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Australia to make Google and Facebook disclose ranking algorithms and pay for local content

TheRegister - Mon, 2020-04-20 00:31
Months of negotiation on voluntary code of conduct didn’t make progress

Australia will force social media companies to pay for content shared on their networks and disclose details of the algorithms that determine what their users see.…

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Will The Pandemic Force Us to Learn How to Cook?

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 23:48
"In one recent survey, 54 percent of respondents said they cook more than before the pandemic," writes a clinical associate professor at NYU's business school: 75 percent said they have become more confident in the kitchen and 51 percent said they will continue to cook more after the crisis ends. Interest in online cooking tutorials, recipe websites and food blogs has surged. Dozens of recipe writers and cookbook authors such as Alison Roman, Jet Tila, and Julia Turshen are frenetically posting ideas and answering questions on Twitter and Instagram. "I feel like this virus is a conspiracy to make me learn how to cook," Eliza Bayne, a television producer tweeted... The search term "online cooking classes" saw a fivefold increase on Google over the past four weeks, and the search title "cook with me" saw a 100 percent increase in average daily views on YouTube in the second half of March. This surge in cooking is meaningful, as people who frequently cook meals at home eat more healthfully and consume fewer calories than those who cook less, according to multiple studies. One of the biggest barriers to cooking frequently is that it takes practice and time to gain proficiency and ease. That initial training time has simply not been available to most Americans, as the pace of life has intensified over the decades. Nor has there been a perceived need to cook because prepared and fast foods were readily available. The pandemic has put everything on pause, and almost every "nonessential" worker, employed or unemployed, is now enrolled in a de facto home economics course... [W]e are acquiring an ancient skill that has been shown to help people live better and longer. If we apply that skill with greater frequency over the long run, it could reduce our risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke... Once life rebounds, we may go back to our previous ways, but our palates will have experienced a reset and our hands would have acquired an artful skill... There will be many lessons from the coronavirus pandemic, but we would be wise not to forget this one. This newfound proficiency could be lifesaving. Of course, he also notes that sales are also up for Hamburger Helper (and other packaged good). But what's your experience been like. Are any Slashdot readers doing more cooking?

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Mild Disney+ Censorship 'Hides a Much Bigger Problem'

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 22:49
There's a scene in the 1984 Tom Hanks movie Splash "showing a brief glimpse of a naked butt..." notes the Verge, "but people watching the movie on Disney Plus are greeted with an entirely different version of the scene." And the Verge sees a larger issue: Disney used CGI hair to cover actress Daryl Hannah's body. A Disney representative confirmed to The Verge that a "few scenes" from Splash were "slighted edited to remove nudity," but they did not specify when the edits were made... Splash has found itself in the middle of an ongoing debate over media being altered in digital spaces. It's a debate that's raged for decades; fans were upset when George Lucas edited A New Hope, making it so Greedo shot first instead of Han. People bemoaned Lucas and 20th Century Fox for not releasing the original version of the film anywhere, either. The only legal versions of A New Hope that exist for people to buy, download, or stream today feature Greedo shooting first. It wasn't just that Lucas and Fox replaced the original scene with a slightly altered one, but the original also wasn't available to purchase when reprints were made... "As physical media gives way to streaming, large corporations have greater and greater control over what we can and cannot see," Slate's Isaac Butler wrote on the issue. "This gives them unprecedented power to disappear bothersome work. "Whether we agree with a particular instance of memory-holing or not, this practice is deeply troubling, its history even more so."

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Will the Pandemic Inspire Silicon Valley to Do Good?

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 21:49
The global pandemic "has stirred up a missionary zeal throughout Silicon Valley," writes Bloomberg: Apple and Google put aside a decadelong rivalry to form an alliance to track the spread of infections. Facebook and Salesforce.com are procuring millions of masks for health care workers. Jeff Bezos is donating $100 million and Jack Dorsey $1 billion. In other corners of the Valley, people are developing test kits and possible vaccines, as well as software to treat the social and economic maladies of the pandemic. Smaller companies have created entirely new business models in response to the virus. The projects can be as simple as an app reminding people to wash their hands or one that connects users with barbers in Brooklyn for lessons on how to cut their hair at home. There's a feeling among some technologists that some of their work in recent years had become mercenary or frivolous — attempts to capitalize on a prolonged tech boom with apps that cater to the whims of wealthy coastal elites, rather than meeting the urgent needs of the rest of the world. "Facebook, Snapchat and the last decade of tech has brought us together in some ways but has also pushed us further away from real life," said Lu, a former creative director at venture capital firm 500 Startups. "The virus is a warning for people in the Bay Area that we can't just come here and take and take. We have to give, too." Tech companies aren't spared from the crisis. Some are cutting jobs and wages, and startups are struggling to raise funds and keep the lights on. But many tech workers can afford to take the hit and see an opportunity to do good — or at least, virtue signal to their peers... One project that raised $1.6 million started with a request to buy dinner for hospital workers. Frank Barbieri, president of Walmart's Art.com, said a friend at UCSF Medical Center asked him and Ryan Sarver, a venture capitalist, to buy pizzas for hospital staff. That quickly morphed into a widely shared Google document where hospital workers could request meals from volunteers. By the end of March, the project attracted 200 software designers and engineers who turned it into a nationwide network called Frontline Foods. Many of these projects offer an antidote to the helplessness people are experiencing, Barbieri said. "We've tapped into this feeling of 'there's nothing I can do to be productive and useful,'" he said. "Well, here's something you can do."

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The Most Widespread COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories Target Bill Gates

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 20:45
In a 2015 speech, Bill Gates tried to warn that the greatest thread to humanity was an infectious virus, reports the New York Times. "Anti-vaccinators, members of the conspiracy group QAnon and right-wing pundits have instead seized on the video as evidence that one of the world's richest men planned to use a pandemic to wrest control of the global health system." In posts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, he is being falsely portrayed as the creator of Covid-19, as a profiteer from a virus vaccine, and as part of a dastardly plot to use the illness to cull or surveil the global population. The wild claims have gained traction with conservative pundits like Laura Ingraham and anti-vaccinators such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as Mr. Gates has emerged as a vocal counterweight to President Trump on the coronavirus...Misinformation about Mr. Gates is now the most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods tracked by Zignal Labs, a media analysis company. The misinformation includes more than 16,000 posts on Facebook this year about Mr. Gates and the virus that were liked and commented on nearly 900,000 times, according to a New York Times analysis. On YouTube, the 10 most popular videos spreading lies about Mr. Gates posted in March and April were viewed almost five million times.... "Bill Gates is easily transformed into a health-related meme and figure because he's so well known," said Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor at Syracuse University who teaches digital ethics. "He's able to function as kind of an abstract boogeyman...." Mark Suzman, chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Gates's main philanthropic vehicle, said it was "distressing that there are people spreading misinformation when we should all be looking for ways to collaborate and save lives...." The first mention of a baseless conspiracy connecting him to the outbreak was on Jan. 21, according to the Times analysis. That was when a YouTube personality linked to QAnon suggested on Twitter that Mr. Gates had foreknowledge of the pandemic. The tweet was based on a coronavirus-related patent from the Pirbright Institute, a British group that received funding from the Gates Foundation. The patent was not for Covid-19; it was connected to a potential vaccine for a different coronavirus that affects poultry. But two days later, the conspiracy website Infowars inaccurately said the patent was for "the deadly virus." The idea spread. From February to April, conspiracy theories involving Mr. Gates and the virus were mentioned 1.2 million times on social media and television broadcasts, according to Zignal Labs. That was 33 percent more often, it said, than the next-largest conspiracy theory: that 5G radio waves cause people to succumb to Covid-19... By April, false Gates conspiracy theories peaked at 18,000 mentions a day, Zignal Labs said.

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Australia Will Force Google and Facebook to Pay for News Content

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 19:39
"Social media giants Facebook and Google will be forced to pay Australian media companies for sharing their content or face sanctions under a landmark decision..." reports the New Zealand Herald: The move comes as the media industry reels from tumbling advertising revenue, already in decline before the Covid 19 coronavirus outbreak collapsed the market. Australia will become the first government to impose a legal regime including financial penalties for digital platforms that profit from content produced by the news media. The federal Government has instructed competition watchdog, the ACCC, to develop a mandatory code of conduct for the digital giants to adhere to. Writing in the Australian newspaper this morning, treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it was "only fair" that the search engines and social media giants pay for the original news content that they use to drive traffic to their sites.

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Microsoft Launching 'Plasmabot' To Screen Recovered COVID-19 Patients For Researchers

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 18:34
CNBC reports: Microsoft is working with a consortium of pharmaceutical companies to recruit people who have recovered from Covid-19 to donate their plasma, which could be used in treatments for the disease. To help get the word out, the company is launching a chatbot, which it refers to as its "plasmabot," to lead people through a series of questions to determine if they're a candidate to donate plasma. The plasmabot, which goes live this weekend, will also provide information about the procedure and direct them to a nearby site where they can safely make the donation... In a blog post, Microsoft says there are two possible approaches with collected plasma: Make transfusions directly available to those who are battling the virus, or incorporate the antibodies to help develop a medicine. Microsoft's head of research Peter Lee said the company is supporting the efforts of a plasma alliance formed by companies like Octapharma, Takeda, CSL Behring and others. That project kicked off in late March, and counts the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among its advisors. After conducting its own research into the approach, Lee said he believes it has the "potential to save lives." So the company is setting aside computing resources and other infrastructure, as well as engineering talent. It is also promoting the plasmabot through a website, and it's search, web and social channels. Microsoft is getting behind the effort now because plasma of recovered patients is only useful for a limited time. "There's a window from onset of symptoms that lasts from 21 to about 56 days," said Lee. Meanwhile, a Florida newspaper reports that the Mayo Clinic is also coordinating its own study with a network of hospitals across America to "gauge the effectiveness" of plasma treatments.

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Facebook Will Warn Users Who 'Liked' Coronavirus Hoaxes

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 17:34
The Associated Press reports that soon Facebook will start warning users who "shared or interacted with dangerous coronavirus misinformation": The new notice will be sent to users who have clicked on, reacted to, or commented on posts featuring harmful or false claims about COVID-19 after they have been removed by moderators. The alert, which will start appearing on Facebook in the coming weeks, will direct users to a site where the World Health Organization lists and debunks virus myths and rumors... Facebook disclosed Thursday that it put more than 40 million warning labels in March over videos, posts or articles about the coronavirus that fact-checking organizations have determined are false or misleading... Facebook says those warning labels have stopped 95% of users from clicking on the false information. "It's a big indicator that people are trusting the fact checkers," said Baybars Orsek, the director of the International Fact-Checking Network. "The label has an impact on people's information consumption." Google and Twitter have also joined Facebook in altering algorithms to stop the spread of online misinformation, according to the article, but "Challenges remain. Tech platforms have sent home human moderators who police the platforms, forcing them to rely on automated systems to take down harmful content. "They are also up against people's mistrust of authoritative sources for information, such as the WHO."

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Will Companies Cut Open Source Investment Because of COVID-19?

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 16:34
The editor of TFIR posed an interesting question to Rob Hirschfeld, the Founder/CEO of RackN (which automates and integrates bare-metal infrastructure). Will the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic affect the sustainability of open source software? Hirschfeld responded: "The idea that big companies are maintaining open-source projects for the community good is going to get tested, as companies look for places where they can conserve revenue. I think that's a really critical thing." "The same is going to be true with open-source startups that are hoping to monetize support or consulting but have no real gate across the front of their infrastructure... Companies might decide they can use the open-source project and not pay the sustaining engineers that are working in that project. "These are really serious concerns about the whole open-source model, which relies on goodwill and free money."

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O'Reilly Makes 'Prototype to Product' eBook Free to Help COVID-19 Innovators

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 15:34
Alan Cohen is a software and systems engineer/manager, and a lifelong technophile who's been engaged in developing medical devices and other high-reliability products. So right now he's working with the new Massachusetts-based "Mass General Brigham Center for COVID Innovation" to refine an emergency ventilator prototype — and then mass-produce thousands of them. "Most of what's needed is the expertise to turn prototypes into products," Alan says — and fortunately, he'd already written a book about that for O'Reilly Media. "He's asked that it be freely shared with others to help solve problems in this time of crisis," reads a new announcement at OReilly.com. Alan is also occamboy (Slashdot reader #583,175), and shares his thoughts with Slashdot readers. He starts by saying that he's "psyched" that O'Reilly's now agreed to offer free downloads of Prototype to Product, "to help teams developing products in response to COVID-19." It's a high-level cross-functional engineering look at how... well, how prototypes are developed into manufacturable products. Covers electronics, software, mechanicals, manufacturing, project management, regulatory, and so forth. Currently at 4.8 stars on Amazon, and only two of the reviews were by friends of mine :). Alan also offers this special hint for Slashdot's quick-learning readers. "Figure 1-1 is all you really need to know, the rest is details."

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Twitter Can't Reveal Number of US Surveillance Requests, Judge Rules

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 14:34
An anonymous reader quotes CNET: Six years ago, Twitter sued the U.S. government in an attempt to detail surveillance requests the company had received, but a federal judge on Friday ruled in favor of the government's case that detailing the requests would jeopardize the country's safety. If Twitter revealed the number of surveillance requests it received each calendar quarter, it "would be likely to lead to grave or imminent harm to the national security," U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers concluded after reviewing classified information from the government... "We think the government's restriction on our speech not only unfairly impacts our users' privacy, but also violates our First Amendment right to free expression and open discussion of government affairs," Twitter argued at the time. Six years later, Twitter says transparency is still important to show how it interacts with governments... "We believe it is vital that the public see the demands we receive, and how we work to strike a balance between respecting local law, supporting people's ability to Tweet, and protecting people from harm."

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Quantum Computing Milestone: Researchers Compute With 'Hot' Silicon Qubits

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 13:34
"Two research groups say they've independently built quantum devices that can operate at temperatures above 1 Kelvin — 15 times hotter than rival technologies can withstand," reports IEEE Spectrum. (In an article shared by Slashdot reader Wave723.) "The ability to work at higher temperatures is key to scaling up to the many qubits thought to be required for future commercial-grade quantum computers..." HongWen Jiang, a physicist at UCLA and a peer reviewer for both papers, described the research as "a technological breakthrough for semiconductor based quantum computing." In today's quantum computers, qubits must be kept inside large dilution refrigerators at temperatures hovering just above absolute zero. Electronics required to manipulate and read the qubits produce too much heat and so remain outside of the fridge, which adds complexity (and many wires) to the system... "To me, these works do represent, in rapid succession, pretty big milestones in silicon spin qubits," says John Gamble, a peer reviewer for one of the papers and a senior quantum engineer at Microsoft. "It's compelling work...." Moving forward, Gamble is interested to see if the research groups can scale their approach to include more qubits. He's encouraged by their efforts so far, saying, "The fact that we're seeing these types of advances means the field is progressing really well and that people are thinking of the right problems." Besides Microsoft, Google and IBM have also "invested heavily in superconducting qubits," the article points out. And there's also a hopeful comment from Lee Bassett, a physicist focused on quantum systems at the University of Pennsylvania. "Each time these silicon devices pass a milestone — and this is an important milestone — it's closer and closer to the inflection point. "This infrastructure of integrated, silicon-based electronics could take over, and this technology could just explode."

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Are We on the Cusp of a Metaverse, the Next Version of the Internet?

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 11:34
The Washington Post describes it as "the next internet." Wikipedia defines it as "a collective virtual shared space...including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the Internet." But it was Neal Stephenson who named it "the metaverse" in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. Are we closer to seeing it happen? The Washington Post reports: In the past month, office culture has coalesced around video chat platforms like Zoom, while personal cultural milestones like weddings and graduations are being conducted in Nintendo's Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The Metaverse not only seems realistic — it would probably be pretty useful right about now. The Metaverse reality is still years, possibly decades, away. But Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has been publicly pushing for its creation, and he isn't alone in his desire to push for the Metaverse, where the online world echoes and fulfills real-world needs and activities. Constructing the virtual Internet space is Silicon Valley's macro goal, many of whom are obsessed with Neal Stephenson's 1992 book, "Snow Crash," which defined the term. In recent years, Facebook, Google and Samsung have all made heavy investments in cloud computing and virtual reality companies in anticipation of a Metaverse... But it's Epic Games, with Fortnite, that has the most viable path forward in terms of creating the Metaverse, according to an essay by venture capitalist and former Amazon executive Matthew Ball... [The article also notes other "traits" of the metaverse in Minecraft and Roblox.] The most widely agreed core attributes of a Metaverse include always being live and persistent — with both planned and spontaneous events always occurring — while at the same time providing an experience that spans and operates across platforms and the real world. A Metaverse must also have no real cap on audience, and have its own fully functioning economy... Fortnite hasn't reached Metaverse status yet. But Fortnite as a social network and impossible-to-ignore cultural phenomenon, Ball says, provides Epic Games a key advantage for leading in the Metaverse race. Fortnite draws a massive, willing and excited audience online to engage with chaotically clashing intellectual properties... "This organic evolution can't be overemphasized," Ball writes in his essay. "If you 'declared' your intent to start a Metaverse, these parties would never embrace interoperability or entrust their IP. But Fortnite has become so popular and so unique that most counterparties have no choice but to participate... Fortnite is too valuable a platform...." The current swarm to an online-only social and capitalist economy has only highlighted the current Internet's failings, and what the Metaverse needs to do, Ball said. Big sites like Facebook, Google and Amazon continue to dominate online activity, as do larger streaming services like YouTube and Netflix. But each location requires its own membership and has separate ecosystems. "Right now, the digital world basically operates as though every restaurant and bar you go to requires a different ID card, has a different currency, requires their own dress codes and has their own units [of service and measurement]," Ball said. "It is clear that this really advantages the biggest services. People are just sticking to the big games, really. However there's a clear argument that reducing network lock-in can really raise all boats here." Sweeney said as much in his DICE Summit keynote speech February. If the game industry wants to reshape the Internet and move away from Silicon Valley's walled gardens, Sweeney stressed that publishers need to rethink economies in the same way email was standardized... "We need to give up our attempts to each create our own private walled gardens and private monopoly and agree to work together and recognize we're all far better off if we connect our systems and grow our social graphs together. Neal Stephenson answered questions from Slashdot readers back in 2004.

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Storage Vendors Are Quietly Slipping SMR Disks Into Consumer Hard Drives

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 07:34
"Storage vendors, including but reportedly not limited to Western Digital, have quietly begun shipping SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) disks in place of earlier CMR (Conventional Magnetic Recording) disks..." writes Ars Technica. "In addition to higher capacities, SMR is associated with much lower random I/O performance than CMR disks offer." Long-time Slashdot reader castrox shares their detailed report: Shingled Magnetic Recording is a technology that allows vendors to eke out higher storage densities, netting more TB capacity on the same number of platters — or fewer platters, for the same amount of TB. Until recently, the technology has only been seen in very large disks, which were typically clearly marked as "archival"... Storage vendors appear to be getting much bolder about deploying the new technology into ever-smaller formats, presumably to save a bit on manufacturing costs... [S]everal users have reported that these disks cannot be successfully used in their NAS systems — despite the fact that the name of the actual product is WD Red NAS Hard Drive. Citing a statement from Western Digital, the article concludes that "The writing on the wall here seems clear. Yes, Western Digital slid SMR drives into traditional, non-enterprise channels — and no, the company doesn't feel bad about it, and you shouldn't expect it to stop... "Western Digital doesn't appear to be the only hard drive manufacturer doing this," they write, noting that the storage-news web site Blocksandfiles.com "has confirmed quiet, undocumented use of SMR in small retail drives from Seagate and Toshiba as well."

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As Raspberry Pi Sales Skyrocket, Eben Upton Applauds Efforts of Open Hardware Community

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 04:34
"Sales of Raspberry Pi's single-board computers hit 640,000 in March, the second-biggest month for sales since they started selling," reports TechRepublic, "as consumers flocked to inexpensive ways to work and learn from home." But that's not all, Eben Upton tells them: With the pandemic having highlighted shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE), 3D-printing manufacturers and hobbyists have been building face shields printed on plastic acetate that can be quickly assembled and delivered to hospitals, for free. "A lot of that is Pi-driven," Upton explained, noting that OctoPrint, which is the most popular platform for managing 3D printers, runs on Raspberry Pi... "[M]aking face shields seems to be a community effort. You have people with a home printer, printing these things once a week and then going to a post office and sending them," he said. "Then you'll have some people sat in a hack space receiving the parcels, cutting the acetate and the elastic, assembling them into face shields then sending them to the hospital. It's amazing." Upton suggested this effort could eventually be ramped up to a "massively distributed scale", with the benefit of open source being that, once you have a good design that works, it can be rapidly iterated. In the long term, this could even include the ventilators themselves, he said. "One thing we're seeing with this is people finding a niche within which open hardware really works," he said.

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After 8 Years of Remote-Access Trojans Attacks, Can We Still Say Linux is Secure?

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-04-19 01:34
Remember when BlackBerry reported Advanced Persistent Threat groups have been infiltrating critical Linux servers for at least eight years? What's the lesson to be learned? LinuxSecurity Founder Dave Wreski argues "Although it may be easy to blame the rise in attacks targeting Linux in recent years on security vulnerabilities in the operating system as a whole, this is simply not the truth. The majority of exploits on Linux systems can be attributed to misconfigured servers and poor administration." Writing for Linux Security, Slashdot reader b-dayyy gathered some additional responses: Some experts argue that it is the popularity of Linux that makes it a target. Joe McManus, Director of Security at Canonical, explains: "Linux and, particularly Ubuntu, are incredibly secure systems but, that being said, it is their popularity that makes them a target." Ian Thornton-Trump, a threat intelligence expert and the CISO at Cyjax, adds: "From an economic and mission perspective, it makes sense for a threat actor to invest in open-source skills for flexibility and the ability to target the systems where the good stuff is happening." Despite the increasing number of threats targeting Linux systems, there is still a sound argument for the inherent security of Linux, which can be attributed to the core fundamentals of Open Source. Due to the transparency of open-source code and the constant scrutiny that this code undergoes by a vibrant global community, vulnerabilities are identified and remedied quicker than flaws that exist in the opaque source code of proprietary software and operating systems. Threat actors recognize this, and are still directing the majority of their attacks at proprietary operating systems. These attacks do; however, serve as a much-needed wakeup call for the security community that more needs to be done to protect Linux servers. BlackBerry's report reveals that security solutions and defensive coverage available within Linux environments is "immature at best". Endpoint protection, detection and response products are inadequately utilized by too many Linux users, and endpoint solutions available for Linux systems are often insufficient in combating advanced exploits. Eric Cornelius, Chief Product Officer at BlackBerry, evaluates: "Security products and services that support Linux, offerings that might detect and give us insight into a threat like this, are relatively lacking compared to other operating systems, and security research about APT use of Linux malware is also relatively sparse."

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ICANN Delays<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.Org Sale After Scathing Letter from California's Attorney General

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-04-18 23:34
Ars Technica reports: ICANN, the nonprofit that oversees the Internet's domain name system, has given itself another two weeks to decide whether to allow control of the .org domain to be sold to private equity firm Ethos Capital. The decision comes after ICANN received a blizzard of letters from people opposed to the transaction, including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Becerra's letter was significant because ICANN is incorporated in California. That means it's Becerra's job to make sure that ICANN is living up to the commitments in its articles of incorporation, which promise that ICANN will operate "for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole." Becerra questioned whether ICANN was really doing that. "There is mounting concern that ICANN is no longer responsive to the needs of its stakeholders," he wrote... Ethos Capital's plan is to buy the Public Interest Registry (PIR) from its current parent organization, the nonprofit Internet Society. To help finance the sale, Ethos will saddle PIR with $300 million in debt — a common tactic in the world of leveraged buyouts. Becerra warns that this tactic could endanger the financial viability of the PIR — especially in light of the economic uncertainty created by the coronavirus. "If the sale goes through and PIR's business model fails to meet expectations, it may have to make significant cuts in operations," Becerra warns. "Such cuts would undoubtedly affect the stability of the .org registry." Becerra also blasts the Internet Society for considering the sale in the first place. "ISOC purports to support the Internet, yet its actions, from the secretive nature of the transaction, to actively seeking to transfer the .org registry to an unknown entity, are contrary to its mission and potentially disruptive to the same system it claims to champion and support," he writes. Becerra ends his letter with a warning: "This office will continue to evaluate this matter, and will take whatever action necessary to protect Californians and the nonprofit community." ICANN's first CEO Michael Roberts, and original board chair Esther Dyson also harshly criticized the proposed sale this week, calling it "totally inappropriate..." "ICANN has not meaningfully acted to address the likely proposed service cuts, increase in prices or trafficking of data of non-profits to obtain additional revenue."

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Bill Gates, Lancet, UN, and Many Others Lambast America's Withholding of Funds from the WHO

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-04-18 22:44
This week U.S. president Donald Trump suspended America's $900 million annual contribution to the World Health Organization. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, called Trump's move a "crime against humanity...." The Hill reports: "Every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity," he added... The American Medical Association (AMA) late Tuesday called Trump's decision a "dangerous step in the wrong direction" and urged him to reconsider. "Fighting a global pandemic requires international cooperation and reliance on science and data. Cutting funding to the WHO — rather than focusing on solutions — is a dangerous move at a precarious moment for the world," the AMA said in a statement. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, meanwhile, said Wednesday that there was "no reason justifying" Trump's move... And Bill Gates said in a tweet that halting funding to the WHO amid a world health crisis "is as dangerous as it sounds." "Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them," the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist added. "The world needs @WHO now more than ever." Agreeing with Bill Gates was 95-year-old former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. Newsweek quotes Carter's newly-released statement calling the WHO "the only international organization capable of leading the effort to control this virus." The head of the United Nations also called the WHO "absolutely critical to the world's efforts to win the war against COVID-19." While criticizing the WHO, this week an article in the Atlantic called president Trump's moves "a transparent effort to distract from his administration's failure to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic." The Democrats speaker of the House added that Trump's decision "is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged." But the science magazine Nature still published an editorial harshly criticizing Trump's attempt to defund the WHO. "[E]ven talk of doing so in the middle of a global health and economic crisis cannot be condemned strongly enough." They argue that withholding America's funds "will place more lives at risk and ensure that the world takes longer to emerge from this crisis... It is right that researchers, funders and governments have been protesting against Trump's decision, and they must continue to do so in the strongest terms." And Newsweek also published the comments of the WHO's Director-General, who had this message for its critics. "[O]ur focus, my focus, is on stopping this virus and saving lives... This is a time for all of us to be united in our common struggle against a common threat, a dangerous enemy. "When we're divided, the virus exploits the cracks between us."

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Silicon Valley Legends Launch 'Beyond Identity' To Eliminate All Passwords

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-04-18 21:34
SecurityWeek editor wiredmikey shares new that Jim Clark and Tom Jermoluk (past founders of Netscape, Silicon Graphics and @Home Network) "have launched a phone-resident personal certificate-based authentication and authorization solution that eliminates all passwords." Security Week reports: The technology used is not new, being based on X.509 certificates and SSL (invented by Netscape some 25 years ago and still the bedrock of secure internet communications). It is the opportunity provided by the modern smartphone with biometric user access, enough memory and power, and a secure enclave to store the private keys of a self-certificate that never leaves the device that is new. The biometric access ties the phone to its user, and the Beyond Identity certificate authenticates the device/user to the service provider, whether that's a bank or a corporate network... "When this technology was created at Netscape during the beginning of the World Wide Web, it was conceived as a mechanism for websites to securely communicate, but the tools didn't yet exist to extend the chain all the way to the end user," commented Jermoluk. "Beyond Identity includes the user in the same chain of certificates bound together with the secure encrypted transport (TLS) used by millions of websites in secure communications today...." With no passwords, the primary cause of data breaches (either to steal passwords or by using stolen passwords) is gone. It removes all friction from the access process, takes the password reset load off the help desk, and can form the basis of a zero-trust model where identity is the perimeter. Though they're first focusing on the corporate market, their solution should be available to consumers by the end of 2020, the article reports, which speculates that the possibility of pre-also installing the solution on devices "is not out of the question."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

Air Force Official Sees Use of Flying Cars By 2023

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-04-18 20:34
"Now is the perfect time to make Jetson's cars real," says the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics. Breaking Defense reports: 'Flying cars' using electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) technology could be in full-up production for Air Force use in moving cargo and people within three years, says Air Force acquisition head Will Roper. Such a capability, Roper enthused, would give the U.S. military the ability to undertake missions "in three dimensions that we normally do in two," giving the services "much greater agility." This is why the Air Force program for investing in commercial firms now pursuing eVTOL vehicles is called "Agility Prime," he noted. The Air Force will take a first look at vendor offerings in a virtual pitch event at the end of the month, with a focus on small eVTOL vehicles that could be used for missions involving transport of only a few people... Roper added that he expects that granting commercial producers Air Force safety certifications and allowing them to rack up flying hours under Agility Prime "will really help accelerate domestic use of these vehicles and [allow some companies to] get FAA certification sooner that it would have come if we had not interjected ourselves into the market...." Agility Prime is designed as a "challenge" where eVTOL vehicle makers compete in a series of demonstration that ultimately could result in a contract for full-scale production. Long-time Slashdot reader sandbagger explains that they're looking for "a 100+ MPH vehicle that can go for at least 100 miles, with the ability to carry up to eight people." "If Slashdotters have something in their basements upon which they have been working, get your flying machines ready because prototypes must be able to take flight by December 17th."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

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