Space

SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches 8

Posted by Soulskill
from the low-earth-orbit-needs-more-lasers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Air Force has given private rocket company SpaceX clearance to launch military satellites into orbit. This disrupts the lock that Boeing and Lockheed Martin have had on military launches for almost a decade. SpaceX will get its first opportunity to bid for such launches in June, when the Air Force posts a contract to launch GPS satellites.
Government

Russian Space Agency Misused $1.8 Billion, May Be Replaced 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the that's-a-lot-of-vodka dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After a pair of high profile launch failures in the past few months, Russian space agency Roscosmos is making headlines again: this time for corruption. A public spending watchdog reported that the organization had misused 92 billion rubles ($1.8 billion) in 2014 alone. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said their space efforts have been undermined by rampant corruption. "We have uncovered acts of fraud, abuse of authority (and) document forgery. With such a level of moral decay, one should not be surprised at the high accident rate." He also said Roscosmos is to be "abolished," and replaced by a state corporation of the same name by the end of the year. "In its new, corporate identity, Roscosmos will be responsible not only for setting mission goals but managing wages for space industry workers and modernizing production facilities."
Security

IRS: Personal Info of 100,000 Taxpayers Accessed Illegally 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the disincentive-to-pay-your-taxes dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Associated Press reports that an online service provided by the IRS was used to gather the personal information of more than 100,000 taxpayers. Criminals were able to scrape the "Get Transcript" system to acquire tax return information. They already had a significant amount of information about these taxpayers, though — the system required a security check that included knowledge of a person's social security number, date of birth, and filing status. The system has been shut down while the IRS investigates and implements better security, and they're notifying the taxpayers whose information was accessed.
United Kingdom

British Politicians Delete Negative Wikipedia Descriptions Before Election 114

Posted by timothy
from the war-on-the-ground dept.
EwanPalmer writes: The Wikipedia pages of dozens of UK politicians had references to sex scandals, fraud and opposition to same sex marriage removed in the run up to the UK general election. Dozens of MPs had negative aspects of their online biographies removed or altered prior to the election in a bid to make them more electable. The changes include several instances of MPs' expense claim scandals being removed, as well as details of arrests and the use of 'chauffeur-driven cars.' The edits were made using computers with IP addresses registered from inside Parliament.
Privacy

Privacy Behaviors Changed Little After Snowden 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-another-speed-bump-in-the-new-cycle dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An article in Communications of the ACM takes a look at how Edward Snowden's revelations about government surveillance have changed privacy behaviors across the world. The results are fairly disappointing. While the news that intelligence agencies were trawling data from everyday citizens sparked an interest in privacy, it was small, and faded quickly. Even through media coverage has continued for a long time after the initial reports, public interest dropped back to earlier levels long ago. The initial interest spike was notably less than for other major news events. Privacy-enhancing behaviors experienced a small surge, but that too failed to impart any long-term momentum. The author notes that the spike in interest "following the removal of privacy-enhancing functions in Facebook, Android, and Gmail" was stronger than the reaction to the government's privacy-eroding actions.
EU

EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-it-don't-spray-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The European Union recently published plans to ban 31 pesticides containing chemicals linked to testicular cancer and male infertility. Those potential regulations have now been dropped after a U.S. business delegation said they would adversely affect trade negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. "Just weeks before the regulations were dropped there had been a barrage of lobbying from big European firms such as Dupont, Bayer and BASF over EDCs. The chemical industry association Cefic warned that the endocrines issue 'could become an issue that impairs the forthcoming EU-US trade negotiations.'"
Privacy

San Bernardino Sheriff Has Used Stingray Over 300 Times With No Warrant 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After a records request by Ars, the sheriff in San Bernardino County (SBSD) sent an example of a template for a "pen register and trap and trace order" application. The county attorneys claim what they sent was a warrant application template, even though it is not. The application cites no legal authority on which to base the request. "This is astonishing because it suggests the absence of legal authorization (because if there were clear legal authorization you can bet the government would be citing it)," Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University, told Ars. "Alternatively, it might suggest that the government just doesn't care about legal authorization. Either interpretation is profoundly troubling," he added. Further documents reveal that the agency has used a Stingray 303 times between January 1, 2014 and May 7, 2015.
EU

Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment 724

Posted by samzenpus
from the broker-than-broke dept.
jones_supa writes: Greece, the country which has been in extreme financial trouble and high debt for years, cannot make debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month, unless it achieves a deal with creditors. 'The four installments for the IMF in June are €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion). This money will not be given and is not there to be given,' Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis told Greek Mega TV's weekend show. Shut out of bond markets and with bailout aid locked, cash-strapped Athens has been scraping state coffers to meet debt obligations and to pay wages and pensions. With its future as a member of the 19-nation eurozone potentially at stake, a second government minister accused its international lenders of subjecting it to slow and calculated torture.
News

Al-Qaeda's Job Application Form Revealed 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-a-job dept.
HughPickens.com writes: ABC News reports that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released a list of English-language material recovered during the raid the killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011 including one document dubbed "Instructions to Applicants," that would not be entirely out of place for an entry-level position at any American company – except for questions like the one about the applicant's willingness to blow themselves up. The questionnaire includes basic personal details, family history, marital status, and education level. It asks that applicants "answer the required information accurately and truthfully" and, "Please write clearly and legibly." Questions include: Is the applicant expert in chemistry, communications or any other field? Do they have a family member in the government who would cooperate with al Qaeda? Have they received any military training? Finally, it asks what the would-be jihadist would like to accomplish and, "Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?" For the final question, the application asks would-be killers that if they were to become martyrs, who should al Qaeda contact?

The corporate tone of the application is jarringly amusing, writes Amanda Taub, but it also hints at a larger truth: a terrorist organization like al-Qaeda is a large bureaucratic organization, albeit one in the "business" of mass-murdering innocent people. Jon Sopel, the North American editor from BBC News, joked that the application "looks like it has been written by someone who has spent too long working for Deloitte or Accenture, but bureaucracy exists in every walk of life – so why not on the path to violent jihad?"
Businesses

Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK 241

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-kind-of-them dept.
Mark Wilson sends word that Amazon will begin paying corporate taxes on profits made in the UK. The company had previously been recording most of its UK sales as being in Luxembourg, which let them avoid the higher taxes in the UK. But at the end of last year, UK regulators decided they were losing too much tax revenue because of this practice, so they began implementing legislation that would impose a 25% tax on corporations routing their profits elsewhere. Amazon is the first large corporation to make the change, and it's expected to put pressure on Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others to do the same.
United States

TPP Fast Track Passes Key Vote In the Senate, Moves On To the House 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
onproton writes: The Senate voted yesterday to reauthorize the controversial Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which expedites, or 'Fast Tracks,' the passage of trade agreements through Congress. If also approved by the House, it will grant the authority to decide and negotiate the terms of agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the executive branch, significantly limiting congressional involvement and leaving little room for debate. Proponents of the bill, namely the USTR, claim that Fast Tracking the TPP is critical to successfully negotiating its terms internationally, and will "ensure that Congress, stakeholders and the public are closely involved before, during and after the conclusion of trade agreement negotiations." Though in reality, it does not introduce significant changes in the transparency or reporting requirements that are currently in place, which have allowed the negotiations of this deal to be held in secret since 2009. With concerns being raised about the deal's impacts on everything from intellectual property rights to government sovereignty, it is surprising to many that Congress would abdicate their role in determining the specifics of agreements that may have far reaching implications for their constituents.
Communications

NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate 135

Posted by timothy
from the couldn't-have-happened-to-a-nicer-bill dept.
New submitter Steven King writes with a link to The Daily Dot's report that the U.S. Senate has rejected the controversial USA Freedom Act, thus "all but guaranteeing that key provisions of the USA Patriot Act will expire"; had it passed, the bill would have allowed continued use of some mass data-collection practices, but with the addition of stronger oversight. From the article: The Senate failed to reach agreement on passage of the USA Freedom Act, a bill to reauthorize and reform Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which the government has used to conduct bulk surveillance of Americans' phone records. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, but Senate Democrats, who unified behind the bill, did not get enough Republican votes to assure passage. The linked piece also mentions that the EFF shifted its position on this bill, after a panel of Federal judges ruled that the Feds at the NSA had overstepped their bounds in collecting a seemingly unlimited trove of metadata relating to American citizen's phone calls.
Earth

California Votes To Ban Microbeads 247

Posted by timothy
from the stock-up-now-on-crest dept.
New submitter Kristine Lofgren writes: The California Assembly just passed a vote to ban toxic microbeads, the tiny flecks found in toothpastes and exfoliants. Microbeads cause a range of problems, from clogging waterways to getting stuck in gums. The ban would be the strictest of its kind in the nation. As the article notes, the California Senate would need to pass a bill as well, for this ban to take effect, and if that happens, the resulting prohibition will come into place in 2020. From the article: Last year, Illinois became the first state in the U.S. to pass a ban on the usage of microbeads in cosmetics, approving a law that will go into effect in 2018, and earlier this year two congressmen introduced a bipartisan bill to outlaw the use of microbeads nationwide. And for exceptionally good reason; the beads, which serve as exfoliants and colorants are a massive source of water pollution, with scientists estimating that 471 million plastic microbeads are released into San Francisco Bay alone every single day.
The Media

WSJ Crowdsources Investigation of Hillary Clinton Emails 231

Posted by timothy
from the tag-this-story-recursive dept.
PvtVoid writes: The Wall Street Journal now has a page up that encourages readers to sift through and tag Hillary Clinton's emails on Benghazi. Users can click on suggested tags such as "Heated", "Personal", "Boring", or "Interesting", or supply their own tags. What could possibly go wrong? I'm tagging this story "election2016."
Security

Adult Dating Site Hack Reveals Users' Sexual Preference, Extramarital Affairs 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day,-another-breach dept.
An anonymous reader notes this report from Channel 4 News that Adult FriendFinder, one of the largest dating sites in the world, has suffered a database breach that revealed personal information for 3.9 million of its users. The leaked data includes email addresses, IP addresses, birth dates, postal codes, sexual preferences, and information indicating which of them are seeking extramarital affairs. There even seems to be data from accounts that were supposedly deleted. Channel 4 saw evidence that there were plans for a spam campaign against these users, and others are worried that a blackmail campaign will follow. "Where you've got names, dates of birth, ZIP codes, then that provides an opportunity to actually target specific individuals whether they be in government or healthcare for example, so you can profile that person and send more targeted blackmail-type emails," said cybercrime specialist Charlie McMurdy.
United States

What Was the Effect of Rand Paul's 10-Hour "Filibuster"? 376

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-keep-talking dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Sen. Rand Paul held up a vote on the Fast Track Authority for an eleven hour dissertation on the flaws of: the Patriot Act, the replacement the USA Freedom Act, bulk data collection including credit card purchases, the DEA and IRS's use of NSA intel. for "parallel construction", warrant-less GPS bugs on vehicles, as well as the important distinction of a general warrant versus a specific one. "There is a general veil of suspicion that is placed on every American now. Every American is somehow said to be under suspicion because we are collecting the records of every American," Paul said. The questions is what did the "filibuster" really accomplish? The speeches caused a delay in Senate business but it's unclear what larger effect, if any, that will have.
Businesses

Security Researchers Wary of Wassenaar Rules 34

Posted by samzenpus
from the rules-of-the-game dept.
msm1267 writes: The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security today made public its proposal to implement the controversial Wassenaar Arrangement, and computer security specialists are wary of its language and vagaries. For starters, its definition of "intrusion software" that originally was meant to stem the effect of spying software such as FinFisher and Hacking Team, has also apparently snared many penetration testing tools. Also, despite the Commerce Department's insistence that vulnerability research does not fall under Wassenaar, researchers say that's up for interpretation.
Government

Do Russian Uranium Deals Threaten World Supply Security? 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the plenty-to-go-around dept.
Lasrick writes: A recent article in the New York Times notes that the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and associated firms are gaining control of a growing number of uranium resources and mining operations. The article, headlined Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal focuses on donations to charities connected to former US President Bill Clinton and his family, made by businessmen who stood to profit from the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company with worldwide uranium-mining interests. But a major premise of the article is that Russian uranium control threatens the security of the global uranium supply. Steve Fetter and Erich Schneider demolish the idea that Russian control of uranium stocks is a threat to global security.
Encryption

'Logjam' Vulnerability Threatens Encrypted Connections 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day-another-vulnerability dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A team of security researchers has revealed a new encryption vulnerability called 'Logjam,' which is the result of a flaw in the TLS protocol used to create encrypted connections. It affects servers supporting the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, and it's caused by export restrictions mandated by the U.S. government during the Clinton administration. "Attackers with the ability to monitor the connection between an end user and a Diffie-Hellman-enabled server that supports the export cipher can inject a special payload into the traffic that downgrades encrypted connections to use extremely weak 512-bit key material. Using precomputed data prepared ahead of time, the attackers can then deduce the encryption key negotiated between the two parties."

Internet Explorer is the only browser yet updated to block such an attack — patches for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are expected soon. The researchers add, "Breaking the single, most common 1024-bit prime used by web servers would allow passive eavesdropping on connections to 18% of the Top 1 Million HTTPS domains. A second prime would allow passive decryption of connections to 66% of VPN servers and 26% of SSH servers. A close reading of published NSA leaks shows that the agency's attacks on VPNs are consistent with having achieved such a break." Here is their full technical report (PDF).
China

US Levels Espionage Charges Against 6 Chinese Nationals 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the coveting-our-baconnaise-technology dept.
Taco Cowboy writes: The U.S. government has indicted five Chinese citizens and arrested a Chinese professor on charges of economic espionage. The government alleges that they took jobs at two small, American chipmakers — Avago Technologies and Skyworks Solutions — in order to steal microelectronics designs. "All of them worked, the indictment contends, to steal trade secrets for a type of chip popularly known as a “filter” that is used for acoustics in mobile telephones, among other purposes. They took the technology back to Tianjin University, created a joint venture company with the university to produce the chips, and soon were selling them to both the Chinese military and to commercial customers."

It's interesting to note that the Reuters article keeps mentioning how this technology — used commonly as an acoustic filter — has "military applications." It's also interesting to look at another recent case involving Shirrey Chen, a hydrologist who was mysteriously arrested on suspicion of espionage, but then abruptly cleared five months later. One can't help but wonder what's driving the U.S.'s new strategy for tackling economic espionage.