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Australia

Australian Gov't Tries To Force Telcos To Store User Metadata For 2 Years 51

Posted by timothy
from the authority-problem dept.
AlbanX writes The Australian Government has introduced a bill that would require telecommunications carriers and service providers to retain the non-content data of Australian citizens for two years so it can be accessed — without a warrant- by local law enforcement agencies. Despite tabling the draft legislation into parliament, the bill doesn't actually specify the types of data the Government wants retained. The proposal has received a huge amount of criticism from the telco industry, other members of parliament and privacy groups. (The Sydney Morning Herald has some audio of discussion about the law.)
Space

Largest Sunspot In a Quarter Century Spews Flares 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-thing-mother-earth-knows-how-to-duck-and-weave dept.
schwit1 writes: The largest sunspot seen in about a quarter century has produced another powerful X-class flare today, the sixth in less than a week. "This was the sixth X-class solar flare from NOAA 2192, a record for the number of X-class flares generated by a single group so far this solar cycle. It was also the fourth X-class flare since last Friday, continuing a period of intense flaring activity. This sunspot group has grown again a bit, and maintains its magnetic complexity. A degradation of the HF radio-communication was observed over South-America, the Caribbean, and West-Africa." The last sentence is referring to some radio communications blackouts that have occurred in these areas because of the flares.
Privacy

US Post Office Increases Secret Tracking of Mail 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-all-those-circulars dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Ron Nixon reports in the NY Times that the United States Postal Service says it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations, in many cases without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization. In addition to raising privacy concerns, the audit questioned the efficiency and accuracy of the Postal Service in handling the requests. The surveillance program, officially called mail covers, is more than a century old, but is still considered a powerful investigative tool. The Postal Service said that from 2001 through 2012, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies made more than 100,000 requests to monitor the mail of Americans. That would amount to an average of some 8,000 requests a year — far fewer than the nearly 50,000 requests in 2013 that the Postal Service reported in the audit (PDF).

In Arizona in 2011, Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor, discovered that her mail was being monitored by the county's sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Wilcox had been a frequent critic of Arpaio, objecting to what she considered the targeting of Hispanics in his immigration sweeps. Wilcox sued the county, was awarded nearly $1 million in a settlement in 2011 and received the money this June when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. Andrew Thomas, the former county attorney, was disbarred for his role in investigations into the business dealings of Ms. Wilcox and other officials and for other unprofessional conduct. "I don't blame the Postal Service," says Wilcox, "but you shouldn't be able to just use these mail covers to go on a fishing expedition. There needs to be more control."
Microsoft

Microsoft Is Bringing WebRTC To Explorer, Eyes Plugin-Free Skype Calls 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the call-window dept.
An anonymous reader writes Microsoft today announced it is backing the Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) technology and will be supporting the ORTC API in Internet Explorer. Put another way, the company is finally throwing its weight behind the broader industry trend of bringing voice and video calling to the browser without the need for plugins. Both Google and Mozilla are way ahead of Microsoft in this area, both in terms of adding WebRTC features to their respective browsers and in terms of building plugin-free calling services that rely on the technology. In short, Skype is under threat, and Microsoft has finally decided to opt for an "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" strategy.
Books

Book Review: Measuring and Managing Information Risk: a FAIR Approach 46

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes It's hard to go a day without some sort of data about information security and risk. Research from firms like Gartner are accepted without question; even though they can get their results from untrusted and unvetted sources. The current panic around Ebola shows how people are ill-informed about risk. While stressing over Ebola, the media is oblivious to true public health threats like obesity, heart disease, drunk driving, diabetes, and the like. When it comes to information security, it's not that much better. With myriad statistics, surveys, data breach reports, and global analyses of the costs of data breaches, there is an overabundance of data, and an under abundance of meaningful data. In Measuring and Managing Information Risk: A FAIR Approach, authors Jack Freund and Jack Jones have written a magnificent book that will change the way (for the better) you think about and deal with IT risk. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Communications

"Police Detector" Monitors Emergency Radio Transmissions 211

Posted by samzenpus
from the warning-warning-warning dept.
schwit1 writes A Dutch company has introduced a detection system that can alert you if a police officer or other emergency services official is using a two-way radio nearby. Blu Eye monitors frequencies used by the encrypted TETRA encrypted communications networks used by government agencies in Europe. It doesn't allow the user to listen in to transmissions, but can detect a radio in operation up to one kilometer away. Even if a message isn't being sent, these radios send pulses out to the network every four seconds and Blu Eye can also pick these up, according to The Sunday Times. A dashboard-mounted monitor uses lights and sounds to alert the driver to the proximity of the source, similar to a radar detector interface.
China

First Commercial Mission To the Moon Launched From China 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the there-and-back dept.
mbone writes with news about the first privately-funded spacecraft to travel the Moon. Cold War competition between superpowers dominated the first decades of space travel and exploration. Individual governments took the lead, bankrolling most of the process in the name of competition and nationalism. Ultimately international cooperation and collaboration took root, and the landscape is already very different. The present and future of space exploration is more collaborative, more international, and involves both space agencies and private companies. One such project is the combination Chang’e 5-T1 and Manfred Memorial Moon Mission (4M), which launched together last Thursday. Both projects are testbeds for ideas: Chang’e 5-T1 is a prototype for a robotic probe intended to return samples from the Moon to Earth, while 4M is a simple communications experiment encouraging amateur participation. But the intriguing bit is that 4M is a project of the private Luxembourg-based company LuxSpace, while Chang’e 5-T1 is a Chinese project, and the whole endeavor was launched on a Chinese rocket.
Education

Solving the Mystery of Declining Female CS Enrollment 601

Posted by samzenpus
from the CS-needs-women dept.
theodp writes After an NPR podcast fingered the marketing of computers to boys as the culprit behind the declining percentages of women in undergraduate CS curricula since 1984 (a theory seconded by Smithsonian mag), some are concluding that NPR got the wrong guy. Calling 'When Women Stopped Coding' quite engaging, but long on Political Correctness and short on real evidence, UC Davis CS Prof Norm Matloff concedes a sexist element, but largely ascribes the gender lopsidedness to economics. "That women are more practical than men, and that the well-publicized drastic swings in the CS labor market are offputting to women more than men," writes Matloff, and "was confirmed by a 2008 survey in the Communications of the ACM" (related charts of U.S. unemployment rates and Federal R&D spending in the '80s). Looking at the raw numbers of female CS grads instead of percentages, suggests there wasn't a sudden and unexpected disappearance of a generation of women coders, but rather a dilution in their percentages as women's growth in undergrad CS ranks was far outpaced by men, including a boom around the time of the dot-com boom/bust.
Wireless Networking

FCC Postpones Spectrum Auction Until 2016 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-extra-spectrum-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: 2014 was supposed to be the year broadcasters would be allowed to sell off their unused spectrum to mobile carriers. That got pushed back to 2015 in December, and now the Federal Communications Commission has bumped it to 2016 in the face of a lawsuit from the National Association of Broadcasters. The FCC says the legal briefs aren't even due until January 2015, and it will take them until the middle of the year to review the documents and respond in court. The delay is just fine with the NAB, but probably bad news for anyone hoping that spectrum would help to improve mobile communications in the U.S. any time soon.
AT&T

AT&T Locks Apple SIM Cards On New iPads 112

Posted by timothy
from the well-that's-not-cricket dept.
As reported by MacRumors, the unlocked, carrier-switchable SIM cards built into the newest iPads aren't necessarily so -- at least if you buy them from an AT&T store. Though the card comes from Apple with the ability to support (and be switched among with software, if a change is necessary) all major carriers, "AT&T is not supporting this interchangeability and is locking the SIM included with cellular models of the iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 after it is used with an AT&T plan. ... AT&T appears to be the only participating carrier that is locking the Apple SIM to its network. T-Mobile's John Legere has indicated that T-Mobile's process does not lock a customer in to T-Mobile, which appears to be confirmed by Apple's support document, and Sprint's process also seems to leave the Apple SIM unlocked and able to be used with other carrier plans. Verizon, the fourth major carrier in the United States, did not opt to allow the Apple SIM to work with its network." The iPad itself can still be activated and used on other networks, but only after the installation of a new SIM.
The Internet

Secretive Funding Fuels Ongoing Net Neutrality Astroturfing Controversy 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
alphadogg writes: The contentious debate about net neutrality in the U.S. has sparked controversy over a lack of funding transparency for advocacy groups and think tanks, which critics say subverts the political process. News stories from a handful of publications in recent months have accused some think tanks and advocacy groups of "astroturfing" — quietly shilling for large broadband carriers. In a handful of cases, those criticisms appear to have some merit, although the term is so overused by people looking to discredit political opponents that it has nearly lost its original meaning. An IDG News Service investigation found that major groups opposing U.S. Federal Communications Commission reclassification and regulation of broadband as a public utility tend to be less transparent about their funding than the other side. Still, some big-name advocates of strong net neutrality rules also have limited transparency mechanisms in place.
Facebook

We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello 269

Posted by timothy
from the pick-your-battles dept.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: Facebook threatened to banish drag queen pseudonyms, and (some) users revolted by flocking to Ello, a social network which promised not to enforce real names and also to remain ad-free. Critics said that the idealistic model would buckle under pressure from venture capitalists. But both gave scant mention to the fact that a distributed social networking protocol, backed by a player large enough to get people using it, would achieve all of the goals that Ello aspired to achieve, and more. Read on for the rest.
Google

Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-be-in-beta-for-the-next-eight-years dept.
Z80xxc! writes: The Gmail team announced "Inbox" this morning, a new way to manage email. Inbox is email, but organized differently. Messages are grouped into "bundles" of similar types. "Highlights" pull out and display key information from messages, and messages can be "snoozed" to come back later as a reminder. Inbox is invite-only right now, and you can email inbox@google.com to request an invite.
The Internet

Internet Broadband Through High-altitude Drones 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the internet-of-wings dept.
mwagner writes: Skynet is coming. But not like in the movie: The future of communications is high-altitude solar-powered drones, flying 13 miles above the ground, running microwave wireless equipment, delivering broadband to the whole planet. The articles predicts this technology will replace satellites, fiber, and copper, and fundamentally change the broadband industry. The author predicts a timescale of roughly 20 years — the same amount of time between Arthur C. Clarke predicting geosynchronous satellites and their reality as a commercial business. "Several important technology milestones need to be reached along the way. The drones that will make up Skynet have a lot more in common with satellites than the flippy-flappy helicopter drone thingies that the popular press is fixated on right now. They're really effing BIG, for one thing. And, like satellites, they go up, and stay up, pretty much indefinitely. For that to happen, we need two things: lighter, higher-capacity wireless gear; and reliable, hyper-efficient solar tech."
Communications

The Future of Stamps 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the post-postal-world dept.
New submitter Kkloe writes: Wired is running a profile of a gadget called Signet, which is trying to bring postage stamps into the age of high technology. Quoting: "At its core, it is a digital stamp and an app. If you want to send a parcel, you'd simply stamp it with a device that uses a laser to etch it with your name and a unique identifying pattern. After that, the USPS would pick up your package; from there, the app would prompt you to provide the name of the person you're trying to reach." I'm curious whether such a finely-detailed etching can even survive a journey. How far can you expect it to travel before all the handling and sorting make the mark unreadable to the sorting machines in the delivery office? Then you'd have to worry the post office would mark it as a fraudulent stamp (as someone has to pay for the shipping in some way) and either return it or throw it away.
Encryption

Security Company Tries To Hide Flaws By Threatening Infringement Suit 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-that-always-ends-well dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An RFID-based access control system called IClass is used across the globe to provide physical access controls. This system relies on cryptography to secure communications between a tag and a reader. Since 2010, several academic papers have been released which expose the cryptographic insecurity of the IClass system. Based on these papers, Martin Holst Swende implemented the IClass ciphers in a software library, which he released under the GNU General Public License.

The library is useful to experiment with and determine the security level of an access control system (that you own or have explicit consent to study). However, last Friday, Swende received an email from INSIDE Secure, which notified him of (potential) intellectual property infringement, warning him off distributing the library under threat of "infringement action." Interestingly, it seems this is not the first time HID Global has exerted legal pressure to suppress information.
Encryption

'Endrun' Networks: Help In Danger Zones 28

Posted by timothy
from the pinging-mr-bourne-mr-jason-bourne dept.
kierny writes Drawing on networking protocols designed to support NASA's interplanetary missions, two information security researchers have created a networking system that's designed to transmit information securely and reliably in even the worst conditions. Dubbed Endrun, and debuted at Black Hat Europe, its creators hope the delay-tolerant and disruption-tolerant system — which runs on Raspberry Pi — could be deployed everywhere from Ebola hot zones in Liberia, to war zones in Syria, to demonstrations in Ferguson.
Networking

Gigabit Cellular Networks Could Happen, With 24GHz Spectrum 52

Posted by timothy
from the who-needs-a-cord dept.
An anonymous reader writes A Notice of Inquiry was issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday that focuses research on higher frequencies for sending gigabit streams of mobile data. The inquiry specifically states that its purpose is to determine "what frequency bands above 24 GHz would be most suitable for mobile services, and to begin developing a record on mobile service rules and a licensing framework for mobile services in those bands". Cellular networks currently use frequencies between 600 MHz to 3 GHz with the most desirable frequencies under 1 GHz being owned by AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The FCC feels, however, that new technology indicates the potential for utilizing higher frequency ranges not necessarily as a replacement but as the implementation necessary to finally usher in 5G wireless technology. The FCC anticipates the advent of 5G commercial offerings within six years.
Advertising

Snapchat Will Introduce Ads, Attempt To Keep Them Other Than Creepy 131

Posted by timothy
from the trying-to-keep-the-golden-goose-alive dept.
As reported by VentureBeat, dissapearing-message service Snapchat is introducing ads. Considering how most people feel about ads, they're trying to ease them in gently: "Ads can be ignored: Users will not be required to watch them. If you do view an ad, or if you ignore it for 24 hours, it will disappear just like Stories do." Hard to say how much it will mollify the service's users, but the company says "We won’t put advertisements in your personal communication – things like Snaps or Chats. That would be totally rude. We want to see if we can deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted."
Social Networks

Facebook 'Safety Check' Lets Friends Know You're OK After a Major Disaster 130

Posted by timothy
from the mom-please-stop-the-prank-alerts dept.
rtoz (2530056) writes Facebook has launched a new Tool called "Safety Check." The Facebook Safety Check tool will notify your friends so that they know you're OK after a major disaster. In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates. "During a major disaster, Safety Check will help you: Let friends and family know you're safe; Check on others in the affected area; Mark your friends as safe ... When the tool is activated after a natural disaster and if you're in the affected area, you'll receive a Facebook notification asking if you're safe. [Facebook] will determine your location by looking at the city you have listed in your profile, your last location if you've opted in to the Nearby Friends product, and the city where you are using the internet. ... If you're safe, you can select "I'm Safe" and a notification and News Feed story will be generated with your update. Your friends can also mark you as safe." More creepy, or more reassuring?

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)

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