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Updated: 23 hours 37 min ago

Facebook Fires Employee Who Allegedly Used Data Access To Stalk Women

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 12:30
After a member of the information security community provided evidence to Facebook's chief information security officer, the company has terminated a security engineer who allegedly used their work position to stalk women online. From a report: On Monday, Motherboard reported that Facebook was investigating a claim that one of its employees used access to data granted by their job to stalk women online. Facebook has since terminated the employee, Facebook confirmed to Motherboard on Tuesday, coincidentally shortly after the social media giant announced its upcoming dating service. "We are investigating this as a matter of urgency. It's important that people's information is kept secure and private when they use Facebook," Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief information security officer, told Motherboard in a statement.

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Nikola (Motors) is Suing Tesla

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 11:50
An anonymous reader shares a report: Nikola Tesla invented alternating electrical current. Nikola Motors is a mobility company working on a hydrogen-powered semi truck. Tesla makes fully electric vehicles and last December unveiled its EV Semi. Nikola Motors is suing Tesla Motors over patent infringements, according to Electrek. Nikola alleges that Tesla infringes on three of its patents: fuselage design, a wraparound windshield on a semi truck and a mid-entry door. Nikola claims that these design similarities have "caused confusion" among customers and stolen away over $2 billion in business, and that if problems arise with Tesla's Semi (like battery fires or glitches with autonomous driving), they'll be attributed to Nikola. Typical patent troll stuff.

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Tech Giants Hit by NSA Spying Slam Encryption Backdoors

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 11:13
A coalition of Silicon Valley tech giants has doubled down on its criticism of encryption backdoors following a proposal that would give law enforcement access to locked and encrypted devices. From a report: The group, which focuses on efforts to reform government surveillance, said in a statement that it continues to advocate for strong encryption, and decried attempts to undermine the technology. "Recent reports have described new proposals to engineer vulnerabilities into devices and services -- but they appear to suffer from the same technical and design concerns that security researchers have identified for years," the statement read. The renewed criticism follows a lengthy Wired article, in which former Microsoft software chief Ray Ozzie proposed a new spin on key escrow. Device encryption has hampered police investigations, and law enforcement officials have pushed tech companies to fix the problem -- even by way of suing them.

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Facebook's Free Walled-Garden Internet Program Ended Quietly in Myanmar, Several Other Places Last Year

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 10:34
An anonymous reader shares a TechCrunch report: As recently as last week, Facebook was touting the growth of Free Basics, its Internet.org project designed to give users free curated web access in developing countries, but the app isn't working out everywhere. As the Outline originally reported and TechCrunch confirmed, the Free Basics program has ended in Myanmar, perhaps Facebook's most controversial non-Western market at the moment. Myanmar is not the only place where Free Basics has quietly ended. The program has been abruptly called off in more than half a dozen nations and territories in the recent months, according to an analysis by The Outline. People in Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, Trinidad and Tobago, Republic of Congo, Anguilla, El Salvador, and Saint Lucia have also lost access to Facebook's free internet program. Additionally, Facebook was testing Free Basics service in Zimbabwe in mid-2016 in partnership with local telecom operator Telecel. The test program has yet to materialize into a wider roll-out.

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A Critical Security Flaw in Popular Industrial Software Put Power Plants At Risk

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 09:49
A severe vulnerability in a widely used industrial control software could have been used to disrupt and shut down power plants and other critical infrastructure. From a report: Researchers at security firm Tenable found the flaw in the popular Schneider Electric software, used across the manufacturing and power industries, which if exploited could have allowed a skilled attacker to attack systems on the network. It's the latest vulnerability that risks an attack to the core of any major plant's operations at a time when these systems have become a greater target in recent years. The report follows a recent warning, issued by the FBI and Homeland Security, from Russian hackers. The affected Schneider software, InduSoft Web Studio and InTouch Machine Edition, acts as middleware between industrial devices and their human operators. It's used to automate the various moving parts of a power plant or manufacturing unit, by keeping tabs on data collection sensors and control systems. But Tenable found that a bug in that central software could leave an entire plant exposed.

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Google Chrome is Freezing Intermittently With the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, Users Say

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 09:08
Several users who have updated their computers to Windows 10 April 2018 Update are reporting that Chrome is freezing their machines. From a report: I have now used the April 2018 Update for nearly 24 hours and the same problem has presented itself no less than five times. For a machine - which was working perfectly prior to the update - with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, I naturally resorted to Reddit and Microsoft forum threads to see if others were experiencing the issue. It appears that several users on Reddit (spotted by Softpedia) with machines sporting varying configurations are experiencing the problem as well, and the only fix to it is the one I found too; that is, putting the laptop to sleep using the power button or closing the lid.

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Facebook Brags That Messenger Has 300,000 Business Bots

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 08:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mashable: At F8, Facebook's Vice President of Messaging Products, David Marcus, jovially reported that Messenger's integration with business is going swimmingly. According to Marcus, over 8 billion messages have been sent between people and businesses. And there are 300,000 monthly active bots engaging with customers on messenger. Facebook introduced messenger bots for businesses at F8 in 2016. The idea is that bots allow for automated communication between businesses and customers, helping with issues like product recommendations and customer service. According to Marcus, that 300,000 number grew from just 100,000 monthly active bots in its first year.

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GitHub Accidentally Exposes Some Plaintext Passwords In Its Internal Logs

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 05:00
GitHub has sent an email to some of its 27 million users alerting them of a bug that exposed some user passwords in plaintext. "During the course of regular auditing, GitHub discovered that a recently introduced bug exposed a small number of users' passwords to our internal logging system," said the email. "We have corrected this, but you'll need to reset your password to regain access to your account." ZDNet reports: The email said that a handful of GitHub staff could have seen those passwords -- and that it's "unlikely" that any GitHub staff accessed the site's internal logs. It's unclear exactly how this bug occurred. GitHub's explanation was that it stores user passwords with bcrypt, a stronger password hashing algorithm, but that the bug "resulted in our secure internal logs recording plaintext user passwords when users initiated a password reset." "Rest assured, these passwords were not accessible to the public or other GitHub users at any time," the email said. GitHub said it "has not been hacked or compromised in any way."

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Scammers Are Using Google Maps To Skirt Link-Shortener Crackdown, Redirect Users To Dodgy Websites

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 02:00
According to security company Sophos, scam websites have been using obfuscated Google Maps links to redirect users to dodgy websites. The Register reports: The reason for this is Google's recent efforts to get rid of its Goo.gl URL-shortening service. The link-shortening site is a favorite for scammers looking to hide the actual address of pages. Without Goo.gl to pick on, scammers are now abusing a loophole in the Maps API that allows for redirects to be put into Google Maps URLs. This allows the attackers to chain the links to their scam pages within a link to Google Maps, essentially creating a more trustworthy URL that users are more likely to follow. The trick also has the benefit of being harder to catch and shut down than links made with the well-policed Goo.gl service. Because it uses Google Maps, there's no reporting structure in place to get the scammers shut down and the scammers don't have to use a Google-owned interface or API to do it.

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Researchers Want To Turn Your Entire House Into a Co-Processor Using the Local Wi-Fi Signal

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 22:30
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via Ars Technica: Researchers are proposing an idea to make your computer bigger. They are suggesting an extreme and awesome form of co-processing. They want to turn your entire house into a co-processor using the local Wi-Fi signal. Why, you may be asking, do we even want to do this in the first place? The real answer is to see if we can. But the answer given to funding agencies is thermal management. In a modern processor, if all the transistors were working all the time, it would be impossible to keep the chip cool. Instead, portions of the chip are put to sleep, even if that might mean slowing up a computation. But if, like we do with video cards, we farm out a large portion of certain calculations to a separate device, we might be able to make better use of the available silicon. So, how do you compute with Wi-Fi in your bedroom? The basic premise is that waves already perform computations as they mix with each other, it's just that those computations are random unless we make some effort to control them. When two waves overlap, we measure the combination of the two: the amplitude of one wave is added to the amplitude of the other. Depending on the history of the two waves, one may have a negative amplitude, while the other may have a positive amplitude, allowing for simple computation. The idea here is to control the path that each wave takes so that, when they're added together, they perform the exact computation that we want them to. The classic example is the Fourier transform. A Fourier transform takes an object and breaks it down into a set of waves. If these waves are added together, the object is rebuilt. You can see an example of this in the animation here.

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FCC Commissioner Broke the Law By Advocating for Trump, Officials Find

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 20:25
A newly released letter from government officials finds that Republican FCC commissioner Michael O'Reilly broke a federal law preventing officials from advocating for political candidates when he told a crowd that one way to avoid policy changes was to "make sure that President Trump gets reelected." The Verge reports: After he made the comments, the watchdog group American Oversight filed a letter with the Office of Special Counsel, which handles Hatch Act complaints. In response to the group's letter, the Office of Special Counsel said today that O'Rielly did, in fact, violate the Hatch Act. The letter said O'Rielly responded that he was only trying to provide an explanatory answer to how those changes in policy could be stopped, but the office rejected that reasoning. The office said it has sent a warning letter to O'Rielly this time, but will consider other infractions "a willful and knowing violation of the law" that could lead to legal action.

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Apple Beats Sales Estimates Amid Reports of Poor Demand For iPhone X

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 19:45
Apple today reported revenue and profit that beat analysts' estimates and projected continued sales momentum. The results come amid reports that demand for its flagship iPhone X have fallen. Bloomberg reports: Apple revenue rose 16 percent to $61.1 billion in the fiscal second quarter. That was the fastest growth in more than two years. Profit came in at $2.73 a share, the company said Tuesday in a statement. Analysts expected sales of $60.9 billion and earnings per share of $2.64, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Fiscal third-quarter revenue will be $51.5 billion to $53.5 billion, also ahead of Wall Street forecasts. Apple sold 52.2 million iPhones in the fiscal second quarter, up 2.9 percent from a year earlier. Analysts had projected of 52.3 million, on average, although some investors expected fewer units. The average selling price was $728, versus analysts' expectations of $740. That suggested the flagship iPhone X didn't perform as well as some anticipated when it launched last year. Earlier this year, Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said iPhone revenue would grow by at least 10 percent year-over-year in the fiscal second quarter. Apple easily hit that goal, with 14 percent iPhone revenue growth in the period.

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California Leads States In Suing the EPA For Attacking Vehicle Emissions Standards

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 19:03
California, along with seventeen other states, announced a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency today over its recent rollback of Obama-era vehicle emissions and fuel economy standards. The states argue that the EPA "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" in overturning the previous administration's decision. The Verge reports: The standards in question were drawn up in 2009 and adopted in 2012. They laid out a path for automakers to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by reaching an average fleet fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2024. Since the program was charting a course that stretched out more than a decade into the future, it was written into the rules that the EPA would have to perform a "mid-term evaluation" before April 1st, 2018. This review would serve two purposes: assess whether automakers were on track, and then use that information to determine if the last section of the standards (which apply to model year 2022-2025 cars) were still feasible. The EPA, under Barack Obama, kicked off this review process ahead of schedule in the summer of 2016 when it published an extensive 1,200-page technical assessment that analyzed whether the standards were working. In January 2017, the outgoing EPA wrapped this evaluation and determined that the bar was not set too high. In fact, it argued, automakers were overwhelmingly compliant. The Trump EPA's decision in April did not set new standards -- it simply argued that there were problems with the existing standards. In the meantime, the agency and the Department of Transportation are currently working together to craft and officially propose new standards. But the previous standards that the EPA said were inappropriate will technically remain in place until that happens.

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Nintendo Faces Switch Patent Infringement Investigation In the US

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 18:23
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: Nintendo is under investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission, and the fate of the Switch hangs in the balance. Gamevice, the company behind the Wikipad and a line of snap-on controllers for mobile devices, says the Nintendo Switch violates its patents on attachable handheld gamepads and their related accessories. Alleging violations of the Tariff Act of 1930, Gamevice is requesting a cease and desist order against Nintendo, a move that would halt imports of the Switch into the U.S. The USITC notes that while its investigation has begun, it hasn't ruled on the validity of the complaint. The commission will hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Nintendo is in violation of the Tariff Act, with a final decision "at the earliest practicable time." The USITC will announce a target date for the end of the investigation within 45 days.

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Gig Economy Business Model Dealt a Blow in California Ruling

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 17:45
In a ruling with potentially sweeping consequences for the so-called gig economy, the California Supreme Court on Monday made it much more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. The New York Times: The decision could eventually require companies like Uber, many of which are based in California, to follow minimum-wage and overtime laws and to pay workers' compensation and unemployment insurance and payroll taxes, potentially upending their business models. Industry executives have estimated that classifying drivers and other gig workers as employees tends to cost 20 to 30 percent more than classifying them as contractors. It also brings benefits that can offset these costs, though, like the ability to control schedules and the manner of work. "It's a massive thing -- definitely a game-changer that will force everyone to take a fresh look at the whole issue," said Richard Meneghello, a co-chairman of the gig-economy practice group at the management-side law firm Fisher Phillips. The court essentially scrapped the existing test for determining employee status, which was used to assess the degree of control over the worker. That test hinged on roughly 10 factors, like the amount of supervision and whether the worker could be fired without cause.

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