas couple is going after the money by suing Apple for the tragic death of their daughter. How Apple contributed to the girl's death?

Garrett Wilhelm, 22, was able to use FaceTime while driving 65mph on Interstate I-35 near Dallas on Christmas Eve in 2014, when he slammed into the back of someone else's vehicle.

Wait while I sue McDonalds for being fat.

Submission + - Smart Electricity Meters Can Be Dangerously Insecure, Warns Expert (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Smart electricity meters, of which there are more than 100 million installed around the world, are frequently “dangerously insecure," a security expert has said. The lack of security in the smart utilities raises the prospect of a single line of malicious code cutting power to a home or even causing a catastrophic overload leading to exploding meters or house fires, according to Netanel Rubin, co-founder of the security firm Vaultra. If a hacker took control of a smart meter they would be able to know “exactly when and how much electricity you’re using”, Rubin told the 33rd Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg. An attacker could also see whether a home had any expensive electronics. “He can do billing fraud, setting your bill to whatever he likes [...] The scary thing is if you think about the power they have over your electricity. He will have power over all of your smart devices connected to the electricity. This will have more severe consequences: imagine you woke up to find you’d been robbed by a burglar who didn’t have to break in. “But even if you don’t have smart devices, you are still at risk. An attacker who controls the meter also controls the meter’s software, allowing him to cause it to literally explode.” The problems at the heart of the insecurity stem from outdated protocols, half-hearted implementations and weak design principles. To communicate with the utility company, most smart meters use GSM, the 2G mobile standard. That has a fairly well-known weakness whereby an attacker with a fake mobile tower can cause devices to “hand over” to the fake version from the real tower, simply by providing a strong signal. In GSM, devices have to authenticate with towers, but not the other way round, allowing the fake mast to send its own commands to the meter. Worse still, said Rubin, all the meters from one utility used the same hardcoded credentials. “If an attacker gains access to one meter, it gains access to them all. It is the one key to rule them all.”

Submission + - Online Security: 2016 Holiday Shopping Fraud Report Shows Bitcoin Remains Most S (newsbtc.com)

witchfieldaron writes: In the end, it goes to show traditional payment methods suffer from a lot of security issues.
During the 2016 holiday weekend, global online sales have seen a significant nudge upwards. At the same time, payment card fraud increased by a whopping 20%. Consumer’s financial details are always at risk when dealing with payment cards these days. Bitcoin is a far safer option, as there is no sensitive personal information leaked during the transaction process.
The rise in payment fraud during the 2016 holiday shopping season is not surprising. Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw an influx of global customers. However, this transaction volume makes it harder to determine which transactions are legitimate. But the concerns ago much deeper, as five types of fraud reports were filed.
First of all, there is credit card fraud. Everyone knows payment cards are inherently insecure, and provide significant risks to both owner and retailer. Very few companies perform thorough checks of payment card data when processing an order, making life easier for criminals shopping online.
Bitcoin Remains the Safe Way To Shop Online
Identity theft is another major concern, particularly during the holiday season. Vast amounts of personal information are floating around on the Internet, and criminals will sniff out sensitive details with relative ease. Thanks to email scams, which complete the top three, users are often tricked into giving up that type of information as well.
Promotion abuse is another popular trend, although its impact can often be negated. Users will experience annoyance through this type of fraud, but it should not affect them in a significant manner. Account takeover, on the other hand, is far more troublesome. Hacked social media profiles become far more common during the holiday season. Mostly due to consumers being more careless with their passwords.
During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, mobile transactions were on the rise as well. Although mobile devices are commonly used for payments, they are not secure. Malware, scareware, and remote access trojans are just a few of the looming threats. Consumers storing payment information on these devices are at risk at any given time.
In the end, it goes to show traditional payment methods suffer from a lot of security issues. Bitcoin is a more secure solution, as no sensitive information can be obtained by analyzing transactions. Unfortunately, cryptocurrency is not as widespread when it comes to online shopping. But that situation can change at any given moment.

Submission + - No, You Can't Predict Likely Criminals Based On Their Facial Features (backchannel.com)

mirandakatz writes: In a recent paper, researchers Xiaolin Wu and Xi Zhang claim they've found evidence that criminality can be predicted based on facial features—they say they've trained classifiers using various machine learning techniques that were able to distinguish photos of criminals from photos of non-criminals with a high level of accuracy. At Backchannel, Katherine Bailey points out one major flaw with that notion: if human beings can be prone to bias, the machine learning systems they trained can, too.

Submission + - T-Mobile CFO: Repeal of Net Neutrality Would Be 'Positive For My Industry' (tmonews.com)

An anonymous reader writes: T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter spoke at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York City, and he touched a bit on President-elect Donald Trump and what his election could mean for the mobile industry. Carter expects that a Trump presidency will foster an environment that’ll be more positive for wireless. “It’s hard to imagine, with the way the election turned out, that we’re not going to have an environment, from several aspects, that is not going to be more positive for my industry,” the CFO said. He went on to explain that there will likely be less regulation, something that he feels “destroys innovation and value creation.” Speaking of innovation, Carter also feels that a reversal of net neutrality and the FCC’s Open Internet rules would be good for innovation in the industry, saying that it “would provide opportunity for significant innovation and differentiation” and that it’d enable you to “do some very interesting things.”

Submission + - Virginia spent over half a million on cell surveillance that mostly doesn't work (muckrock.com)

v3rgEz writes: In 2014, the Virginia State Police spent $585,265 on a specially modified Suburban outfitted with the latest and greatest in cell phone surveillance: The DRT 1183C, affectionately known as the DRTbox. But according to logs uncovered by public records website MuckRock, the pricey ride was only used 12 times — and only worked 7 of those times. Read the full DRTbox documents at MuckRock.

Submission + - New Report Shows Internet Freedom Declining Worldwide (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A report issued by an independent watchdog organization shows that internet freedom is on the decline worldwide for the sixth straight year. The study by researchers at Freedom House assigned each of 65 countries a Freedom of the Internet (FOTIN) score. The FOTIN score is based on three categories: obstacles to access, which includes infrastructural and economic barriers to the internet; limits to content, and violations of user rights, which covers surveillance, privacy, and repercussions to users who violate internet restrictions. The study found that internet freedom continues to decline as governments increasingly target social media and communication apps to halt dissemination of information among the public.

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