Technology archive for 2017-01-29

Ransomware Infects a Hotel's Key System

(2 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes:A luxury hotel "paid "thousands" in Bitcoin ransom to cybercriminals who hacked into their electronic key system. The "furious" hotel manager says it's the third time their electronic system has been attacked, though one local news site reports that "on the fourth attempt the hackers had no chance because the computers had been replaced and the latest security standards integrated, and some networks had been decoupled." The 111-year-old hotel is now planning to remove all their electronic locks, and return to old-fashioned door locks with real keys. But they're going public to warn other hotels -- some of which they say have also already been hit by ransomware. UPDATE: The hotel's managing director has clarified today that despite press reports, "We were hacked, but nobody was locked in or out" of their rooms. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The US Border Patrol Is Checking Detainees' Facebook Profiles

(2 years ago)
An anonymous reader quotes CNET:Border patrol agents are checking the Facebook accounts of people who are being held in limbo for approval to enter the U.S., according to a Saturday tweet by immigration lawyer Mana Yegani that was spotted by The Independent... Yegani, who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told CNET that checking phones has been reported by other lawyers as part of the vetting process. "[G]oing through passengers phones from the seven banned countries happens when the individual is interrogated (put under extreme vetting)," Yegani said. Yegani told The Independent that she and other lawyers have been fielding calls from people who are already cleared to live in America, but are getting stuck at the border regardless. "These are people that are coming in legally. They have jobs here and they have vehicles here," Yegani said in the report. The EFF warns that "Fourth Amendment protection is not as strong at the border as it is in your home or office. This means that law enforcement can inspect your computer or electronic equipment, even if they have no reason to suspect there is anything illegal on it. An international airport, even if many miles from the actual border, is considered the functional equivalent of a border." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Earnings Reveal $3.6 Billion Lost On 'Moonshots' In 2016

(2 years ago)
Thursday Google revealed earnings results for 2016 showing the total loss for their "other bets" division had reached $3.6 billion. An anonymous reader quotes CNN :The "other bets" portion of its business includes ambitious projects like self-driving cars, life sciences research and high-speed Internet access... Alphabet shuttered a project to beam Internet to rural areas with solar-powered drones, halted the expansion of its costly Google Fiber effort, and forced Nest to cut costs and pay for its own legal and PR expenses. At the same time, the company has moved other moonshot projects closer to market. In December, Alphabet spun off its self-driving car program into a separate company called Waymo and began working on partnerships with automakers. Google's CFO says going forward they'll "continue to calibrate the magnitude and pace of investments". Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Kalanick's work with Trump and tepid travel ban response prompt #DeleteUber backlash after company suspends surge pricing at JFK Airport amid taxi work stoppage (Matthew Dessem/Slate)

(2 years ago)
Matthew Dessem / Slate:Kalanick's work with Trump and tepid travel ban response prompt #DeleteUber backlash after company suspends surge pricing at JFK Airport amid taxi work stoppage  —  There are a lot of reasons to not use ride-hailing app Uber: shoddy labor practices; attempts to strong-arm local governments …

Toshiba Will Spin Off Some Of Its Memory Business

(2 years ago)
Lucas123 writes: Toshiba, which invented NAND flash, plans to sell off an as-of-yet undisclosed portion of its memory business, including its solid-state drive unit, to Western Digital. Toshiba is spinning the business off to WD, a business ally, because it hopes in the long run the Toshiba-WD alliance will enable an expansion in NAND flash production capacity and increased efficiency in storage product development... Currently, Toshiba and WD together represent 35% of global NAND flash production; Samsung leads that market with 36% of production. "Toshiba wants to put its memory business in a more stable financial position," said Sean Yang, research director of DRAMeXchange. "Facing mounting operational and competitive pressure, the spun-off entity will be more effective in raising cash to stay afloat or expand"... Toshiba's solvency and fundraising ability are also in trouble because of a $1.9 billion accounting scandal and a multi-billion dollar loss related to a nuclear plant purchase. Last week, Toshiba announced its share price had tumbled 13% after reports that its nuclear power business had lost $4.4 billion. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Tostitos' Breathalyzer Bags Can Detect If You're Drunk -- Then Call Uber

(2 years ago)
Slashdot reader schwit1 writes that Tostito's corn chips "has developed a special bag, available for a limited time, that can detect if you've had too much to drink." Its all-black packaging measures your breath for traces of alcohol, and if the test reveals you're sober, a green circle appears on the bag. But, Mashable reports...If it decides you've been drinking -- regardless of how much -- an image of a red steering wheel appears on the otherwise stark black bag along with a reminder not to drive and a code for a $10 Uber discount (valid only on Super Bowl Sunday). And if you've had so much to drink that the mere act of hailing an Uber becomes a difficult chore, the bag will even do that for you. The package is equipped with near-field communication technology that will automatically order a ride when tapped with a smartphone. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

ISPs, studios, and record labels end the four-year-old copyright alert system that sent warnings to users over P2P downloads of pirated content (Ted Johnson/Variety)

(2 years ago)
Ted Johnson / Variety:ISPs, studios, and record labels end the four-year-old copyright alert system that sent warnings to users over P2P downloads of pirated content  —  Major internet providers are ending a four-year-old system in which consumers received “copyright alerts” when they viewed peer-to-peer pirated content.

'Here's Where Google Hid Chrome's SSL Certificate Information'

(2 years ago)
"Google Chrome users have been contacting me wondering why they no longer could access the detailed status of Chrome https: connections, or view the organization and other data associated with SSL certificates for those connections," writes Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein, adding "Google took a simple click in an intuitive place and replaced it with a bunch of clicks scattered around."Up to now for the stable version of Chrome, you simply clicked the little green padlock icon on an https: connection, clicked on the "Details" link that appeared, and a panel then opened that gave you that status, along with an obvious button to click for viewing the actual certificate data such as Organization, issuance and expiration dates, etc. Suddenly, that "Details" link no longer is present... The full certificate data is available from the "Developers tools" panel under the "Security" label. In fact, that's where this info has been for quite some time, but since the now missing "Details" link took you directly to that panel, most users probably didn't even realize that they were deep in the Developers tools section of the browser. On some systems you can just press F12, but the alternate route is to click on the three vertical dots in the upper right, then select "More Tools", and then "Developer Tools". (And if you don't then see "Security", click on the " >>".)[..]

All-Corn Diet Turns Hamsters Into Cannibals

(2 years ago)
An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: A new paper outlines the efforts of scientists at the University of Strasbourg to determine why the European hamster has been dying off at an alarming rate... Previously, the rodent's diet consisted of grains, roots and insects. But the regions in which its numbers were dropping have been taken over by the industrial farming of corn... Researchers in France have discovered that a monotonous diet of corn causes hamsters to exhibit some unusual behavior -- cannibalism. âoeImproperly cooked maize-based diets have been associated with higher rates of homicide, suicide and cannibalism in humans," the researchers point out, and they believe it's the absence of vitamin B3 which is affecting the hamsters' nervous system and triggering dementia-like behavior. Hamsters are already an endangered species in Western Europe, so this is being heavily-researched. And they obviously won't improve their chances of survival with cannibalism. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ransomware Locks A Hotel's Guests In Their Rooms

(2 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes:A luxury hotel paid "thousands" in Bitcoin ransom to cybercriminals who hacked into their electronic key system, "locking hundreds of guests in or out of their rooms until the money was paid." The "furious" hotel manager says it's the third time their electronic system has been attacked, though one local news site reports that "on the fourth attempt the hackers had no chance because the computers had been replaced and the latest security standards integrated, and some networks had been decoupled." The 111-year-old hotel is now planning to remove all their electronic locks, and return to old-fashioned door locks with real keys. But they're going public to warn other hotels -- some of which they say have also already been hit by ransomware. Unless this is all just a big publicity stunt to advertise their new door locks. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Can A Robot Fool 'I Am Not A Robot' Captchas?

(2 years ago)
Business Insider reports on a new video showing a robotic arm apparently defeating the "I am not a robot" captcha test. An anonymous reader quotes their report:The Captcha the robot fools tracks the user's mouse movements to make sure they're a "real" human. So rather than trying to trick it with software -- a tactic that can often be detected -- it goes down the hardware route. Using a capacitive stylus, the robot physically moves the mouse on the trackpad, as if it were a real human wiggling their finger around. The computer doesn't stand a chance. So all you need is your own robotic arm -- although even then, it's apparently not that simple. The "I am not a robot" captcha grew out of Google's attempts to fight click fraud, according to a 2014 article in Wired, but it does more than watch mouse movements. It also "examines cues every user unwittingly provides: IP addresses and cookies provide evidence that the user is the same friendly human Google remembers from elsewhere on the Web," as well as some undisclosed variables, to create what Google describes as "a bag of cues." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Actor John Hurt Dies At Age 77

(2 years ago)
Slashdot reader necro81 writes: A fantastic chameleon of the stage and screen has died. Sir John Hurt passed away at age 77. Slashdot readers should recognize him as the first person to have a xenomorph burst from his chest in the original Alien (a scene he later parodied in Spaceballs ). Others may recall he played the downtrodden protagonist Winston Smith in the film adaption of 1984 , then later played the tyrannical High Chancellor in V for Vendetta . Also: the titular character in The Elephant Man, Caligula in I, Claudius, Ollivander in the Harry Potter films and, more recently, Gilliam in Snowpiercer. But his career spanned decades and genres, and our world is a bit meeker and colorless without him. Hurt also appeared as the War Doctor in five episodes of the new Doctor Who series, and provided the voice of Aragorn in Ralph Bakshi's 1978 adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

ISPs Finally Abandon The Copyright Alert System

(2 years ago)
"Major internet providers are ending a four-year-old system in which consumers received 'copyright alerts' when they viewed peer-to-peer pirated content," reports Variety.An anonymous reader quotes Engadget's update on the Copyright Alert System. It was supposed to spook pirates by having their internet providers send violation notices, with the threat of penalties like throttling. However, it hasn't exactly panned out. ISPs and media groups have dropped the alert system with an admission that it isn't up to the job. While the program was supposedly successful in "educating" the public on legal music and video options, the MPAA states that it just couldn't handle the "hard-core repeat infringer problem" -- there wasn't much to deter bootleggers. The organizations, which include the RIAA, haven't devised an alternative. "Surprise: it's hard to stop copyright violators just by asking them," reads their article's tagline, which attributes the failure of the system to naive optimism. "It assumed that most pirates didn't even realize they were violating copyright, and just needed to be shown the error of their ways." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

CNET Editor Rails Against Non-Consensual Windows Updates

(2 years ago)
schwit1 shares this angry commentary from a CNET senior editor: Maybe you're delivering a presentation to a huge audience. Maybe you're taking an online test. Maybe you just need to get some work done on a tight deadline.Windows doesn't care.Windows will take control of your computer, force-feed it updates, and flip the reset switch automatically — and there's not a damn thing you can do about it, once it gets started. If you haven't saved your work, it's gone. Your browser tabs are toast. And don't expect to use your computer again soon; depending on the speed of your drive and the size of the update, it could be anywhere from 10 minutes to well over an hour before your PC is ready for work. As far as I'm concerned, it's the single worst thing about Windows. It's only gotten worse in Windows 10. And when I poked around Microsoft, the overarching message I received was that Microsoft has no interest in fixing it. The editor recalls rebooting his Windows laptop while listening to a speech by Steve Jobs in 2010. (The reboot locked his computer for 20 minutes while updates were installed, "the first of three occasions that a forced Windows update would totally destroy my workflow at a critical moment.") He shares stories from other frustrated Windows users, urges readers to send him more anecdotes, and argues that Microsoft has even begun "actively getting rid of ways to keep users from disabling automatic updates."[..]

Google has accelerated efforts to forge ties with Trump administration post-election, but denies a change in strategy, saying it has long had GOP lobbyists (Cecilia Kang/New York Times)

(2 years ago)
Cecilia Kang / New York Times:Google has accelerated efforts to forge ties with Trump administration post-election, but denies a change in strategy, saying it has long had GOP lobbyists  —  WASHINGTON — Few companies have been as intimately tied to the Democratic Party in recent years as Google.

Trump's Executive Order Eliminates Privacy Act Protections For Foreigners

(2 years ago)
Long-time Slashdot reader Kernel Kurtz writes: January 28 is supposed to be Data Privacy Day, so it seems fitting in an alternative sort of way that U.S. President Trump just signed an executive order that eliminates Privacy Act protections for foreigners. As a non-American, I find it curious that the person who says he wants to bring jobs to America is simply confirming the post-Snowden belief that America is not a safe place to do business. The Privacy Act has been in place since 1974. But now section 14 of Trump's "Enhancing Public Safety" executive order directs federal agencies to "ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information" to the extent consistent with applicable law. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: Should You Tell Future Employers Your Salary History?

(2 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes:During the interview process for a technology job, I was asked to fill out an application which included questions about my compensation history. When I asked why, I was told that it was part of the background check and wouldn't be used to determine the size of the offer... What is the risk for the employer of not knowing that info? Is this standard procedure or part of a trend at technology companies? The original submission asks if this is ever a legitimate question -- or more to the point, "Is it anything more than an attempt to gain negotiating leverage?" So leave your best answers in the comments. When you're interviewing for a new IT job, should you tell future employers your salary history? Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Recent small moves by Google and Facebook, such as tweaking Trending topics, highlight how hard it is to limit misinformation online (New York Times)

(2 years ago)
New York Times:Recent small moves by Google and Facebook, such as tweaking Trending topics, highlight how hard it is to limit misinformation online  —  SAN FRANCISCO — Google and Facebook have been taking steps to curb the number of false news articles propagated across their sites.

Server Runs Continuously For 24 Years

(2 years ago)
In 1993 a Stratus server was booted up by an IT application architect -- and it's still running.An anonymous reader writes:"It never shut down on its own because of a fault it couldn't handle," says Phil Hogan, who's maintained the server for 24 years. That's what happens when you include redundant components. "Over the years, disk drives, power supplies and some other components have been replaced but Hogan estimates that close to 80% of the system is original," according to Computerworld. There's no service contract -- he maintains the server with third-party vendors rather than going back to the manufacturer, who says they "probably" still have the parts in stock. And while he believes the server's proprietary operating system hasn't been updated in 15 years, Hogan says "It's been extremely stable." The server will finally be retired in April, and while the manufacturer says there's some more Stratus servers that have been running for at least 20 years -- this one seems to be the oldest. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Who's Responsible For Accidents Caused By Open Source Self-Driving Car Software?

(2 years ago)
Here's the problem. "You could download Comma.ai's new open-source Python code from Github, grab the necessary hardware, and follow the company's instructions to add semi-autonomous capabilities to specific Acura and Honda model cars (with more vehicles to follow)," writes IEEE Spectrum. But then who's legally responsible if there's an accident?Long-time Slashdot reader Registered Coward v2 writes:While many legal experts agree OSS is "buyer beware" and that Comma.ai and its CEO Georg Hotz would not be liable, it's a gray area in the law. The software is release under the MIT OSS license and the Read Me contains the disclaimer "This is alpha-quality software for research purposes only... You are responsible for complying with local laws and regulatons." The U.S. Supreme Court, in a series of court cases in the 1990s, ruled open source code as free speech protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The question is does that release the author(s) from liability. The EU has no EU wide rules on liability in such cases. One open question is even if the person who used the software could not sue, a third party injured by it might be able to since they are not a party to the license agreement. An EFF attorney told HotHardware "Prosecutors and plaintiffs often urge courts to disregard traditional First Amendment protections in the case of software." But not everyone agrees. "Most legal experts that spoke with IEEE Spectrum -- and Hotz himself -- believe that if you[..]


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