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Encryption

Lavabit Is Relaunching (theintercept.com) 47

The encrypted email service once used by whistleblower Edward Snowden is relaunching today. Ladar Levison, the founder of the encrypted email service Lavabit, announced on Friday that he's relaunching the service with a new architecture that fixes the SSL problem and includes other privacy-enhancing features as well, such as one that obscures the metadata on emails to prevent government agencies like the NSA and FBI from being able to find out with whom Lavabit users communicate. In addition, he's also announcing plans to roll out end-to-end encryption later this year. The Intercept provides some backstory in its report: In 2013, [Levison] took the defiant step of shutting down the company's service rather than comply with a federal law enforcement request that could compromise its customers' communications. The FBI had sought access to the email account of one of Lavabit's most prominent users -- Edward Snowden. Levison had custody of his service's SSL encryption key that could help the government obtain Snowden's password. And though the feds insisted they were only after Snowden's account, the key would have helped them obtain the credentials for other users as well. Lavabit had 410,000 user accounts at the time. Rather than undermine the trust and privacy of his users, Levison ended the company's email service entirely, preventing the feds from getting access to emails stored on his servers. But the company's users lost access to their accounts as well. Levison, who became a hero of the privacy community for his tough stance, has spent the last three years trying to ensure he'll never have to help the feds break into customer accounts again. "The SSL key was our biggest threat," he says.

Submission + - Elite Scientists Have Told the Pentagon That AI Won't Threaten Humanity (vice.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new report authored by a group of independent U.S. scientists advising the US Dept. of Defense (DoD) on artificial intelligence (AI) claims that perceived existential threats to humanity posed by the technology, such as drones seen by the public as killer robots, are at best “uninformed." Still, the scientists acknowledge that AI will be integral to most future DoD systems and platforms, but AI that could act like a human “is at most a small part of AI’s relevance to the DoD mission." Instead, a key application area of AI for the DoD is in augmenting human performance. Perspectives on Research in Artificial Intelligence and Artificial General Intelligence Relevant to DoD, first reported by Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists, has been researched and written by scientists belonging to JASON, the historically secretive organization that counsels the US government on scientific matters. Outlining the potential use cases of AI for the DoD, the JASON scientists make sure to point out that the growing public suspicion of AI is “not always based on fact,” especially when it comes to military technologies. Highlighting SpaceX boss Elon Musk’s opinion that AI “is our biggest existential threat” as an example of this, the report argues that these purported threats “do not align with the most rapidly advancing current research directions of AI as a field, but rather spring from dire predictions about one small area of research within AI, Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)." AGI, as the report describes, is the pursuit of developing machines that are capable of long-term decision making and intent, i.e. thinking and acting like a real human. “On account of this specific goal, AGI has high visibility, disproportionate to its size or present level of success,” the researchers say.

Submission + - Man doxxes laptop thief by taking control remotely and pilfering her Facebook (ibtimes.co.uk)

drunkdrone writes: A Canadian man took matters into his own hands after his laptop was stolen when he logged into it remotely and posted the thief's misdeeds online. Stu Gale, from Cochrane, Alberta, had his computer swiped after leaving it in an unlocked car and days later received a notification informing him that someone had logged onto the device.

The 51-year-old computer security expert tried to access his computer by beginning a remote connection, which allows someone to connect to and take control of a device from another location. To begin with the thief kept closing the pop-up window, but she eventually left the room, unwisely while still logged into her Facebook account.

Space

Galileo Satellites Are Experiencing Multiple Clock Failures (bbc.com) 177

elgatozorbas writes: According to a BBC article, the onboard atomic clocks that drive the satellite-navigation signals on Europe's Galileo network have been failing at an alarming rate. From the report: "Across the 18 satellites now in orbit, nine clocks have stopped operating. Three are traditional rubidium devices; six are the more precise hydrogen maser instruments that were designed to give Galileo superior performance to the American GPS network. Each Galileo satellite carries two rubidium and two hydrogen maser clocks. The multiple installation enables a satellite to keep working after an initial failure. All 18 spacecraft currently in space continue to operate, but one of them is now down to just two clocks. Most of the maser failures (5) have occurred on the satellites that were originally sent into orbit to validate the system, whereas all three rubidium stoppages are on the spacecraft that were subsequently launched to fill out the network. Esa staff at its technical centre, ESTEC, in the Netherlands are trying to isolate the cause the of failures - with the assistance of the clock (Spectratime of Switzerland) and satellite manufacturers (Airbus and Thales Alenia Space; OHB and SSTL). It is understood engineers have managed to restart another hydrogen clock that had stopped. It appears the rubidium failures 'all seem to have a consistent signature, linked to probable short circuits, and possibly a particular test procedure performed on the ground.'"

Submission + - Senate bills ends visa lottery, gives U.S. grads preference (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: A new bill in Congress would give foreign students who graduate from U.S. schools priority in getting an H-1B visa. The legislation also "explicitly prohibits" the replacement of American workers by visa holders. This bill, the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act, was announced Thursday by its co-sponsors, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), longtime allies on H-1B reform. Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which gives this bill an immediate big leg up in the legislative process. This legislation would end the annual random distribution, via a lottery, of H-1B visas, and replace it with a system to give priority to certain types of students. Foreign nationals in the best position to get one of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued annually will have earned an advanced degree from a U.S. school, have a well-paying job offer, and have preferred skills. The specific skills weren't identified, but will likely be STEM-related.
Operating Systems

Oracle Scraps Plans For Solaris 12 (theregister.co.uk) 112

bobthesungeek76036 writes: According to The Register, Solaris 12 has been removed from Oracle roadmaps. This pretty much signals the demise of Solaris (as if we didn't already know that...) From the report: "The new blueprint -- dated January 13, 2017 -- omits any word of Solaris 12 that Oracle included in the same document's 2014 edition, instead mentioning 'Solaris 11.next' as due to debut during this year or the next complete with 'Cloud Deployment and Integration Enhancements.' At the time of writing, search engines produce no results for 'Solaris 11.next.' The Register has asked Oracle for more information. The roadmap also mentions a new generation of SPARC silicon in 2017, dubbed SPARC Next, and then in 2020 SPARC Next+. The speeds and capabilities mentioned in the 2017 document improve slightly on those mentioned in the 2014 roadmap.

Comment Re:Whoah there (Score 1) 22

But in saying it this way, you're attempting to imply you can provide evidence. And I am simply pointing out that there is no reason to even consider that this is a possibility. Don't tell me you will do it later, because that's irrelevant. It's no different than saying nothing at all, or even saying "I have no evidence" or "I cannot provide evidence." They are all exactly equivalent in the end, except that the other methods do not have the implication that you might actually provide the evidence, despite you not giving us a reason to believe that, so it smacks of dishonesty.

Just say nothing at all, unless you have something to contribute. You'll be better off.

Comment Re:It's the media's fault (Score 1) 22

If not for you, then it's not difficult for anybody.

I make no claims about what is not hard for others. I do assert that most people do not do it, regardless of how hard it is.

In this case blaming the media is just doing the democrats' dirty work ...

Yawn. I am uninterested of your characterizations. Either actually make an argument against what I wrote, or do not. So far, you have not.

We all have the same power to turn our backs. You're not that special.

You are not, in any way, arguing against what I wrote.

In theory humans can make the choice.

Of course they can. So? Again: this, in no way whatsoever, implies that the media is not to blame. It just means that we have the power to ignore their bad behavior. But it's still their bad behavior. They are still to blame for it. Obviously.

Comment Re:Whoah there (Score 1) 22

Incorrect. Page views and the like are cash money.

I meant -- obviously -- there is no journalistic or democratic reason to do it. Everything has a reason.

I don't know of any broadly reported unsourced attacks on Hillary Clinton.

Of course not, you don't read the NYT.

So you have no examples, then. Good to know.

Comment Re:Whoah there (Score 1) 22

I'm not talking about evidence, I'm talking about railgunner's assertion that it's "obvious".

I get that, but the main point is that there's no reason to report it in the first place, because there is no evidence ... regardless of how much you think it might be in line with his character to do it.

Besides, it worked so well on Clinton, can you blame anyone for adopting the tactic?

I don't know of any broadly reported unsourced attacks on Hillary Clinton. Can you give an example? The main attacks I know of on her were based on hacked documents that the DNC and others admitted were genuine; on a report by the FBI that no one called into question on the facts (though admittedly we couldn't verify some of those facts, such as that the information Clinton mishandled was actually classified); and so on.

Comment Re:It's the media's fault (Score 1) 22

The media has 'trained' us?

Yes.

Is it really so hard to turn your back?

Not for me, no. I am one of the very few who actively dismisses any unsourced report.

Where is all this *personal responsibility* that you speak of?

Of course, it is our responsibility to ignore unsourced reports. But that doesn't mean the media isn't responsible for incessantly giving those unsourced reports to us ... obviously.

Comment Re:It's the media's fault (Score 1) 22

'Fake news' and the official narrative are frequently synonymous. Why is it the media's fault if people decide to believe them?

Did you not read my comment? I already answered this question: because it's the media that has trained us to believe assertions without evidence.

Comment It's the media's fault (Score 1) 22

The media regularly gives us stories without evidence, without substantiation, and asks us to believe those stories. Then -- I'm shocked! -- people end up believing stories without evidence or substantiation.

Only when we stop paying attention to source-less claims will we solve the problem of "fake news."

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