Encryption

US Encryption Ban Would Only Send the Market Overseas (dailydot.com) 78

Patrick O'Neill writes: A U.S. legislatures posture toward legally mandating backdoored encryption, a new Harvard study suggests that a ban would push the market overseas because most encryption products come from over non-U.S. tech companies. "Cryptography is very much a worldwide academic discipline, as evidenced by the quantity and quality of research papers and academic conferences from countries other than the U.S.," the researchers wrote.
Bitcoin

Researchers Discover a Cheap Method of Breaking Bitcoin Wallet Passwords (softpedia.com) 75

An anonymous reader writes: Three researchers have published a paper that details a new method of cracking Bitcoin "brain wallet passwords," which is 2.5 times speedier than previous techniques and incredibly cheap to perform. The researcher revealed that by using a run-of-the-mill Amazon EC2 account, an attacker would be able to check over 500,000 Bitcoin passwords per second. For each US dollar spent on renting the EC2 server, an attacker would be able to check 17.9 billion password strings. To check a trillion passwords, it would cost the attacker only $55.86 (€49.63). In the end, they managed to crack around 18,000 passwords used for real accounts.
The Courts

SCO vs. IBM Battle Over Linux May Finally Be Over (networkworld.com) 184

JG0LD writes with this news from Network World: A breach-of-contract and copyright lawsuit filed nearly 13 years ago by a successor company to business Linux vendor Caldera International against IBM may be drawing to a close at last, after a U.S. District Court judge issued an order in favor of the latter company earlier this week.
Here's the decision itself (PDF). Also at The Register.
Opera

Chinese Tech Group Offers To Buy Opera; Board Endorses 114

jones_supa writes: There's been plenty of speculation around the future of web browser maker Opera, and now that looks like it will soon be resolved. Today the Norway-headquartered company confirmed that it has received a $1.2 billion acquisition offer from a group fronted by Chinese consumer tech companies Kunlun Tech and Qihoo 360. The deal is for 100% of the company, and it represents a 53% premium on the company's valuation based on its most recent trading price. Opera's board said in a statement (PDF) that it has "unanimously decided to recommend" its shareholders to accept the bid. The final deal is subject to government and shareholders' approvals.
Advertising

Why Stack Overflow Doesn't Care About Ad Blockers 272

Press2ToContinue writes: Forging a bold step in the right direction, Stack Overflow announced today that they don't care if you use an ad blocker when you visit their site. "The truth is: we don't care if our users use ad blockers on Stack Overflow. More accurately: we hope that they won't, but we understand that some people just don't like ads. Our belief is that if someone doesn't like them, and they won't click on them, any impressions served to them will only annoy them-- plus, serving ads to people who won't click on them harms campaign performance. ... Publishers can't win by forcing ads — especially low-quality ads — in people's faces. Think scantily-clad women selling flight deals, weight-loss supplement promos or wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube-men promoting car dealerships." It's possible that this declaration by SO might help to clarify to advertisers that it is the overabundance of low quality ads that practically force the public to seek out ad blockers. But seriously, what is the likelihood of that?
Security

President Obama Unveils $19 Billion Plan To Overhaul U.S. Cybersecurity 184

erier2003 writes: President Obama on Tuesday unveiled an expansive plan to bolster government and private-sector cybersecurity by establishing a federal coordinator for cyber efforts, proposing a commission to study future work, and asking Congress for funds to overhaul dangerously obsolete computer systems. His newly signed executive orders contain initiatives to better prepare college students for cybersecurity careers, streamline federal computer networks, and certify Internet-connected devices as secure. The Cybersecurity National Action Plan also establishes a Federal Privacy Council (to review how the government stores Americans' personal information), creates the post of Chief Information Security Officer, and establishes a Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.
Australia

Australia Cuts 110 Climate Scientist Jobs: "The Science is Settled." 550

An anonymous reader writes: With an ax rather than a scalpel, Australia's federal science agency last week chopped off its climate research arm in a decision that has stunned scientists and left employees dispirited. Why? Because the science is settled, there is no need for more basic research, the government says. No doubt many will experience a case of schadenfreude as they see those who have long claimed "the science is settled" face the inevitable and logical consequence of that stance.
Businesses

Sen. Blumenthal Demands Lifting of IT 'Gag' Order (computerworld.com) 219

dcblogs writes: U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the layoff and replacement of IT workers by foreign workers at a state energy utility. But he is also demanding that the utility, Eversource Energy, drop a particularly restrictive non-disparagement clause that laid off employees had to sign to receive their severance. This clause bars discussion "that would tend to disparage or discredit" the utility. [emphasis added] He wants the employees, who had to train foreign replacements, to be able to state "honestly what happened to them."
Crime

Metel Hackers Roll Back ATM Transactions, Steal Millions (threatpost.com) 71

msm1267 writes: Researchers from Kaspersky Lab's Global Research & Analysis Team today unveiled details on two new criminal operations that have borrowed heavily from targeted nation-state attacks, and also shared an update on a resurgent Carbanak gang, which last year, it was reported, had allegedly stolen upwards of $1 billion from more than 100 financial companies. The heaviest hitter among the newly discovered gangs is an ongoing campaign, mostly confined to Russia, known as Metel. This gang targets machines that have access to money transactions, such as call center and support machines, and once they are compromised, the attackers use that access to automate the rollback of ATM transactions. As the attackers empty ATM after ATM—Metel was found inside 30 organizations—the balances on the stolen accounts remained untouched.
The Internet

India Blocks Facebook's Free Basics Internet Service (thestack.com) 133

An anonymous reader writes: India's leading telecom regulator, TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), has today voted against differential pricing, ruling with immediate effect that all data prices must be equal, and that companies cannot offer cheaper rates than others for certain content. The call is a significant blow to Facebook's Free Basics (previously Internet.org) initiative and Airtel Zero – projects which work to make internet access more accessible by providing a free range of "basic" services. The watchdog confirmed that providers would no longer be able to charge for data based on discriminatory tariffs but instead that pricing must be "content agnostic." It added that fines of Rs. 50,000 – 50 Lakh would be enforced should the regulations be violated.
Education

Massive Layoffs Hit University of Copenhagen 173

jones_supa writes: University of Copenhagen is cutting deep into its staff to cut operation costs. Even though a great deal of the savings are aimed at administration and service, they are expected to affect the quality of education and research many years ahead. More than 500 teachers, researchers and employees in service and administrative jobs will be leaving. This corresponds to 7% of all staff. 209 employees can anticipate being laid off, while 323 jobs are either discontinued or terminated via voluntary redundancy. In addition to this, the university will have to reduce its PhD intake by 10% in the coming years. This is the outcome of the government's 2016 budget which imposes huge savings on research and education. As you might remember, we just heard about a similar situation in University of Helsinki in Finland.
Bitcoin

Ask Slashdot: Time To Get Into Crypto-currency? If So, Which? 267

Qbertino writes: With the ever-looming cyberpunk future in close proximity, I'm starting to wonder if it isn't time to get myself familiar with crypto currency as a means of trade. Bitcoin is all the hype, but the blockchain has flaws, in that it isn't as anonymous as one would hope for — you can track past transactions. Rumors of Bitcoin showing cracks are popping up and also there are quite a few alternatives out there. So I have some questions: Is getting into dealing with crypto currency worthwhile already? Is Bitcoin the way to go, or will it falter under wide use / become easily trackable once NSA and the likes adapt their systems to doing exactly that? What digital currency has the technical and mind-share potential to supersede bitcoin? Are there feasible cryptocurrencies that have the upsides of Bitcoin (such as a mathematical limit to their amount) but are fully anonymous in transactions? What do the economists and digi-currency nerds here have to contribute on that? What are your experiences with handling and holding cryptocurrency? And does Bitcoin own the market or is it still flexible enough for an technology upgrade?
AI

Financial Advisers Disrupted By AI (bloomberg.com) 71

schwit1 writes: Banks are watching wealthy clients flirt with robo-advisers, and that's one reason the lenders are racing to release their own versions of the automated investing technology this year, according to a consultant. Robo-advisers, which use computer programs to provide investment advice online, typically charge less than half the fees of traditional brokerages, which cost at least 1 percent of assets under management.
Bug

Have Your iPhone 6 Repaired, Only To Get It Bricked By Apple (theguardian.com) 406

New submitter Nemosoft Unv. writes: In case you had a problem with the fingerprint sensor or some other small defect on your iPhone 6 and had it repaired by a non-official (read: cheaper) shop, you may be in for a nasty surprise: error 53. What happens is that during an OS update or re-install the software checks the internal hardware and if it detects a non-Apple component, it will display an error 53 and brick your phone. Any photos or other data held on the handset is lost – and irretrievable. Thousands of people have flocked to forums to express their dismay at this. What's more insiduous is that the error may only appear weeks or months after the repair. Incredibly, Apple says this cannot be fixed by any hard- or software update, while it is clearly their software that causes the problem in the first place. And then you thought FTDI was being nasty ...
Crime

Survey: Average Successful Hack Nets Less Than $15,000 (csoonline.com) 84

itwbennett writes: According to a Ponemon Institute survey, hackers make less than $15,000 per successful attack and net, on average, less than $29,000 a year. The average attacker conducts eight attacks per year, of which less than half are successful. Among the findings that will be of particular interest to defenders: Hackers prefer easy targets and will call off an attack if it is taking too long. According to the survey, 13 percent quit after a delay of five hours. A delay of 10 hours causes 24 percent to quit, a delay of 20 hours causes 36 to quit, and a majority of 60 percent will give up if an attack takes 40 additional hours. 'If you can delay them by two days, you can deter 60 percent of attacks,' said Scott Simkin, senior threat intelligence manager at Palo Alto Networks, which sponsored the study.
Bug

IRS Computer Problems Shut Down Tax Return E-file System (foxnews.com) 176

Mr.Intel writes: The IRS stopped accepting electronically filed tax returns Wednesday because of problems with some of its computer systems. The outage could affect refunds, but the agency said it doesn't anticipate "major disruptions." A "hardware failure" forced the shutdown of several tax processing systems, including the e-file system, the IRS said in a statement. The IRS.gov website remains available, but "where's my refund" and other services are not working. Some systems will be out of service at least until Thursday, the agency said. "The IRS is currently in the process of making repairs and working to restore normal operations as soon as possible," the IRS said.
Mars

Congressional Testimony Says NASA Has No Plan For the Journey To Mars (blastingnews.com) 310

MarkWhittington writes: Testimony at a hearing before the House Science Committee's Subcommittee on Space suggested that NASA's Journey to Mars lacks a plan to achieve the first human landing on the Red Planet, almost six years after President Obama announced the goal on April 15, 2010. Moreover, two of the three witnesses argued that a more realistic near term goal for the space agency would be a return to the moon. The moon is not only a scientifically interesting and potentially commercially profitable place to go but access to lunar water, which can be refined into rocket fuel, would make the Journey to Mars easier and cheaper.
Patents

Patent Troll VirnetX Awarded $626M In Damages From Apple (arstechnica.com) 134

Tackhead writes: Having won a $200M judgement against Microsoft in 2010, lost a $258M appeal against Cisco in 2013, and having beaten Apple for $368M in 2012, only to see the verdict overturned in 2014, patent troll VirnetX is back in the news, having been awarded $626M in damages arising from the 2012 Facetime patent infringement case against Apple.
Moon

Russia Begins Work On a Lunar Lander (examiner.com) 93

MarkWhittington writes: Whether and when Russia will try to send cosmonauts to the moon is an open question. The Putin government has heavily slashed spending on the Russian space program, a measure brought on by declining oil and gas revenues. But, as Popular Mechanics reports, Russian engineers have gone ahead and have started to design a lunar lander for the eventual Russian lunar surface effort. When money is going to be forthcoming for such a vehicle is unknown, though Russia could partner with another country with lunar ambitions, such as China or the European Union.

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