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Submission + - Trump Wasn't Wrong To Secure @POTUS with a Gmail Account (securityledger.com)

chicksdaddy writes: The world is having a collective freak out about the serial (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/technology/donald-trump-phone-social-media-security.html?_r=0) security lapses (https://www.rt.com/usa/375109-trump-administration-private-server-rnc/) of the newly enshrined Trump administration. That includes the revelation, this week, that the Leader of the Free World is using a lowly Google Gmail account to secure @POTUS, the official Twitter account of the U.S.’s Chief Executive. (https://theintercept.com/2017/01/26/donald-trump-is-using-a-private-gmail-account-to-secure-the-most-powerful-twitter-account-in-the-world/)

For a President and Administration as unconventional as Mr. Trump, the news about how The Most Powerful Twitter Account in the World was being secured was just another data point in a raucous and singularly unprofessional first week in office – the online equivalent of trash talking the United States’ second largest trading partner. (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/26/us/politics/mexico-wall-tax-trump.html)

But is having the Chief Executive’s Twitter account secured by a Google Gmail account really a security lapse? Not necessarily, according to security experts. In fact, Gmail may offer superior security to government-run platforms, The Security Ledger argues. (https://securityledger.com/2017/01/trump-securing-potus-with-gmail-is-reasonable-heres-why/)

“Companies like Google and Microsoft have invested billions of dollars in securing their infrastructure,” said John Ackerly, the CEO at the firm Virtru, a secure email provider. “If want your data to be secure, it’s tough to beat Google, Microsoft or Amazon’s cloud,” he said.

Indeed, Gmail offers a wide range back-end and front end security features that make it among the most difficult platforms to compromise – providing users take advantage of those features. Among them: detection of nation-state attacks, protection against account takeovers, strong encryption for all Gmail data both at rest and in transit, and the availability of strong second-factor authentication options such token based authentication and soft second factors like SMS codes and Google Authenticator.

In contrast, the U.S. government has struggled to secure its own IT assets. In fact, a report by GAO in 2015 listed “personal identity verification” (http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/670936.pdf) as a top cyber security challenge for government agencies. By GAO’s accounting, only 41 percent of user accounts at 23 civilian agencies had required these credentials for accessing agency systems.

Submission + - 85% of the world's governments are corrupt (newatlas.com)

schwit1 writes: According to one think tank that studies corruption in government, 85% of the world lives under governments that are essentially corrupt.

“Corruption” is defined by Transparency International (TI) as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Each year since 1995, TI has published a Corruption Perceptions Index that scores the world’s nations out of 100 for their public sector honesty and the just-released 2016 report paints the same bleak picture we’ve been seeing now for two decades except it’s getting worse.

According to the data, despite the illusion of elected government in half the world’s countries, democracy is losing. Only two countries scored 90 out of 100 this year, and just 54 of the 176 countries (30%) assessed in the report scored better than 50. Fifty percent might have constituted a pass in a High School arithmetic test, but for an elected government to be so inept at carrying out the will of the electorate, it is a clear betrayal of the people. The average country score this year is a paltry 43, indicating endemic corruption in a country’s public sector is the norm.

Even more damning is that more countries declined than improved in this year’s results.

Not surprisingly, the countries at the bottom of the list are almost all Middle Eastern nations, all of whom are the source of most of the world’s terrorism and Islamic madness. The few others are those trying to become communist paradises, Venezuela and North Korea.

Submission + - Fifty years ago today: the Apollo 1 launchpad fire (nasaspaceflight.com)

schwit1 writes:

Fifty years ago Friday, the first – but sadly not the last – fatal spaceflight accident struck NASA when a fire claimed the lives of Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White during a training exercise at Launch Complex 34. The accident, a major setback for the struggling Apollo program, ushered in the first understanding of the “bad day” effects of schedule pressure for spaceflight and brought with it words and reminders that still echo today.

The article provides a very detailed and accurate look at the history and causes of the accident, as well as its consequences, which even today influence American space engineering.

Submission + - Police and FAA Are Making It Impossible To Use Drones To Document Protests (vocativ.com)

schwit1 writes: Last November, an aerial drone flown by a member of the resistance camp opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline captured dramatic footage of riot police blasting crowds with water cannons as temperatures dipped below freezing, sending 17 of the camp’s occupants to the hospital with injuries and hypothermia.

The video quickly spread on social media, spurring global news coverage of the fight against the oil pipeline, which saw activists clash with police and security forces in tense standoffs last year. A few weeks later, the Army Corps of Engineers halted construction of the pipeline, which had encroached on Native American sacred lands and threatened water supplies near North Dakota’s Standing Rock reservation.

It was another example of how drones have become a crucial technology, allowing activists and journalists to document protests and hold police accountable for abuses. But as a new era of civil resistance dawns under the Trump administration, at the Standing Rock site and in anti-Trump demonstrations across the country, drone experts say police and government have made it unnecessarily difficult — sometimes impossible — for civilians to deploy drones at large protests.

Just a few days after the video from Standing Rock went viral, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave permission to local authorities to effectively ban all civilian drone flights in 4 mile radius above the Oceti Sakowin resistance camp and drill site. The same thing happened two years earlier, during the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri: Police were granted what is called a Temporary Flight Restriction, or TFR, which legally restricts airspace above a designated area to law enforcement and emergency aircraft. In Ferguson, the explicit goal was to stop news helicopters and drones from observing the Black Lives Matter protests, where cops were firing tear gas and menacing protesters with military vehicles and weapons.

Submission + - Who is liable if open source autonomous car software causes an accident. (ieee.org)

Registered Coward v2 writes: IEEE Spetrum asks that question in an article about Comma.ai’s and its CEO George Hotz who have released, on GITHub, their open source software for self driving cars. It currently adds capabilities to some Hondas and Acuras. Given the difficulties in testing such software it is possible bugs exist and might cause a crash. While many legal experts agree OSS is "buyer beware" and that Comma.ai and Hotz would not be liable, it is a gray area in the law.

The software is release under the MIT OSS license and the Read Me contains the disclaimer “THIS IS ALPHA QUALITY SOFTWARE FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY. THIS IS NOT A PRODUCT. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMPLYING WITH LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS. NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED.”

SCOTUS,in a series of court cases in the 1990s, ruled open source code as free speech protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The question is does that release the author(s) from liability. The EU has no EU wide rules on liability in such cases.

One open question is even if the person who used the software could not sue, a third party injured by it might be able to since they are not a party to the license agreement.

Submission + - US Air Force Declares F-35A Ready For Combat (defensenews.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday declared its first squadron of F-35As ready for battle, 15 years after Lockheed Martin won the contract to make the plane. The milestone means that the service can now send its first operational F-35 formation — the 34th Fighter Squadron located at Hill Air Force Base, Utah — into combat operations anywhere in the world. The service, which plans to buy 1,763 F-35As, is the single-largest customer of the joint strike fighter program, which also includes the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and a host of governments worldwide. "Given the national security strategy, we need it," [Air Combat Command (ACC) head Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle] said. "You look at the potential adversaries out there, or the potential environments where we have to operate this airplane, the attributes that the F-35 brings — the ability to penetrate defensive airspace, the ability to deliver precision munitions with a sensor suite that fuses data from multiple information sources — is something our nation needs." Carlisle said in July that even though he would feel comfortable sending the F-35 to a fight as soon as the jet becomes operational, ACC has formed a “deliberate path” where the aircraft would deploy in stages: first to Red Flag exercises, then as a “theater security package” to Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The fighter probably won’t deploy to the Middle East to fight the Islamic State group any earlier than 2017, he said, but if a combatant commander asked for the capability, “I’d send them down in a heartbeat because they’re very, very good.”

Submission + - Millennials Are Less Likely To Be Having Sex Than Young Adults 30 Years Ago (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A survey of nearly 27,000 people suggests that millennials are less likely to be having sex than younger adults were 30 years ago. The Guardian reports: "The research, conducted in the U.S., found that the percentage of young adults aged between 20 and 24 who reported having no sexual partner after the age of 18 increased from 6% among those born in the 1960s, to 15% of young adults born in the 1990s. Published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior by researchers from three U.S. universities, the study involved the analysis of data collected through the nationwide General Social Survey that has asked U.S. adults about their sexual behavior almost every year since 1989. The results reveal that young adults aged between 20 and 24 and born in the 1990s were more than twice as likely to report that they had had no sexual partners since the age of 18 than young adults of the same age born in the 1960s. Just over 15% of the 90s-born group reported that they had not had sex since they turned 18, compared to almost 12% of those born in the 1970s or 1980s. For those born in the 60s the figure was just over 6%. The shift [towards increasing abstinence seen among all adults since the 1960s] was greater for white individuals, those who had not gone to university, and those who attended religious services. The trend was also greater for women than for men: the authors found that 2.3% of women born in the 1960s are sexually inactive, compared to 5.4% of those born in the 1990s. That, the authors suggest, could in part be down to a rise in so-called virginity pledges as well as concerns about social stigma.

Submission + - NASA funded project could mine asteroids for water with sunlight (examiner.com)

MarkWhittington writes: One of the more precious resources that asteroid miners are going after is water, something that is in abundance on Earth and, oddly enough, in space as well but not as easily be acquired. Iron, nickel and platinum group metals will certainly be valuable, but future space travelers will need water, not only for drinking, bathing, and agriculture but for rocket fuel. A story in Space.com reports on a new asteroid mining technique being funded by NASA that would use sunlight, concentrated by mirrors, to extract water out of excavated asteroids. The process is called "optical mining."

Submission + - NASA's Resource Prospector mission could land on the moon in 2020 (examiner.com)

MarkWhittington writes: Ever since President Obama foreswore interest in returning to the moon in his April 2010 speech at the Kennedy Space Center, lunar exploration has been on the back burner at NASA. According to a story at Space News, that may change starting around 2020 thanks to a project called RP15, the letters standing for “Resource Prospector,” a rover designed to drill into the lunar regolith and collect samples for analysis. The rover, originating at NASA Ames Research Center, was recently tested on a simulated lunar surface at the Johnson Spaceflight Center south of Houston.

RP15 was built by the same team at JSC that developed Robonaut 2, now being tested on the International Space Station, with the software being written at Ames. The tests at JSC involved the rover being controlled by engineers at NASA Ames, half way across the country in California.

Submission + - Let's Not Go to Mars

HughPickens.com writes: Ed Regis write in the NYT that today we an witnessing an outburst of enthusiasm over the literally outlandish notion that in the relatively near future, some of us are going to be living, working, thriving and dying on Mars. But unfortunately Mars mania reflects an excessively optimistic view of what it actually takes to travel to and live on Mars, papering over many of the harsh realities and bitter truths that underlie the dream. "First, there is the tedious business of getting there. Using current technology and conventional chemical rockets, a trip to Mars would be a grueling, eight- to nine-month-long nightmare for the crew," writes Regis. "Tears, sweat, urine and perhaps even solid waste will be recycled, your personal space is reduced to the size of an SUV., and you and your crewmates are floating around sideways, upside down and at other nauseating angles." According to Regis every source of interpersonal conflict, and emotional and psychological stress that we experience in ordinary, day-to-day life on Earth will be magnified exponentially by restriction to a tiny, hermetically sealed, pressure-cooker capsule hurtling through deep space and to top it off, despite these constraints, the crew must operate within an exceptionally slim margin of error with continuous threats of equipment failures, computer malfunctions, power interruptions and software glitches.

But getting there is the easy part says Regis. "Mars is a dead, cold, barren planet on which no living thing is known to have evolved, and which harbors no breathable air or oxygen, no liquid water and no sources of food, nor conditions favorable for producing any. For these and other reasons it would be accurate to call Mars a veritable hell for living things, were it not for the fact that the planet’s average surface temperature is minus 81 degrees Fahrenheit." These are only a few of the many serious challenges that must be overcome before anyone can put human beings on Mars and expect them to live for more than five minutes says Regis. "The notion that we can start colonizing Mars within the next 10 years or so is an overoptimistic, delusory idea that falls just short of being a joke."

Submission + - Lockheed Martin Unveils Potential U-2 Successor (gizmag.com)

Zothecula writes: The U-2 spy plane was first constructed at Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works in 1955 and went on to become one of the most important intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft of the Cold War. It is one of the few aircraft of its vintage still in active service with the US Air Force, but Lockheed has now unveiled details of its possible successor. Designated the TR-X, the concept aircraft is an improved, stealthier version of the 60-year-old design and could enter service in 10 years.

Submission + - TPP Scuttles Attempts to fix Orphan Works (washingtonpost.com)

jsrjsr writes: David Post, writing at the Volokh Conspiracy blog, describes how the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty may prevent any changes to copyright law regarding orphan works.

Any provision of U.S. law that eliminated “pre-established damage” or “additional damages” for any class of works could be a violation of various TPP provisions requiring that such damages be made available, and it even appears that distribution of orphan works would have to subject the distributor to criminal copyright liability.


Submission + - Is the GNU George Orwell's 1984 Doublespeak? "GNG is Not GNU" exposes details (z505.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The free software foundation has claimed that free software is not about cost, but Richard Stallman has been quoted several places as saying it is in fact about cost. The GPL v2 license makes it a legal contract to offer the software "FREE OF CHARGE" and not free as in speech.

The FSF has had over 1 million dollars in their bank account back in 2001 (not considering inflation) and paid Eben Mogen $280,000 (six figure income) in 2007. Stallman has been quoted as saying "we have been so successful because we have shown we can develop software without any money".

This indeed sounds like a logical contradiction, similar to double speak (free of charge means it is not free of charge, and without money means with money). GNG is Not GNU exposes the Richard Stallman movement as a cult similar to a religion. GNG is not GNU is a recursive joke explained on the GNG website. Is the FSF a modern cult?

Submission + - Commercial crew supporters posit a conspiracy theory involving funding shortages (examiner.com)

MarkWhittington writes: The Space Access Society, a group that advocates for government funded, commercially operated spacecraft, examined the annual fight between supporters of the heavy lift Space Launch System and supporters of the commercial crew program in a recent communique. In the view of the SAS and other commercial crew supporters, Congress, on the behalf of the big rocket supporters, has been shorting funding for the commercial crew spacecraft in favor of the SLS. On the surface there seems to be no reason for this, as the two undertake different missions. The Space Access Society posits a conspiracy theory so immense that at first glance would seem to be in the same class as the Apollo moonlanding hoax, The SAS accuses Space Launch System supporters of trying to arrange the premature end of the International Space Station to free up funding for the big rocket and related projects.

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