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United States

Leaked Docs Reveal List of 30 Countries Hacked On Orders of FBI Informant Sabu 30

Posted by samzenpus
from the naming-names dept.
blottsie writes A Federal Bureau of Investigation informant targeted more than two dozen countries in a series of high-profile cyberattacks in 2012. The names of many of those countries have remained secret, under seal by a court order—until now. A cache of leaked IRC chat logs and other documents obtained by the Daily Dot reveals the 30 countries—including U.S. partners, such as the United Kingdom and Australia—tied to cyberattacks carried out under the direction of Hector Xavier Monsegur, better known as Sabu, who served as an FBI informant at the time of the attacks.
Communications

Back To Faxes: Doctors Can't Exchange Digital Medical Records 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-you-tried-paper-airplanes dept.
nbauman writes: Doctors with one medical records system can't exchange information with systems made by other vendors, including those at their own hospitals, according to the New York Times. One ophthalmologist spent half a million dollars on a system, but still needs to send faxes to get the information where it needs to go. The largest vendor is Epic Systems, Madison, WI, which holds almost half the medical records in the U.S. A report from RAND described Epic as a "closed" platform that made it "challenging and costly" for hospitals to interconnect.

The situation is bad for patients and costly for medical works: if doctors can't exchange records, they'll face a 1% Medicare penalty, and UC Davis alone has a staff of 22 dedicated to communication. On top of that, Epic charges a fee to send data to some non-Epic systems. Congress has held hearings on the matter, and Epic has hired a lobbyist. Epic's founder, billionaire computer science major Judith Faulkner, said that Epic was one of the first to establish code and standards for secure interchange, which included user authentication provisions and a legally binding contract. She said the federal government, which gave $24 billion in incentive payments to doctors for computerization, should have done that. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said that it was a "top priority" and just recently wrote a 10-year vision statement and agenda for it.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Hundreds of Police Agencies Distributing Spyware and Keylogger 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
realized sends this news from the EFF: For years, local law enforcement agencies around the country have told parents that installing ComputerCOP software is the "first step" in protecting their children online. ... As official as it looks,ComputerCOP is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies. The way ComputerCOP works is neither safe nor secure. It isn't particularly effective either, except for generating positive PR for the law enforcement agencies distributing it.

As security software goes, we observed a product with a keystroke-capturing function, also called a "keylogger," that could place a family's personal information at extreme risk by transmitting what a user types over the Internet to third-party servers without encryption. EFF conducted a security review of ComputerCOP while also following the paper trail of public records to see how widely the software has spread. Based on ComputerCOP's own marketing information, we identified approximately 245 agencies in more than 35 states, plus the U.S. Marshals, that have used public funds (often the proceeds from property seized during criminal investigations) to purchase and distribute ComputerCOP. One sheriff's department even bought a copy for every family in its county.
Government

The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine 458

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
An anonymous reader writes: You may recall Cody Wilson as the man behind the world's first 3D-printed gun. He built a company behind the ideals of DIY gun-making, and now he's come back with another device: the "Ghost Gunner," a CNC mill designed to create the lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle. "That simple chunk of metal has become the epicenter of a gun control firestorm. A lower receiver is the body of the gun that connects its stock, barrel, magazine and other parts. As such, it's also the rifle's most regulated element. Mill your own lower receiver at home, however, and you can order the rest of the parts from online gun shops, creating a semi-automatic weapon with no serial number, obtained with no background check, no waiting period or other regulatory hurdles. Some gun control advocates call it a "ghost gun." Selling that untraceable gun body is illegal, but no law prevents you from making one." Wilson's goal is still to render government gun regulation useless, even as debate rages on banning this kind of manufacturing.
Earth

Aral Sea Basin Almost Completely Dry 135

Posted by Soulskill
from the brand-new-beach-front-property-for-sale dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In 2000, NASA began taking satellite images of the Aral Sea in central Asia, which was once the fourth-largest inland lake in the world. At that time, there was an expansive eastern basin, and smaller basins to the north and west. In images recorded just last week, we see that the eastern basin is completely gone, and the western basin just a thin strip of water. The local fishing industry has been devastated, old ship graveyards now rest on dry ground, and salt-heavy sand is being blown around the region, causing health issues.

Most of the lake's decline is attributable to human intervention: "In the 1950s, two of the region's major rivers – the Amu Darya and and the Syr Darya – were diverted by the Soviet government to provide irrigation for cotton production in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, starving the Aral. It has been diminishing ever since, with the sea level dropping 16 meters between 1960 and 1996, according to the World Bank. Water levels are believed to be down to less than 10 per cent of what they were five decades ago." Low levels of rain and snow didn't help.
China

China Worried About Terrorist Pigeons 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the lesser-known-cousin-to-carrier-pigeons dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A pleasant event was planned for the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. A ceremony at Tiananmen Square would release 10,000 pigeons at sunrise to symbolize an era of peace. Unfortunately, even symbols of peace can apparently remind people of violence. Chinese authorities searched all 10,000 pigeons for "dangerous materials," after the government was concerned they might be used for attacks. The pigeons' feathers were checked, and they were given a cavity search as well. The reports did not indicate what kind of "dangerous materials" these pigeons might be carrying. It's unclear whether any pigeons disclosed terror plots under interrogation.
Privacy

The Executive Order That Redefines Data Collection 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-liberty-and-justice-for-all* dept.
sandbagger writes: " ...it is often the case that one can be led astray by relying on the generic or commonly understood definition of a particular word." That quote apparently applies to words offering constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. TechDirt looks at the redefinition of the term "collection" as redefined by Executive Order 12333 to allow basically every information dragnet, provided no-one looks at it. "Collection" is now defined as "collection plus action." According to this document, it still isn't collected, even if it has been gathered, packaged and sent to a "supervisory authority." No collection happens until examination. It's Schrodinger's data, neither collected nor uncollected until the "box" has been opened. This leads to the question of aging off collected data/communications: if certain (non) collections haven't been examined at the end of the 5-year storage limit, are they allowed to be retained simply because they haven't officially been collected yet? Does the timer start when the "box" is opened or when the "box" is filled?
Communications

Hong Kong Protesters Use Mesh Networks To Organize 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-stop-the-signal dept.
wabrandsma sends this article from New Scientist: Hong Kong's mass protest is networked. Activists are relying on a free app that can send messages without any cellphone connection. Since the pro-democracy protests turned ugly over the weekend, many worry that the Chinese government would block local phone networks. In response, activists have turned to the FireChat app to send supportive messages and share the latest news. On Sunday alone, the app was downloaded more than 100,000 times in Hong Kong, its developers said. FireChat relies on "mesh networking," a technique that allows data to zip directly from one phone to another via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Ordinarily, if two people want to communicate this way, they need to be fairly close together. But as more people join in, the network grows and messages can travel further. Mesh networks can be useful for people who are caught in natural disasters or, like those in Hong Kong, protesting under tricky conditions. FireChat came in handy for protesters in Taiwan and Iraq this year."
Television

FCC Rejects Blackout Rules 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-ban-them-altogether-please dept.
Today the Federal Communications Commission eliminated its sport blackout rules, which prevented cable and satellite television providers from showing sporting events that were blacked out on a local station. It's common practice in the NFL to black out football games locally if the stadium didn't sell enough tickets. The ruling now removes government protections for the NFL's policies (the NFL can continue to black out local broadcasts). The FCC's decision is based on "significant changes" to the industry over the 40 years since the rules were adopted. Television has replaced ticket sales as the primary source of revenue, and the NFL is incredibly popular. They also don't think there's any chance the NFL will move its games to pay-per-view.
Technology

Robotic Taster Will Judge 'Real Thai Food' 102

Posted by timothy
from the what-about-best-barbecue? dept.
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes The NYT reports that Thailand's former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra repeatedly encountered a distressing problem while traveling the world: bad Thai food. Too often, she found, the meals she sampled at Thai restaurants abroad were unworthy of the name, too bland to be called genuine Thai cooking. The problem bothered her enough to raise it at a cabinet meeting. Even though her political party has since been thrown out of office, in a May military coup, the Thai government is unveiling its project to standardize the art of Thai food using a robot. The government-financed Thai Delicious Committee, which oversaw the development of the machine, describes it as "an intelligent robot that measures smell and taste in food ingredients through sensor technology in order to measure taste like a food critic." Thailand's National Innovation Agency has spent about $100,000 to develop the e-delicious machine. The e-delicious machine has 10 sensors that measure smell and taste, generating a unique fingerprint (signature) for each sample of food that passes its digital maw. Generally with electronic tasting, there are electronic sensors that work just like the taste buds on your tongue, measuring the quantity of various taste-giving compounds, acidity, etc. While these electronic sensors can't actually tell you how something tastes — that's a very subjective, human thing — they are very good at comparing two foods scientifically. Meanwhile at a tiny food stall along one of Bangkok's traffic-clogged boulevards, Thaweekiat Nimmalairatana, questioned the necessity of a robatic taster. "I use my tongue to test if it's delicious or not," said Nimmalairatana. "I think the government should consider using a human to gauge authenticity."
Government

California Governor Vetoes Bill Requiring Warrants For Drone Surveillance 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the quis-custodiet-ipsos-drones? dept.
schwit1 sends word that California governor Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have required warrants for surveillance using unmanned drones. In his veto message (PDF), Brown said, "This bill prohibits law enforcement from using a drone without obtaining a search warrant, except in limited circumstances. There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate. The bill's exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required by either the 4th Amendment or the privacy provisions in the California Constitution."

The article notes that 10 other states already require a warrant for routine surveillance with a drone (Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin). Further, Brown's claims about the bill's exceptions are overstated — according to Slate, "California's drone bill is not draconian. It includes exceptions for emergency situations, search-and-rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. It allows other public agencies to use drones for other purposes — just not law enforcement."
Education

How Tech Is Transforming Teaching In a South African Township 26

Posted by Soulskill
from the please-say-cyborgs-please-say-cyborgs dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The founders of the African School for Excellence have an ambitious goal — nothing less than redefining low cost, scalable teaching that brings international standards to the poorest schools in Africa. Their first model school is off to a good start: in just 18 months, all grade 9 students are achieving scores higher than 50% on Cambridge Curriculum Checkpoint tests, and only one student scored less than 50% in math. The national average score in math is 13%. The school relies on a locally designed piece of marking software to function. Their teach-to-pupil ratios are not great, but the teachers are committed to using technology to stretch themselves as far as they can. What's most remarkable is that the school's running costs are already half the cost of a traditional government school, and the quality of education is much, much better. All this, and they're only a year and a half into the program.
Power

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power 473

Posted by Soulskill
from the fortunate-sun dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Incremental improvements have been slowly but surely pushing solar power toward mainstream viability for a few decades now. It's getting to the point where the established utilities are worried about the financial hit they're likely to take — and they're working to prevent it. "These solar households are now buying less and less electricity, but the utilities still have to manage the costs of connecting them to the grid. Indeed, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory argues that this trend could put utilities in dire financial straits. If rooftop solar were to grab 10 percent of the market over the next decade, utility earnings could decline as much as 41 percent." The utilities are throwing their weight behind political groups seeking to end subsidies for solar and make "net metering" policies go away. Studies suggest that if solar adoption continues growing at its current rate, incumbents will be forced to raise their prices, which will only persuade more people to switch to solar (PDF).
Businesses

Apple Faces Large Penalties In EU Tax Probe 120

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
First time accepted submitter chasm22 writes EU Regulators are apparently set to accuse Apple and the Irish government of entering into several sweetheart deals that left Apple with lower taxes than what it legally owed. If the ruling is upheld, Apple could owe billions in back taxes. Interestingly, it seems that the Irish government would actually get the extra money and suffer little for its part in the scheme.
United Kingdom

Piracy Police Chief Calls For State Interference To Stop Internet "Anarchy" 298

Posted by samzenpus
from the lock-it-down dept.
An anonymous reader writes The City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is determined to continue its anti-piracy efforts in the years to come. However, the unit's head, Andy Fyfe, also believes that the government may have to tighten the rules on the Internet to stop people from breaking the law. PIPCU's chief believes the public has to be protected from criminals, including pirate site operators who take advantage of their trust. If that doesn't happen, then the Internet may descend into anarchy, he says, suggesting that the government may have to intervene to prevent this. The Police chief believes tighter rules may be needed to prevent people from breaking the law in the future. This could mean not everyone is allowed to launch a website, but that a license would be required, for example.
Earth

Exxon and Russian Operation Discovers Oil Field Larger Than the Gulf of Mexico 199

Posted by samzenpus
from the drill-baby-drill dept.
An anonymous reader writes The state-run OAO Rosneft has discovered a vast pool of crude in the Kara Sea region of the Arctic Ocean, arguably bigger than the Gulf of Mexico. From the article: "The discovery sharpens the dispute between Russia and the U.S. over President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine. The well was drilled before the Oct. 10 deadline Exxon was granted by the U.S. government under sanctions barring American companies from working in Russia’s Arctic offshore. Rosneft and Exxon won’t be able to do more drilling, putting the exploration and development of the area on hold despite the find announced today."
NASA

Sierra Nevada Corp. Files Legal Challenge Against NASA Commercial Contracts 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-demand-a-recount dept.
New submitter Raymondware sends an update to last week's news that NASA had awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to provide rockets for future manned spaceflight. Now, one of their competitors, Sierra Nevada Corp, has announced it will launch a legal challenge to the contracts. The company claims the government is spending $900 million more than it needs to for equivalent fulfillment, and they're demanding a review. They add, Importantly, the official NASA solicitation for the CCtCap contract prioritized price as the primary evaluation criteria for the proposals, setting it equal to the combined value of the other two primary evaluation criteria: mission suitability and past performance. SNC’s Dream Chaser proposal was the second lowest priced proposal in the CCtCap competition. SNC’s proposal also achieved mission suitability scores comparable to the other two proposals. In fact, out of a possible 1,000 total points, the highest ranked and lowest ranked offerors were separated by a minor amount of total points and other factors were equally comparable.
Transportation

State of Iowa Tells Tesla To Cancel Its Scheduled Test Drives 334

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-reasons-and-whatnot dept.
puddingebola writes: Conflict continues between state governments and Tesla. From the article: "Iowa joined a growing list of states tussling with Tesla Motors' business model when it told the company to cut short three days of test drives earlier this month in West Des Moines. The Iowa Department of Transportation said the test drives were illegal for two reasons: Tesla isn't licensed as an auto dealer in Iowa and state law prohibits carmakers from selling directly to the public." While the article touches on the legal restrictions on selling cars in Iowa, it seems that Tesla was only providing test drives.
The Almighty Buck

The Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes 198

Posted by Soulskill
from the everything-you-suspected dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The radio program "This American Life" has published an extraordinary investigative report on how the U.S. government regulators in charge of keeping an eye on the banks actually interact with powerful financial institutions (podcast here). Financial journalist Michael Lewis describes the report thus: "The Fed failed to regulate the banks because it did not encourage its employees to ask questions, to speak their minds or to point out problems. Just the opposite: The Fed encourages its employees to keep their heads down, to obey their managers and to appease the banks. That is, bank regulators failed to do their jobs properly not because they lacked the tools but because they were discouraged from using them. The report quotes Fed employees saying things like, 'until I know what my boss thinks I don't want to tell you,' and 'no one feels individually accountable for financial crisis mistakes because management is through consensus.'"
NASA

NASA Expands Commercial Space Program 24

Posted by Soulskill
from the powered-by-capitalism dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Just 10 days after NASA awarded multi-billion-dollar contracts to SpaceX and Boeing for future manned rocket launches, the agency announced today it is expanding its commercial space program to include contracts for delivery missions to the International Space Station. "Under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 RFP, NASA intends to award contracts with one or more companies for six or more flights per contract. As with current resupply flights, these missions would launch from U.S. spaceports, and the contracted services would include logistical and research cargo delivery and return to and from the space station through fiscal year 2020, with the option to purchase additional launches through 2024."

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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