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Math

Researcher Modifies Sieve of Eratosthenes To Work With Less Physical Memory Space (scientificamerican.com) 71

grcumb writes: Peruvian mathematician Harald Helfgott made his mark on the history of mathematics by solving Goldbach's weak conjecture, which states that every odd number greater than 7 can be expressed as the sum of three prime numbers. Now, according to Scientific American, he's found a better solution to the sieve of Eratosthenes: "In order to determine with this sieve all primes between 1 and 100, for example, one has to write down the list of numbers in numerical order and start crossing them out in a certain order: first, the multiples of 2 (except the 2); then, the multiples of 3, except the 3; and so on, starting by the next number that had not been crossed out. The numbers that survive this procedure will be the primes. The method can be formulated as an algorithm." But now, Helfgott has found a method to drastically reduce the amount of RAM required to run the algorithm: "Now, inspired by combined approaches to the analytical 100-year-old technique called the circle method, Helfgott was able to modify the sieve of Eratosthenes to work with less physical memory space. In mathematical terms: instead of needing a space N, now it is enough to have the cube root of N." So what will be the impact of this? Will we see cheaper, lower-power encryption devices? Or maybe quicker cracking times in brute force attacks? Mathematician Jean Carlos Cortissoz Iriarte of Cornell University and Los Andes University offers an analogy: "Let's pretend that you are a computer and that to store data in your memory you use sheets of paper. If to calculate the primes between 1 and 1,000,000, you need 200 reams of paper (10,000 sheets), and with the algorithm proposed by Helfgott you will only need one fifth of a ream (about 100 sheets)," he says.
Security

Why the Silencing of KrebsOnSecurity Opens a Troubling Chapter For the Internet (arstechnica.com) 203

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: For the better part of a day, KrebsOnSecurity, arguably the world's most intrepid source of security news, has been silenced, presumably by a handful of individuals who didn't like a recent series of exposes reporter Brian Krebs wrote. The incident, and the record-breaking data assault that brought it on, open a troubling new chapter in the short history of the Internet. The crippling distributed denial-of-service attacks started shortly after Krebs published stories stemming from the hack of a DDoS-for-hire service known as vDOS. The first article analyzed leaked data that identified some of the previously anonymous people closely tied to vDOS. It documented how they took in more than $600,000 in two years by knocking other sites offline. A few days later, Krebs ran a follow-up piece detailing the arrests of two men who allegedly ran the service. A third post in the series is here. On Thursday morning, exactly two weeks after Krebs published his first post, he reported that a sustained attack was bombarding his site with as much as 620 gigabits per second of junk data. That staggering amount of data is among the biggest ever recorded. Krebs was able to stay online thanks to the generosity of Akamai, a network provider that supplied DDoS mitigation services to him for free. The attack showed no signs of waning as the day wore on. Some indications suggest it may have grown stronger. At 4 pm, Akamai gave Krebs two hours' notice that it would no longer assume the considerable cost of defending KrebsOnSecurity. Krebs opted to shut down the site to prevent collateral damage hitting his service provider and its customers. The assault against KrebsOnSecurity represents a much greater threat for at least two reasons. First, it's twice the size. Second and more significant, unlike the Spamhaus attacks, the staggering volume of bandwidth doesn't rely on misconfigured domain name system servers which, in the big picture, can be remedied with relative ease. The attackers used Internet-of-things devices since they're always-connected and easy to "remotely commandeer by people who turn them into digital cannons that spray the internet with shrapnel." "The biggest threats as far as I'm concerned in terms of censorship come from these ginormous weapons these guys are building," Krebs said. "The idea that tools that used to be exclusively in the hands of nation states are now in the hands of individual actors, it's kind of like the specter of a James Bond movie." While Krebs could retain a DDoS mitigation service, it would cost him between $100,000 and $200,000 per year for the type of protection he needs, which is more than he can afford. What's especially troubling is that this attack can happen to many other websites, not just KrebsOnSecurity.
Medicine

Smoking Permanently Damages Your DNA, Study Finds (nbcnews.com) 175

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: Smoking scars DNA in clear patterns, researchers reported Tuesday. Most of the damage fades over time, they found -- but not all of it. Their study of 16,000 people found that while most of the disease-causing genetic footprints left by smoking fade after five years if people quit, some appear to stay there forever. The marks are made in a process called methylation, which is an alteration of DNA that can inactivate a gene or change how it functions -- often causing cancer and other diseases. The team examined blood samples given by 16,000 people taking part in various studies going back to 1971. In all the studies, people have given blood samples and filled out questionnaires about smoking, diet, lifestyle and their health histories. They found smokers had a pattern of methylation changes affecting more than 7,000 genes, or one-third of known human genes. Many of the genes had known links to heart disease and cancers known to be caused by smoking. Among quitters, most of these changes reverted to the patterns seen in people who never smoked after about five years, the team reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics. But smoking-related changes in 19 genes, including the TIAM2 gene linked to lymphoma, lasted 30 years, the team found.
Communications

Quantum Teleportation Achieved Over 7km of Cable (sciencealert.com) 189

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ScienceAlert: Quantum teleportation just moved out of the lab and into the real world, with two independent teams of scientists successfully sending quantum information across several kilometers of optical fiber networks in Calgary, Canada, and Hefei, China. Quantum teleportation relies on a strange phenomenon called quantum entanglement. Basically, quantum entanglement means that two particles are inextricably linked, so that measuring the state of one immediately affects the state of the other, no matter how far apart the two are -- which led Einstein to call entanglement "spooky action at a distance." In the latest experiments, both published in Nature Photonics (here and here), the teams had slightly different set-ups and results. But what they both had in common is the fact that they teleported their information across existing optical fiber networks -- which is important if we ever want to build useable quantum communication systems. To understand the experiments, Anil Ananthaswamy over at New Scientist nicely breaks it down like this: picture three people involved -- Alice, Bob, and Charlie. Alice and Bob want to share cryptographic keys, and to do that, they need Charlie's help. Alice sends a particle to Charlie, while Bob entangles two particles and sends just one of them to Charlie. Charlie then measures the two particles he's received from each of them, so that they can no longer be differentiated -- and that results in the quantum state of Alice's particle being transferred to Bob's entangled particle. So basically, the quantum state of Alice's particle eventually ends up in Bob's particle, via a way station in the form of Charlie. The Canadian experiment followed this same process, and was able to send quantum information over 6.2 km of Calgary's fiber optic network that's not regularly in use.
Security

Anonymous Hacker Explains His Attack On Boston Children's Hospital (huffingtonpost.com) 294

Okian Warrior writes: Martin Gottesfeld of Anonymous was arrested in connection with the Spring 2014 attacks on a number of healthcare and treatment facilities in the Boston area. The attacks were in response/defense of a patient there named Justina Pelletier. Gottesfeld now explains why he did what he did, in a statement provided to The Huffington Post. Here's an excerpt from his statement: [Why I Knocked Boston Children's Hospital Off The Internet] The answer is simpler than you might think: The defense of an innocent, learning disabled, 15-year-old girl. In the criminal complaint, she's called 'Patient A,' but to me, she has a name, Justina Pelletier. Boston Children's Hospital disagreed with her diagnosis. They said her symptoms were psychological. They made misleading statement on an affidavit, went to court, and had Justina's parents stripped of custody. They stopped her painkillers, leaving her in agony. They stopped her heart medication, leaving her tachycardic. They said she was a danger to herself, and locked her in a psych ward. They said her family was part of the problem, so they limited, monitored, and censored her contact with them..."
Sci-Fi

SciFi TV Series 'Space Patrol Orion' Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary (wikipedia.org) 73

In Germany the phrase "Fallback to Earth!" is about as cult as "Engage warp drive," reports Long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino: One of the oldest science fiction TV serials, the famous German "Raumpatrouille Orion" (Space Patrol Orion) turned 50 today. Heise.de has a scoop on the anniversary in German [or roughly translated into English by Google]. The production of Space Patrol Orion predates Star Trek by roughly a year and was a huge hit in Germany, gaining the status of a "street sweeper" (Strabenfeger), referring to the effect it's airing had on public life.
The special effects are pretty good for 1966 -- you can watch episode one on YouTube. (And feel free to share other related videos in the comments.) "In the series, nations no longer exist and Earth is united," according to Wikipedia, which reports that Commander Cliff McLane and his loyal crew fight an alien race called the Frogs, and "He is notoriously defiant towards his superiors."
Government

NYPD Says Talking About Its IMSI Catchers Would Make Them Vulnerable To Hacking (vice.com) 53

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Typically, cops don't like talking about IMSI catchers, the powerful surveillance technology used to monitor mobile phones en masse. In a recent case, the New York Police Department (NYPD) introduced a novel argument for keeping mum on the subject: Asked about the tools it uses, it argued that revealing the different models of IMSI catchers the force owned would make the devices more vulnerable to hacking. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), an affiliate of the ACLU, has been trying to get access to information about the NYPD's IMSI catchers under the Freedom of Information Law. These devices are also commonly referred to as "stingrays," after a particularly popular model from Harris Corporation. Indeed, the NYCLU wants to know which models of IMSI catchers made by Harris the police department has. "Public disclosure of this information, and the amount of taxpayer funds spent to buy the devices, directly advances the Freedom of Information Law's purpose of informing a robust public debate about government actions," the NYCLU writes in a court filing. The group has requested documents that show how much money has been spent on the technology. After the NYPD withheld the records, the FOI request was escalated to a lawsuit, which is where the NYPD's strange argument comes in (among others). "Public disclosure of the specifications of the CSS [cell site simulator] technologies in NYPD's possession from the Withheld Records would make the software vulnerable to hacking and would jeopardize NYPD's ability to keep the technologies secure," an affidavit from NYPD Inspector Gregory Antonsen, dated August 17, reads. Antonsen then imagines a scenario where a "highly sophisticated hacker" could use their knowledge of the NYPD's Stingrays to lure officers into a trap and ambush them.
Security

Someone Is Learning How To Take Down the Internet, Warns Bruce Schneier (schneier.com) 237

Some of the major companies that provide the basic infrastructure that makes the internet work have seen an increase in DDoS attacks against them, says Bruce Schneier. He adds that these attacks are of much larger scale -- including the duration -- than the ones we have seen previously. These attacks, he adds, are also designed to test what all defense measures a company has got -- and they ensure that the company uses every they have got, leaving them with no choice but to demonstrate their defense capabilities to the attacker. He hasn't specifically shared details about the organizations that are under attack, but what little he has elaborated should give us a chill. From his blog post: [...] This all is consistent with what Verisign is reporting. Verisign is the registrar for many popular top-level Internet domains, like .com and .net. If it goes down, there's a global blackout of all websites and e-mail addresses in the most common top-level domains. Every quarter, Verisign publishes (PDF) a DDoS trends report. While its publication doesn't have the level of detail I heard from the companies I spoke with, the trends are the same: "in Q2 2016, attacks continued to become more frequent, persistent, and complex." There's more. One company told me about a variety of probing attacks in addition to the DDoS attacks: testing the ability to manipulate internet addresses and routes, seeing how long it takes the defenders to respond, and so on. Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services. Who would do this? It doesn't seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do. Profiling core infrastructure is common practice in espionage and intelligence gathering. It's not normal for companies to do that. Furthermore, the size and scale of these probes -- and especially their persistence -- points to state actors. It feels like a nation's military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar. It reminds me of the US's Cold War program of flying high-altitude planes over the Soviet Union to force their air-defense systems to turn on, to map their capabilities.
Books

Slashdot Asks: What Are Your Favorite Technology Books and Novels? 175

It can be a nonfiction book, or a fictional narrative where technology plays a key role. I recently started to read 'The Rise of the Robots' by Martin Ford. It talks about how robots are threatening mass unemployment more than they ever did before. I also found Andrew Blum's 'Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet' quite insightful. I would like to read 'The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers'.

What are some of your favorite tech-centric books? And which book are you currently reading, or recently finished?
Programming

Vandalism Detection Contest Sponsored For Wikidata (wsdm-cup-2017.org) 38

Remember when Bing Maps lost a city because they used bad Wikipedia data? An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Since knowledge bases like Wikidata are poised to be integrated into all kinds of information systems, wrong facts are not just displayed on Wikidata's pages but may propagate directly to all systems using the knowledge base. Hence, detecting and reverting vandalism and other kinds of damaging edits is an even more important task than on Wikipedia. Recently, German scientists published the first machine learning-based approach on vandalism detection in Wikidata, and now Adobe sponsors a competition on vandalism detection, the WSDM Cup Challenge, awarding $2500 for the best-performing solutions that will also be published open source.
"Given a Wikidata revision, compute a vandalism score denoting the likelihood of this revision being vandalism (or similarly damaging)," read the official rules, pushing for a near real-time solution to be submitted before December 22. And the winners will also be invited to the headquarters of Wikimedia Germany to discuss implenting their solutions.
Education

Stephen Wolfram Reveals Ambitious Plan to Teach Computational Thinking (stephenwolfram.com) 76

Can we teach future generations how to solve their problems with computers? Slashdot reader mirandakatz writes: Doctors, lawyers, teachers, farmers -- whatever the profession, it'll soon be full of computational thinking. Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha creator Stephen Wolfram argues on Backchannel that it's essential we start teaching kids to talk to computers today to ensure their success in the future -- and he's got a comprehensive lesson plan.
Arguing that Wikipedia popularized "a more direct style of presenting information," Wolfram writes that computer-assisted education continues the trend, "taking things which could only be talked around, and turning them into things that can be shown through computation directly and explicitly." Wolfram's 11,000-word essay adds that "with all the knowledge and automation that we've built into the Wolfram Language we're finally now to the point where we have the technology to be able to directly teach broad computational thinking, even to kids.." (And without having to start off with loops and conditionals...)
Space

New Research Reveals Hundreds of Undiscovered Black Holes (phys.org) 75

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: New research by the University of Surrey published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society has shone light on a globular cluster of stars that could host several hundred black holes, a phenomenon that until recently was thought impossible. Globular clusters are spherical collections of stars which orbit around a galactic center such as our Milky-way galaxy. Using advanced computer simulations, the team at the University of Surrey were able to see the un-see-able by mapping a globular cluster known as NGC 6101, from which the existence of black holes within the system was deduced. These black holes are a few times larger than the Sun, and form in the gravitational collapse of massive stars at the end of their lives. It was previously thought that these black holes would almost all be expelled from their parent cluster due to the effects of supernova explosion, during the death of a star. It is only as recently as 2013 that astrophysicists found individual black holes in globular clusters via rare phenomena in which a companion star donates material to the black hole. This work, which was supported by the European Research Council (ERC), has shown that in NGC 6101 there could be several hundred black holes, overturning old theories as to how black holes form.
Sci-Fi

Today Marks The 50th Anniversary of 'Star Trek' (ew.com) 204

Dave Knott writes: Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first television broadcast of Star Trek. The first episode of the science fiction series was aired on September 8, 1966. From its humble beginnings, Star Trek has gone on to become one of the best-loved and most successful television concepts of all time, an enduring pop culture touchstone that changed science fiction forever and spawned multiple series and movies that continue to this day. What does Star Trek mean to you? Are you a trekkie/trekker? What are your best memories of the series, and how has it affected your life?
Sci-Fi

Star Trek's LCARS Could Become Your Virtual Assistant (cnet.com) 145

H_Fisher writes: It has arguably inspired many other technological innovations in the fifty years since its premiere, and now another Star Trek-inspired touch could be coming to your device: the voice of Majel Barrett from the Star Trek universe's LCARS computer system. CNET reports: "The voice of LCARS was provided by Majel Barrett, who was married to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Although Barrett sadly passed away in 2008, she took several roles on the show over the years, including nurse Christine Chapel in Star Trek: The Original Series and Betazoid ambassador Lwaxana Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation. According to a tweet by the official Roddenberry account yesterday, this has provided enough phonetic data to perhaps get Barrett's voice appearing in upcoming new 2017 TV series Star Trek: Discovery -- and maybe even a Siri-like virtual assistant."
Japan

Japan To Develop 3D Maps For Self-Driving Cars (nikkei.com) 25

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Nikkei: A joint venture in Japan will begin creating high-definition 3D maps for self-driving cars in September as part of a government effort to have such vehicles on the road by 2020, when the Tokyo Summer Olympics will be held. Tokyo-based Dynamic Map Planning, set up by Mitsubishi Electric, mapmaker Zenrin and nine automakers, will digitally chart the country's key expressways by driving a vehicle loaded with special surveying equipment. The data will be processed using computers designed for the creation of maps, which will be provided to automakers that invest in the startup. As a first step, Dynamic Map Planning will make maps covering 300km of the country's main expressways. The combination of high-resolution 3D maps and sensors will enable the accurate detection of which lane a car is in and the distance to junctions. High-precision surveying technology is required to make the maps, so Mitsubishi Electric developed equipment that will be installed on a canvassing vehicle. GPS will track the location of the car on the map, and sensors designed to detect the inclination of the car will measure the road grades. At the same time, data including the locations of road signs and traffic lights, as well as right- and left-turns and pedestrian crossings, will be collected using lasers. The survey data will be displayed as a collection of dots. Lines on the road, such as lanes, noise barriers and road signage, will be plotted on that image to faithfully re-create road conditions for 3D maps.
Businesses

IFA 2016 Award Winners (digitaltrends.com) 28

For the technology addicts out there, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and International Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) are events to pay close attention to. They are annual trade shows that exhibit consumer electronics from hundreds of exhibitors to thousands of attendees. IFA is coming to an end and the folks over at Digital Trends have put together a list of their "Top Tech picks of IFA 2016 in each major tech category." The "Top Picks" of each category include:

BEST OF SHOW: LENOVO YOGA BOOK
AUDIO: AUDEZE INSINE 10
COMPUTING: LENOVO YOGA 910
COOL TECH: YUNEEC BREEZE
COOL TECH: BOTSCAN
HOME: LG INSTAVIEW SIGNATURE FRIDGE
HOME: NETATMO SMART VALVE
LATIN INNOVATION: SOLIDMATION
MOBILE: ZTE AXON 7 MINI
VIDEO: PHILIPS 901F 4K UHD OLED TV
WEARABLES: SAMSUNG GEAR S3 FRONTIER

Have any Slashdotters been paying close attention to IFA 2016? If so, how do you think this year's event stacks up to past IFA events?
Operating Systems

OpenBSD 6.0 Released (sdtimes.com) 94

LichtSpektren writes: Version 6.0 of the free operating system OpenBSD has just been released. This release features much improved hardware and armv7 support, a new tool called proot for building software ports in an isolated chroot environment, W^X that is now strictly enforced by default, and removal of official support for Linux emulation, usermount, and systrace. The release announcement can be read here. The release is OpenBSD's 40th release on CD-ROM and 41st release via FTP/HTTP.
Cloud

New Cloud Attack Takes Full Control of Virtual Machines With Little Effort (arstechnica.com) 34

C3ntaur writes: The world has seen the most unsettling attack yet resulting from the so-called Rowhammer exploit, which flips individual bits in computer memory. It's a technique that's so surgical and controlled that it allows one machine to effectively steal the cryptographic keys of another machine hosted in the same cloud environment. Until now, Rowhammer has been a somewhat clumsy and unpredictable attack tool because it was hard to control exactly where data-corrupting bit flips happened. While previous research demonstrated that it could be used to elevate user privileges and break security sandboxes, most people studying Rowhammer said there was little immediate danger of it being exploited maliciously to hijack the security of computers that use vulnerable chips. The odds of crucial data being stored in a susceptible memory location made such hacks largely a matter of chance that was stacked against the attacker. In effect, Rowhammer was more a glitch than an exploit. Now, computer scientists have developed a significantly more refined Rowhammer technique they call Flip Feng Shui. It manipulates deduplication operations that many cloud hosts use to save memory resources by sharing identical chunks of data used by two or more virtual machines. Just as traditional Feng Shui aims to create alignment or harmony in a home or office, Flip Feng Shui can massage physical memory in a way that causes crypto keys and other sensitive data to be stored in locations known to be susceptible to Rowhammer. The research paper titled "Flip Feng Shui: Hammering a Needle in the Software Stack" can be read here.
Security

Microsoft Deprecating 'Obsolete' SmartScreen Spam Filters In Outlook and Exchange (winbeta.org) 29

An anonymous reader quotes a report from WinBeta: Microsoft is making changes to SmartScreen, a spam content filter, available in Windows 10. These changes will affect Outlook and Exchange users. In Outlook and Exchange, SmartScreen analyzes each email message and rates the email according to SmartScreen's Spam Confidence Level (SCL). These emails are then sent to Outlook's junk folder. Here's a look at the changes to SmartScreen, according to Microsoft: 1. "On November 1, 2016, Microsoft will stop generating updates for the SmartScreen spam filters in Exchange Server 2016 and earlier (2013, 2010, 2007), Outlook 2016 for Windows and earlier (2013, 2010, 2007) and Outlook 2011 for Mac. The SmartScreen spam filter will be removed from future versions of Exchange Server and Outlook for Windows. (SmartScreen is not available in any other version of Outlook). This announcement does not affect the SmartScreen Filter online protection features built into Windows, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer browsers. While branded similarly, those features are technically distinct. These SmartScreen Filters to help people to stay protected from malicious websites and downloads." After November 1, 2016, Microsoft will no longer release spam definition updates to SmartScreen filters in Outlook and Exchange. Your existing SmartScreen spam filters will remain in place; Microsoft will simply no longer provide updates for them.
Communications

Tiny Particle Blows Hole In European Satellite's Solar Panel (go.com) 225

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: A tiny piece of debris has punched a gaping hole in the solar panel of one of Europe's Earth observation satellites, causing visible damage but not enough to affect its routine operations, the European Space Agency said Wednesday. The unknown particle just a few millimeters big slammed into the back of a solar panel on Copernicus Sentinel-1A on Aug. 23. Using on-board cameras, engineers have determined that the hole is about 40 centimeters (16 inches) in diameter. The European Space Agency said the loss of power caused by the strike is "relatively small" -- less than 5 percent of the wing's usual output. The likelihood of such a strike is calculated at between 1:35 and 1:130 during the satellite's five-year lifetime, said Holger Krag, who heads the agency's space debris office. While the particle probably had a mass of less than 1 gram (0.04 ounces), scientists calculated that it was traveling at up to 40,000 kilometers an hour (24,856 mph) when it hit Sentinel-1A. Space.com has posted a video about the incident, showing images taken before and after the impact.

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