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Comment Re:Freedom, horrible freedom! (Score 1) 286

Certainly, because nesting the declaration and if statement in curly braces to use the existing scoping rules of C and not pollute the syntax space is completely impractical. Much better to solve a specific instance of a problem than to use the existing simple solution that solves the entire class of problems.

Submission + - Cisco Finds Backdoor Installed on 12 Million PCs (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: Security researchers from Cisco have come across a piece of software that installed backdoors on 12 million computers around the world. Researchers determined that the application, installed with administrator rights, was capable not only of downloading and installing other software, such as a known scareware called System Healer, but also of harvesting personal information. The software, which exhibits adware and spyware capabilities, was developed by a French online advertising company called Tuto4PC. The “features” have led Cisco Talos to classify the Tuto4PC software as a “full backdoor capable of a multitude of undesirable functions on the victim machine.”

Tuto4PC said its network consisted of nearly 12 million PCs in 2014, which could explain why Cisco’s systems detected the backdoor on 12 million devices. An analysis of a sample set revealed infections in the United States, Australia, Japan, Spain, the UK, France and New Zealand.

Submission + - Microsoft's Windows 10 Upgrade Screen Interrupts Meteorologist's Live Forecast (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: If you're a Windows 7 or Windows 8 user that hasn't yet upgraded to Windows 10 you've probably been bombarded at some point by Microsoft to upgrade, and not always at the most convenient times. At least for one meteorologist, the Windows 10 upgrade prompt came during a very inopportune time — right in the middle of a live weathercast. Metinka Slater, a meteorologist with Des Moines CBS affiliate KCCI 8, was going about her business, giving viewers a rundown of the 12-hour rainfall totals in the area when a nagging Windows 10 upgrade screen popped up, just like it has for thousands of everyday Windows users. But rather than get flustered or give into Microsoft's demands, Slater laughed off the annoyance. "Ahh, Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10. What should I do?" Slater joked. "Don't you love when that pops up?" Some viewers later likened this to some sort of publicity stunt by Microsoft but it seems highly unlikely Redmond would want this kind of press.

Submission + - Language Creation Society filed amicus against Paramount Klingon copyright claim

saizai writes: The LCS has filed an amicus brief in Paramount v. Axanar, opposing Paramount’s claim to copyright in the Klingon language. The brief itself uses copious amounts of Klingon to make the point that a language cannot be copyrighted. (Disclosure: I'm founder of the LCS, directed the litigation, and am press contact for this story. Marc Randazza wrote the brief, pro bono.)

Submission + - Smart Antenna Could Double Smartphone Battery Life By 2018

Mickeycaskill writes: Scottish startup Sofant has received €2m from the EU to commercialise smart antenna technology that promises to significantly improve Wi-Fi performance and halve energy consumption.

The antenna, a product of a programme to create miniaturised satellites, uses software to 'steer' the antenna to the best available signal. Conventional antennas use power less efficiently by simply seeking all channels.

“We call this a smart antenna because it has been designed to seek out the strongest signal and focus on it, rather than the current model that constantly radiates energy in all directions,” said COO Ahmed El-Rayis.

The company says the EU funding will help it bring its technology to mobile devices as early as 2018.

Submission + - German Nuclear Plant Infected with Computer Virus (reuters.com)

archatheist writes: A nuclear power plant in Germany has been found to be infected with computer viruses, but they appear not to have posed a threat to the facility's operations because it is isolated from the Internet, the station's operator said on Tuesday.

Comment Blockly! (Score 1) 414

Toy? My kids are all immersed in "learn to mod" writing Minecraft extensions using Google's Blockly (https://developers.google.com/blockly/). Their other toys get very little love these days.

Submission + - Storing Information with Photons: Non-Volatile Photonic Demonstrated (nature.com)

archatheist writes: The authors of a new paper in Nature Photonics have demonstrated a robust, non-volatile, all-photonic memory based on phase-change materials. "Photonic data storage would dramatically improve performance in existing computing architectures by reducing the latencies associated with electrical memories and potentially eliminating optoelectronic conversions."

Submission + - "Einstein 3" Fooled By "Chinese" Hackers In Massive Government Data Breach (bloomberg.com) 1

schwit1 writes: On Friday, Beijing responded to allegations from Washington that China was responsible for a cyberattack on the US Office of Personnel Management that compromised the personal data of some 4 million government employees.

The accusations, China's foreign ministry said, are "irresponsible" and "groundless."

The OPM breach is the latest in a string of cyber âincidents' that have coincidentally occurred in the wake of the Pentagon's new cyber strategy. Here's a recap:

Since the announcement by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the following cyber âevents have occurred': Penn State reports hackers have been stealing data from the university's DoD-affiliated engineering department for years (blamed on Chinese hacker spies), the IRS says at least 10,000 tax returns have been compromised (blamed on "Russian organized crime syndicates"), and, on Thursday evening, Washington reportswhat may end up being the largest data breach in history (blamed on China). As noted last month, these events represent a remarkable step up the cyber attack accusation ladder compared to Washington's attempt to blame North Korea for cyber-sabotaging James Franco and Seth Rogen last year.

Whether or not the most recent virtual attack on the US did indeed emanate from China or one of Washington's other so-called "cyberadversaries" (the list includes Iran, Russia, and North Korea) will likely never be known the public, but rest assured the blame will be placed with a state actor so as to ensure the DoD has some precedent to refer to when, for whatever reason, the Pentagon decides it's time to deploy an "offensive" cyberattack later on down the road.

Irrespective of where the attack originated, it appears obsolete technology was ultimately to blame, because as Bloomberg reports, "Einstein" wasn't much help in preventing the intrusion.

Via Bloomberg:

The hackers who stole personal data on 4 million government employees from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management sneaked past a sophisticated counter-hacking system called Einstein 3, a highly-touted, multimillion-dollar and mostly secret technology that's been years in the making.

It's behind schedule, the result of inter-agency fights over privacy, control and other matters, and only about half of the government was protected when the hackers raided OPM's databases last December.

It's also, by the government's own admission, already obsolete..

Over the last several months, U.S. officials have said that perimeter-based defenses such as Einstein, even backed by the National Security Agency's own corps of hackers, can never prevent break-ins.

Like banks and technology companies, government agencies must move to a model that assumes hackers will always get in, specialists said. They'll need to buy cutting-edge technologies that can detect intruders inside networks and eject them quickly, before the data is gone.

Of course that likely won't be possible, because after all, no self-respecting bureaucracy processes important initiatives expeditiously and no modern US lawmaking body actually legislates.

Given the slow pace of government acquisition, the inter-agency rivalries and budget fights, though, the initiative may take several years or more to implement, leaving the possibility that the new technology will be old by the time it's installed.

Congress has yet to act on the personnel agency's Feb. 2 request for a $32 million budget increase for fiscal 2016, said Senator Angus King, a Maine independent, in an interview.

"Most of the funds," the agency said, "will be directed towards investments in IT network infrastructure and security."

The latest intrusion points to the need for Congress to pass a cybersecurity bill, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. He stopped short of saying whether the measure would have prevented the OPM breach.

That looks a bit like an attempt on the administration's part to put the blame on an ineffectual Congress, which would seem to be counterproductive at a time when there is clearly a need for less pettiness and more compromise. Some lawmakers were quick to acknowledge this and moved swiftly to rise above Presidential finger-pointing by ... pointing fingers back at the President.

"It's too early to determine at this point what precisely would have prevented this particular cyber-intrusion," Earnest said Friday at a press briefing. "What is beyond argument is that these three pieces of legislation that the president sent to Congress five months ago would significantly improve the cybersecurity of the United States, not just the federal government's cybersecurity, but even our ability to protect private computer networks".

"Where is the leadership?" said Cory Fritz, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican. "The federal government has just been hit by one of the largest thefts of sensitive data in history, and this White House is trying blame anyone but itself. It's absolutely disgusting."

As you can see, everyone appears to be on the same page here as both the Executive and Legislative branches look set to work together on a comprehensive, bipartisan approach to preventing cyber intrusions. Fortunately for the millions of federal employees who are now left to wonder whether or not their personal information is safe on government servers, Defense Secretary Ash Carter may ultimately take matters into his own hands by consulting someone who knows a thing or two about using technology to co-opt personal information:

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter spoke to technology leaders in Palo Alto, California, in April, tossing around ideas for recruiting engineers for temporary missions in government and meeting with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

Have no fear America, Facebook will cyber-protect you from belligerent foreign governments.

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