Linux fréttir

Georgia Department of Public Safety Hit By Ransomware Attack.

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-08-04 13:34
"A ransomware attack late last week left the Georgia Department of Public Safety and Georgia State Patrol computers offline," reports a local news station. Lt. Stephanie Stallings, GSP spokesperson, said a message popped up on an employee's computer, prompting preventative measures to shut all server networks down. The servers have been offline since [July 26th]. The Georgia State Patrol's tech division, the Georgia Tech Authority, which handles network and serves, is now checking every device in all 52 state patrol post locations across the state to see if more devices are affected.... The state said Georgia Tech Authority is downloading new protective software on all devices, which are purposely offline until further notice. Stallings said it's still business as usual. Staff and officers are doing their jobs in the traditional way using paper that they used in the days before having laptops in patrol cars... News4Jax found there were 184 million ransomware attacks worldwide in 2018 ZDNet reports the attack has crippled laptops installed in police cars across the state. And long-time Slashdot reader McFortner shares their own story: When I went in to get a copy of an accident report this Friday, the officer at the Henry County, GA, police department told me that at least 7 counties in the Atlanta area were hit at the same time and they had no way of knowing when their computers would be back up. They suggest to anybody needing a report to call them first to see if by any chance the system is back up and the report is finished and can be picked up.

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Amazon Quietly Gives Alexa's Voice Recordings a 'No Human Review' Option

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-08-04 11:34
"Amazon Alexa users can now choose whether human reviewers listen to recordings of their exchanges with the AI assistant," reports VentureBeat, citing an Amazon spokesperson. To ensure people don't listen to voice recordings collected following each exchange with Alexa, go to Settings, tap the Alexa Privacy link, then choose Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa. Users can also delete their voice recordings via the Alexa app or Amazon website. The news follows Amazon's introduction of an "Alexa, delete what I said today" voice command in May... Earlier this week, Google and Apple both pledged to suspend some of their voice data review by people.

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Ask Slashdot: Why Do Popular Websites Have Bad UI Navigation?

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-08-04 07:34
A while back some "bored developers and designers" started uploading their ideas for the worst volume control interface in the world. But now Slashdot reader dryriver asks a more serious question: You follow a news story on CNN or BBC or FoxNews or Reuters. The frontpage of the news site changes so frequently that you wish there was a "News Timeline" UI element at the top of the page, letting you scrub back and forward in time (by hours, days, weeks, years) so you can see previous states of the frontpage and get a better sense of how the story developed over time. How many major news websites have this scrubbable Timeline UI element? Currently none do. Or you go on Youtube. Hundreds of millions of videos for you to browse. Except that there are only 3 basic UI elements you can use -- keyword search, automated recommendations panel on the right, or a sortable list of a specific channel's uploaded videos. - There is no visual network or node-diagram UI that would let you browse videos by association. - There is no browsing by category (e.g. sports > soccer > amateurs > kids ) or by alphabetic order. - There is no master index or master list of videos -- like a phonebook -- that you can call up to find videos you haven't come across yet. And yet these UI elements are not very difficult to put in the user's hands at all. Why do websites with tens of millions of daily visitors and massive web development resources do so little to allow more sophisticated browsing for those users who desire it? "Is there a cogent reason to restrict website navigation to 'simple, limited and dumb'," asks the original submission, "or do these websites simply not care enough or bother enough to put more sophisticated UIs into place?" Share your own thoughts in the comments. Why do popular web sites have bad UI navigation?

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Did WhatsApp Backdoor Rumor Come From 'Unanswered Questions ' and 'Leap of Faith' For Closed-Source Encryption Products?

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-08-04 04:34
On Friday technologist Bruce Schneier wrote that after reviewing responses from WhatsApp, he's concluded that reports of a pre-encryption backdoor are a false alarm. He also says he got an equally strong confirmation from WhatsApp's Privacy Policy Manager Nate Cardozo, who Facebook hired last December from the EFF. "He basically leveraged his historical reputation to assure me that WhatsApp, and Facebook in general, would never do something like this." Schneier has also added the words "This story is wrong" to his original blog post. "The only source for that post was a Forbes essay by Kalev Leetaru, which links to a previous Forbes essay by him, which links to a video presentation from a Facebook developers conference." But that Forbes contributor has also responded, saying that he'd first asked Facebook three times about when they'd deploy the backdoor in WhatsApp -- and never received a response. Asked again on July 25th the company's plans for "moderating end to end encrypted conversations such as WhatsApp by using on device algorithms," a company spokesperson did not dispute the statement, instead pointing to Zuckerberg's blog post calling for precisely such filtering in its end-to-end encrypted products including WhatsApp [apparently this blog post], but declined to comment when asked for more detail about precisely when such an integration might happen... [T]here are myriad unanswered questions, with the company declining to answer any of the questions posed to it regarding why it is investing in building a technology that appears to serve little purpose outside filtering end-to-end encrypted communications and which so precisely matches Zuckerberg's call. Moreover, beyond its F8 presentation, given Zuckerberg's call for filtering of its end-to-end encrypted products, how does the company plan on accomplishing this apparent contradiction with the very meaning of end-to-end encryption? The company's lack of transparency and unwillingness to answer even the most basic questions about how it plans to balance the protections of end-to-end encryption in its products including WhatsApp with the need to eliminate illegal content reminds us the giant leap of faith we take when we use closed encryption products whose source we cannot review... Governments are increasingly demanding some kind of compromise regarding end-to-end encryption that would permit them to prevent such tools from being used to conduct illegal activity. What would happen if WhatsApp were to receive a lawful court order from a government instructing it to insert such content moderation within the WhatsApp client and provide real-time notification to the government of posts that match the filter, along with a copy of the offending content? Asked about this scenario, Carl Woog, Director of Communications for WhatsApp, stated that he was not aware of any such cases to date and noted that "we've repeatedly defended end-to-end encryption before the courts, most notably in Brazil." When it was noted that the Brazilian case involved the encryption itself, rather than a court order to install a real-time filter and bypass directly within the client before and after the encryption process at national scale, which would preserve the encryption, Woog initially said he would look into providing a response, but ultimately did not respond. Given Zuckerberg's call for moderation of the company's end-to-end encryption products and given that Facebook's on-device content moderation appears to answer directly to this call, Woog was asked whether its on-device moderation might be applied in future to its other end-to-end encrypted products rather than WhatsApp. After initially saying he would look into providing a response, Woog ultimately did not respond. Here's the exact words from Zuckerberg's March blog post. It said Facebook is "working to improve our ability to identify and stop bad actors across our apps by detecting patterns of activity or through other means, even when we can't see the content of the messages, and we will continue to invest in this work. "

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DoubleTree Hotels Wants The ISS Astronauts To Bake Cookies

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-08-04 01:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Atlantic: The sight of a cookie had never made me grimace until this one showed up in my email inbox. DoubleTree by Hilton, the hotel chain, was announcing that it would soon send a little oven and a batch of cookie dough to the International Space Station so that astronauts could, for the first time, bake chocolate-chip cookies in space. The cookies, which the hotel gives guests for free when they check in, are "the perfect food to make the cosmos a more welcoming place," DoubleTree said. Call me a grump, but the endeavor felt gimmicky, the latest in a long line of attempts to promote a company's product, from Tang to KFC sandwiches, against the dreamy backdrop of outer space... Charles Bourland, a retired NASA scientist, says the agency never tried to develop a space-friendly oven, because it was just too risky. Bourland spent 30 years developing food for astronauts, starting with the Apollo program, before retiring in 1999. "If something catches on fire and starts burning, you're going to have to have some way of overcoming that," Bourland says. "You can't just open the window and let the smoke out." But as I spoke with astronauts and others in the space community, my skepticism about the space cookies softened. Bourland says that many astronauts he worked with liked cooking. And that they missed doing it in space... Those hotel chocolate-chip cookies will be the closest astronauts have come to truly baking something in their high-flying kitchens. NASA says astronauts won't actually eat the cookies, because they are, technically, a science experiment. The treats will be returned home for examination... For the chocolate-chip cookies, astronauts will receive detailed instructions for using the experimental oven, built by NanoRacks, a space company that helps develop experiments for the ISS. They'll also get a heavy-duty oven mitt. "It looks like something you get at a hardware store for welders," says Ian Fichtenbaum, a co-founder of Zero G Kitchen, which paid NanoRacks to develop its oven concept. A payloads manager at NanoRacks predicts that the cookies will be spherical, reports the Atlantic, which adds "Fingers crossed that they don't shed too many crumbs, which are free-floating nuisances on the space station, liable to get swept into air filters and even the crew's lungs.... "The oven cleared NASA safety reviews in the spring and could hitch a ride to the space station on a resupply mission in October."

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Elon Musk Says 'The Boring Company' Will Launch in China This Month

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 23:34
"Elon Musk wants to drill holes in China," reports TechCrunch: Musk is due to speak at an AI conference, called the World Artificial Intelligence Conference, taking place in Shanghai on August 29-31. Replying to a tweet about the event he announced: "Will also be launching The Boring Company China on this trip." Another Twitter user chipped into the conversation to ask whether the company would also do underwater tunnels -- to which Musk replied simply "yes"... Another design that The Boring Company has proposed -- for an ambitious Loop system from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore -- is still on the drawing board, having attracted major safety concerns by failing to meet several key national safety standards, including lacking sufficient emergency exits and not taking note of the latest engineering practices. So perhaps, in looking to expand The Boring Company by taking his spade to the Far East, Musk is hoping for a more accommodating set of building standards to drive an electric truck through. This week the CEO of the Monorail System in Las Vegas also complained to city planning officials that The Boring Company's proposed route there for three underground tunnels "intersects our existing system route, and it appears the presented tunnel alignment interferes with our existing columns...and creates significant concern regarding both vertical and lateral loads."

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Amazon Delivery Drivers Part Of Theft Ring Selling 'Millions' in Stolen Goods on Amazon

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 22:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press: The two contract delivery drivers working for Amazon had a clear-cut assignment: They were supposed to bring packages from a warehouse south of Seattle to a post office for shipping, or sometimes drive to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to pick up items that were being returned to the company. Instead, the FBI said in a search warrant affidavit unsealed last month, they routinely stole the items and sold them at pawn shops. A police detective last summer noticed that one of the drivers had dozens of pawn shop transactions, and thus began an investigation that uncovered a theft ring that sold millions of dollars' worth of stolen goods on Amazon.com in the past six years, the FBI said... Amazon told investigators that Zghair stole about $100,000 worth of property, including gaming systems, sporting goods and computer products -- items he sold to one of the pawn shops for less than $20,000, the agent wrote... Detectives staked out the pawn shops, Innovation Best in Kent and Thrift-Electro in Renton, and observed that they appeared to be paying shoplifters and drug users cash for new items from Home Depot, Lowes and Fred Meyer department stores. Unlike typical pawn shops, they didn't make sales; instead, the products were moved to a warehouse and to Amazon "fulfillment centers," from where they were shipped when they were sold on Amazon's website by sellers using the handles "Bestforyouall" or "Freeshipforyou," the affidavit said. Police say the pawn shops had received 48,000 items over the past six years -- for which they'd paid $4.1 million -- including razors, electric toothbrushes, and allergy medicine.

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AMD Sold 79% of All CPUs in July

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 21:34
An anonymous reader quotes TechRadar: AMD's Ryzen 3000 series processors, spearheaded by the Ryzen 7 3700X, have led what looks like an unprecedented assault on Intel's CPUs, at least going by the figures from one component retailer. The latest stats from German retailer Mindfactory (as highlighted on Reddit) for the month of July show that AMD sold an incredible 79% of all processor units, compared to 21% for Intel. AMD's top-selling chip was the Ryzen 7 3700X, and get this: sales of that one single processor weren't far off equaling the sales of Intel's entire CPU range (at around the 80% mark of what Intel flogged). In June, AMD's overall market share was 68% at Mindfactory, so the increase to 79% represents a big jump, and the highest proportion of sales achieved by the company this year by a long way. To put this in a plainer fashion, for every single processor sold by Intel, AMD sold four. Ryzen 3rd-gen offerings have seemingly sold up a storm in the first couple weeks on shelves, and then slowed down, although that slippage is likely due to stock shortages rather than falling demand (the new flagship Ryzen 9 3900X chip is vanishingly thin on the ground, for example, and is therefore being flogged for extortionate prices on eBay in predictable fashion)... [W]e can throw in as many caveats as we like, but the plain truth (at least from this source) is that AMD's doing better than ever, and grabbing a truly startling proportion of CPU market share -- even with apparent stock issues providing some headwind.

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EFF Warns Proposed Law Could Create 'Life-Altering' Copyright Lawsuits

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 20:34
Forbes reports: In July, members of the federal Senate Judiciary Committee chose to move forward with a bill targeting copyright abuse with a more streamlined way to collect damages, but critics say that it could still allow big online players to push smaller ones around -- and even into bankruptcy. Known as the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (or CASE) Act, the bill was reintroduced in the House and Senate this spring by a roster of bipartisan lawmakers, with endorsements from such groups as the Copyright Alliance and the Graphic Artists' Guild. Under the bill, the U.S. Copyright Office would establish a new 'small claims-style' system for seeking damages, overseen by a three-person Copyright Claims Board. Owners of digital content who see that content used without permission would be able to file a claim for damages up to $15,000 for each work infringed, and $30,000 in total, if they registered their content with the Copyright Office, or half those amounts if they did not. "Easy $5,000 copyright infringement tickets won't fix copyright law," argues the EFF, in an article shared by long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike: The bill would supercharge a "copyright troll" industry dedicated to filing as many "small claims" on as many Internet users as possible in order to make money through the bill's statutory damages provisions. Every single person who uses the Internet and regularly interacts with copyrighted works (that's everyone) should contact their Senators to oppose this bill... [I]f Congress passes this bill, the timely registration requirement will no longer be a requirement for no-proof statutory damages of up to $7,500 per work. In other words, nearly every photo, video, or bit of text on the Internet can suddenly carry a $7,500 price tag if uploaded, downloaded, or shared even if the actual harm from that copying is nil. For many Americans, where the median income is $57,652 per year, this $7,500 price tag for what has become regular Internet behavior would result in life-altering lawsuits from copyright trolls that will exploit this new law.

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Another Breach: What Capital One Could Have Learned From Google's 'BeyondCorp'

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 19:34
"Firewalls can be notoriously and fiendishly difficult to configure correctly, and often present a target-rich environment for successful attacks," writes long-time Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein. "The thing is, firewall vulnerabilities are not headline news -- they're an old story, and better solutions to providing network security already exist." In particular, Google's "BeyondCorp" approach is something that every enterprise involved in computing should make itself familiar with. Right now! BeyondCorp techniques are how Google protects its own internal networks and systems from attack, with enormous success. In a nutshell, BeyondCorp is a set of practices that effectively puts "zero trust" in the networks themselves, moving access control and other authentication elements to individual devices and users. This eliminates traditional firewalls (and in nearly all instances, VPNs) because there is no longer any need for such devices or systems that, once breached, give an attacker access to internal goodies. If Capital One had been following BeyondCorp principles, there'd likely be 100+ million fewer potentially panicky people today.

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C++20 Is Feature Complete

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 18:34
Long-time Slashdot reader mejustme shared this report from Hackaday: If you have an opinion about C++, chances are you either love it for its extensiveness and versatility, or you hate it for its bloated complexity and would rather stick to alternative languages on both sides of the spectrum. Either way, here's your chance to form a new opinion about the language. The C++ standard committee has recently gathered to work on finalizing the language standard's newest revision, C++20, deciding on all the new features that will come to C++'s next major release. After C++17, this will be the sixth revision of the C++ standard, and the language has come a long way from its "being a superset of C" times. Frankly, when it comes to loving or hating the language, I haven't fully made up my own mind about it yet. My biggest issue with it is that "programming in C++" can just mean so many different things nowadays, from a trivial "C with classes" style to writing code that will make Perl look like prose. C++ has become such a feature-rich and downright overwhelming language over all these years, and with all the additions coming with C++20, things won't get easier. Although, they also won't get harder. Well, at least not necessarily. I guess? Well, it's complex, but that's simply the nature of the language... From better type checking and compiler errors messages to Python-like string handling and plans to replace the #include system, there's a lot at play here! The article mentions coroutines, the spaceship operator for three-way comparisons, and "a bunch of additions to lambda expressions," as well as a new keyword constinit and removing limitations on the usage of constexpr. And in addition, "ranges are the new iterators" and concepts "have graduated from being an experimental feature to a full-fledged part of the language standard, allowing the addition of semantic constraints to templates, and ultimately making generic programming a hint more specific."

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Marty the Grocery Store Robot Called 'Ominous', 'Mostly Useless'

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 17:34
By the end of the year, Stop & Shop will have installed 500 "giant, gray, aisle-patrolling robots" in its chains of stores, reports Mashable, starting in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. "Attention shoppers: I've seen the future of grocery store technology, and let me tell you, we can do better." Each of the robots weighs a massive 140-pounds and costs a whopping $35,000. Oddly, all of the robots are named Marty, and atop their tall frames -- which tower over my own 5 foot, 3 inch stature -- rests a large pair of google eyes. You know, so as not to come off as complete faceless, emotionless, lifeless bots. If you're confused as to what these rolling mechanical columns do, Martys also wear the following description on their bodies like a name tag: This store is monitored by Marty for your safety. Marty is an autonomous robot that uses image capturing technology to report spills, debris, and other potential hazards to store employees to improve your shopping experience. Essentially, once Marty identifies a hazard using its sensors, it stops in its tracks, changes its signature operating lights from blue to yellow, and repeatedly announces "caution, hazard detected," in English and Spanish. One of several catches to their existence, however, is that the robots don't actually clean anything... [O]ne of the robot's major flaws that its sensors appear to treat each hazard with the same level of caution. A harmless bottle cap or errant piece of cilantro will elicit the same response as a spill of clear liquid that someone could genuinely slip and injure themselves on, which means that in certain cases an employee may have to take time that could be spent interacting with a customer to walk across the store and grab a puny little grape that escaped a bag. One customer complained on Twitter that the robot "just roams around and makes ominous beeps constantly." And one employee confided told the New Food Economy site that "It's really not doing much of anything besides getting in the way."

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Google Just Stopped Displaying 'www' and 'https' In Chrome's Address Bar

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 16:34
"Google has finally chopped the 'www' from Chrome's address bar after delaying the controversial move due to a backlash," reports TechRepublic: The move to remove 'www' was initially planned for last year, when Google announced it would cut "trivial subdomains" from the address bar in Chrome 69. Now Google has begun truncating the visible URL in Chrome for desktop and Android, rolling out the change in version 76 of the browser, released this week. By default sites in Chrome now no longer display the "https" scheme or the "www" subdomain, with the visible address starting after this point. To view the full URL, users now have to click the address bar twice on desktop and once on mobile. Google has argued the move is driven by a desire for greater simplicity and usability of Chrome... However the announcement provoked a fresh wave of criticism, from those who say the move will confuse users and even potentially make it easier for them to inadvertently connect to fake sites... There are also some who claim Google's motivation in changing how the URL is displayed may be to make it harder for users to tell whether they are on a page hosted on Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages subdomain... Google says it has also built a Chrome extension that doesn't obfuscate the URL to "help power users recognize suspicious sites and report them to Safe Browsing". Despite the backlash from some online, Chrome isn't the first browser to truncate the URL in this way, with Apple's Safari similarly hiding the full address.

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GNOME and KDE Join Forces To Co-Host Linux App Summit

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 15:34
GNOME and KDE are co-hosting this year's Linux App Summit (LAS) in Barcelona from November 12th to 15th. An anonymous reader shared the big announcement: LAS is the first collaborative event co-hosted by the two organizations since the Desktop Summit in 2009. Both organizations are eager to bring their communities together in building an application ecosystem that transcends individual distros and broadens the market for everyone involved. KDE and GNOME will no longer be taking a passive role in the free desktop sector. With the joint influence of the two desktop projects, LAS will shepherd the growth of the FOSS desktop by encouraging the creation of quality applications, seeking opportunities for compensation for FOSS developers, and fostering a vibrant market for the Linux operating system. "I am excited to see GNOME and KDE working together on LAS, and I believe that the event will help lay down strong foundations for collaborative cross-project development that would benefit Linux users across all distributions and on any compatible device." -- Christel Dahlskjaer, Private Internet Access and freenode Project Lead. "Together with GNOME, counting with the collaboration of many distributions and application developers, we'll have the opportunity to work side by side, share our perspectives and offer the platform that the next generation of solutions will be built on." -- Aleix Pol Gonzalez, KDE e.V Vice-President says about the inaugural effort about LAS. "By partnering with KDE we show the desire to build the kind of application ecosystem that demonstrates that Open Source and Free Software are important; the technology and organization we build to achieve this is valuable and necessary." -- GNOME executive director, Neil McGovern "The desktop wars is not really a thing any more. It makes more sense to work together and pool resources." -- Paul Brown, a KDE Communications Specialist (quoted by ZDNet) ZDNet called the collaboration "a major step forward," giving their story the headline "GNOME and KDE work together on the Linux desktop." But the Twitter feed for the KDE community quickly clarified that KDE "is working with GNOME to create a common, fair, sustainable and open app ecosystem, not a desktop." "The GNOME and KDE communities want to provide users with free and open applications that will respect their privacy and rights. That is what Linux App Summit is about."

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Are Nanosheet Transistor the Next (and Maybe Last) Step in Moore's Law?

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 14:34
An anonymous reader quotes IEEE Spectrum: Making smaller, better transistors for microprocessors is getting more and more difficult, not to mention fantastically expensive. Only Intel, Samsung, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) are equipped to operate at this frontier of miniaturization. They are all manufacturing integrated circuits at the equivalent of what is called the 7-nanometer node... Right now, 7 nm is the cutting edge, but Samsung and TSMC announced in April that they were beginning the move to the next node, 5 nm. Samsung had some additional news: It has decided that the kind of transistor the industry had been using for nearly a decade has run its course. For the following node, 3 nm, which should begin limited manufacture around 2020, it is working on a completely new design. That transistor design goes by a variety of names -- gate-all-around, multibridge channel, nanobeam -- but in research circles we've been calling it the nanosheet. The name isn't very important. What is important is that this design isn't just the next transistor for logic chips; it might be the last. There will surely be variations on the theme, but from here on, it's probably all about nanosheets.... All in all, stacking nanosheets appears to be the best way possible to construct future transistors. Chipmakers are already confident enough in the technology to put it on their road maps for the very near future. And with the integration of high-mobility semiconductor materials, nanosheet transistors could well carry us as far into the future as anyone can now foresee.

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Lawsuit Filed Against GitHub In Wake of Capital One Data Breach

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 13:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: Capital One and GitHub have been hit with a class-action lawsuit over the recent data breach that resulted in the data of over 100 million Capital One customers being exposed. The law firm Tycko & Zavareei LLP filed the lawsuit on Thursday, arguing that GitHub and Capital One demonstrated negligence in their response to the breach. The firm filed the class-action complaint on behalf of those impacted by the breach, alleging that both companies failed to protect customer data. Personal information for tens of millions of customers was exposed after a firewall misconfiguration in an Amazon cloud storage service used by Capital One was exploited. The breach exposed around 140,000 Social Security numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers, along with the credit card applications of millions in both the U.S. and Canada. The individual who allegedly perpetrated the data breach, Seattle-based software engineer Paige Thompson, was arrested earlier this week. Thompson, a former Amazon employee, allegedly accessed the data in March and posted about her theft of the information on GitHub in April, according to the complaint. Another GitHub user notified Capital One, which subsequently notified the FBI. The law firm also alleged that computer logs "demonstrate that Capital One knew or should have known" about the data breach when it occurred in March, and criticized Capital One for not taking action to respond to the breach until last month.

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Facebook To Add Its Name To Instagram, WhatsApp

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 10:00
According to The Information, Facebook is planning to add its name to both Instagram and WhatsApp. "The social network will rebrand the apps to 'Instagram from Facebook' and 'WhatsApp from Facebook,'" the report says, citing people familiar with the matter. From the report: Employees for the apps were recently notified about the changes, which come as antitrust regulators are examining Facebook's acquisitions of both apps. The app rebranding is a major departure for Facebook, which until recently had allowed the apps to operate and be branded independently. The distance has helped both apps avoid being tarnished by the privacy scandals that have hurt Facebook. The move to add Facebook's name to the apps has been met with surprise and confusion internally, reflecting the autonomy that the units have operated under. But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also been frustrated that Facebook doesn't get more credit for the growth of Instagram and WhatsApp. Associating those apps with Facebook could improve the overall companies' brand with consumers. The 'from Facebook' branding will be visible inside the apps -- users will see it when they log on, for instance -- and elsewhere, such as in app stores. The report also mentioned that Facebook is bringing employees responsible for Instagram's messaging feature called Direct into the team behind Facebook's standalone Messenger app.

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Satellites Reveal 'Hot Lightning' Strikes Are Most Likely To Start Wildfires

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 07:00
Scientists are using new satellite sensor data, combined with info from the terrestrial U.S. National Lightning Detection Network, to help identify the most dangerous lightning strikes. They found that "hot lightning" is the most dangerous as it can ignite wildfires, damage electrical equipment, and even kill people. Slashdot reader Wave723 shares a report from IEEE Spectrum: With new tools, researchers can now distinguish the most damaging lightning strikes from the many millions of others that occur every year. Already, the U.S. National Lightning Detection Network keeps a record of virtually all lightning that strikes the ground anywhere in the United States. That network is maintained by Helsinki-based Vaisala, which built it 30 years ago and sells the data to the National Weather Service and to utilities, airports, seaports, mines, and sporting arenas. Vaisala operates a global lightning detection network, as well. But the company hasn't been able to make one specific measurement that could provide clues as to how dangerous a given strike is likely to be -- until now. Before the end of this year, Vaisala will debut a beta product that will make this valuable measurement available to clients for the first time. The product (which is now running but is not yet commercially available) combines data from its terrestrial U.S. and global lightning detection networks with new information from a pair of optical sensors, known as Geostationary Lightning Mappers (GLMs). The sensors are currently orbiting Earth aboard two weather satellites that belong to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The company's goal is to use all of this data to detect the presence of a single phenomenon: something called a continuing current, which is thought to occur in about 11 percent of lightning strikes. Lightning that harbors a continuing current is more likely to start fires and damage homes or equipment. Such "hot lightning," as it's called, can be spotted by the Geostationary Lightning Mappers, which detect rapid changes in brightness in the 777.4-nanometer (near infrared) band associated with lightning.

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Scientists Top List of Most Trusted Professionals In US

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 03:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Scientists have topped a survey of trusted professions, with adults in the U.S. more confident that they act in the public's best interests than employees from any other line of work studied. The survey found that confidence in scientists has risen markedly since 2016 and more than half of American adults believe the specialists should be actively involved in policy decisions surrounding scientific matters. The upswing in public trust, a rise of 10 percentage points since 2016, led to 86% of U.S. adults expressing at least a "fair amount" of confidence that scientists put the public interest first. The trust rating placed scientists above politicians, the military, business leaders, school principals and journalists. Trust in non-scientific professions has remained largely stable since 2016 with school heads on 77%, religious leaders on 57%, journalists on 47%, business leaders on 46% and politicians earning the lowest mark at 35%, the survey by the Pew Research Center in Washington DC found.

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Study Finds Living Near Trees, Not Just Green Space, Improves Wellbeing

Slashdot - Sat, 2019-08-03 02:03
According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Network Open, living in neighborhoods with leafy trees is linked to higher levels of wellness. The study found that not all green spaces are created equal, as leafy trees promote higher levels of wellness than abundant green space. CityLab reports: [The researchers] describe a large-scale longitudinal study featuring 46,786 mostly older residents of three Australian urban areas. The subjects were initially interviewed between 2006 and 2009; follow-up reports were taken between 2012 and 2015. At both points, participants were asked to rate their overall health, and noted whether they have ever been diagnosed with, or treated for, anxiety or depression. In addition, they completed a 10-item questionnaire designed to measure their risk of psychological distress. Among other items, they noted how often in recent weeks they had felt "hopeless, rigid, or fidgety," "so sad that nothing could cheer you up," or "worthless." Researchers compared the participants' answers to the natural features of the "mesh block" where their home is located (a geographical unit containing 30 to 60 dwellings). Using satellite imagery, the team calculated both the percentage of total green space and "separate green space types, including tree canopy, grass, or other low-lying vegetation." After taking into account such variables as the participants' age, gender, education, and household income, the researchers were able to confirm the results of previous studies, finding that "total green space appeared to be associated with lower odds of incident psychological distress." More intriguingly, they also found that exposure to low-lying vegetation was not consistently associated with any particular health outcome. Exposure to grass was, surprisingly, associated with higher odds of psychological distress. The wellness-boosting feature, then, appears to be the trees. The researchers report that living in areas where 30 percent or more of the outdoor space is dominated by tree canopy was associated with 31 percent lower odds of psychological distress, compared to people living in areas with 0 to 9 percent tree canopy. "Similar results were found for self-related fair to poor general health," with tree-rich residents reporting better health overall, the researchers write.

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