Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. ×
United States

Americans at Risk of Identity Theft as They File their Tax Returns (betanews.com) 75

Ian Barker, writing for BetaNews: As we move into the tax return season a new study reveals that attitudes to identity theft and a pattern of poor practices are leaving much of the public vulnerable. Data security and ID theft protection company CyberScout has carried out its second annual Tax Season Risk Report and finds 58 percent of Americans are not worried about tax fraud in spite of federal reports of 787,000 confirmed identity theft returns in 2016, totaling more than $4 billion in potential fraud. Among other findings are that only 35 percent of taxpayers demand that their preparers use two-factor authentication to protect their clients' personal information. Less than a fifth (18 percent) use an encrypted USB drive to save important documents like tax worksheets, W-2s, 1099s or 1040s. And another 38 percent either store tax documents on their computer's hard drive or in the cloud, approaches that are susceptible to a variety of hacks.
Android

ZDNet: Linux 'Takes The World' While Windows Dominates The Desktop (zdnet.com) 224

ZDNet editor-in-chief Steve Ranger writes that desktop dominance is less important with today's cloud-based apps running independent of operating system, arguing that the desktop is now "just one computing platform among many." An anonymous reader quotes his report: Linux on the desktop has about a 2% market share today and is viewed by many as complicated and obscure. Meanwhile, Windows sails on serenely, currently running on 90% of PCs in use... That's probably OK because Linux won the smartphone war and is doing pretty well on the cloud and Internet of Things battlefields too.

There's a four-in-five chance that there's a Linux-powered smartphone in your pocket (Android is based on the Linux kernel) and plenty of IoT devices are Linux-powered too, even if you don't necessarily notice it. Devices like the Raspberry Pi, running a vast array of different flavours of Linux, are creating an enthusiastic community of makers and giving startups a low-cost way to power new types of devices. Much of the public cloud is running on Linux in one form or another, too; even Microsoft has warmed up to open-source software.

Open Source

New Free O'Reilly Ebook: 'Open Source In Brazil' (oreilly.com) 54

An anonymous reader writes: Andy Oram, who's been an editor at O'Reilly since 1992, has written a new free report about how open source software is everywhere in Brazil. The country's IT industry is booming in Brazil -- still Latin America's most vibrant economy -- with open source software popular in both startups and in cloud infrastructure. Oram attributes this partly to the government's support of open source software, which over the last 15 years has built public awareness about its power and potential. And says the Brazil now has a thriving open source community, and several free software movements. Even small towns have hacker spaces for collaboration and training, and the country has several free software movements.
Toys

German Government Tells Parents: Destroy This WiFi-Connected Doll (theverge.com) 140

It's illegal in Germany now to sell a talking doll named "My Friend Cayla," according to a story shared by Slashdot reader Bruce66423. And that's just the beginning. The Verge reports: A German government watchdog has ordered parents to "destroy" an internet-connected doll for fear it could be used as a surveillance device. According to a report from BBC News, the German Federal Network Agency said the doll (which contains a microphone and speaker) was equivalent to a "concealed transmitting device" and therefore prohibited under German telecom law... In December last year, privacy advocates said the toy recorded kids' conversations without proper consent, violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

Cayla uses a microphone to listen to questions, sending this audio over Wi-Fi to a third-party company that converts it to text. This is then used to search the internet, allowing the doll to answer basic questions, like "What's a baby kangaroo called?" as well as play games. In addition to privacy concerns over data collection, security researchers found that Cayla can be easily hacked. The doll's insecure Bluetooth connection can be compromised, letting a third party record audio via the toy, or even speak to children using its voice.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has said toys like this "subject young children to ongoing surveillance...without any meaningful data protection standards." One researcher pointed out that the doll was accessible from up to 33 feet away -- even through walls -- using a bluetooth-enabled device.
The Courts

SAP License Fees Also Due For Indirect Users, Court Rules (networkworld.com) 123

SAP's licensing fees "apply even to related applications that only offer users indirect visibility of SAP data," according to a Thursday ruling by a U.K. judge. Slashdot reader ahbond quotes Network World: The consequences could be far-reaching for businesses that have integrated their customer-facing systems with an SAP database, potentially leaving them liable for license fees for every customer that accesses their online store. "If any SAP systems are being indirectly triggered, even if incidentally, and from anywhere in the world, then there are uncategorized and unpriced costs stacking up in the background," warned Robin Fry, a director at software licensing consultancy Cerno Professional Services, who has been following the case...

What's in dispute was whether the SAP PI license fee alone is sufficient to allow Diageo's sales staff and customers to access the SAP data store via the Salesforce apps, or whether, as SAP claims, those staff and customers had to be named as users and a corresponding license fee paid. On Thursday, the judge sided with SAP on that question.

XBox (Games)

Microsoft's 'Forza' Video Game Francise Tops $1 Billion in Sales (xbox.com) 35

Here's another area where Microsoft, whose cloud services are doing very well, continues to make a lot of money: video games. Microsoft has minted its fifth billion-dollar video-game franchise. The "Forza" racing series in December topped $1 billion in lifetime sales since the first game's release 12 years ago, Microsoft said. From company's blogpost: As of December, more than 14 million unique players were involved in the Forza community on Xbox One and Windows 10, the award-winning Forza Horizon 3 sold through 2.5 million units, and Forza continued its run as the best-selling racing franchise of this console generation. Additionally, our online racing community expanded significantly: over three million players joined us online each month and we launched the Forza Racing Championship, an eSports league for players of all skill levels to compete for glory and real-world prizes. "Since the beginning, Forza has combined stunning graphics, racing's leading simulation engine, and an emphasis on fun and accessibility," said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. "With the Forza series, Turn 10 Studios has built the world's largest racing community. We couldn't be more proud of their success." Other game franchises in Microsoft's billion-dollar club are "Halo," "Minecraft," "Gears of War", and "Age of Empires".
Cloud

Microsoft Launches Outlook.com Premium Email Service, Costs $20 Per Year (thurrott.com) 81

Outlook.com Premium email service, which Microsoft began testing in October, is now available to all. You get the following features with this paid service, via a report: Outlook.com Premium provides a number of useful features: (1) Custom domain support for five users.

(2) Information sharing: Outlook Premium helps you easily share calendars, contacts, and documents (via OneDrive) between those five users.

(3) Ad-free inbox: Like Ad-Free Outlook.com, Outlook Premium offers no "banner ads" for a "distraction-free view of your email, photos, and documents."

Microsoft

Microsoft's Open-Source Graph Engine Takes On Neo4j (infoworld.com) 17

An anonymous reader quotes a report from InfoWorld: Sometimes the relationships between the data you've gathered are more important than the data itself. That's when a graph processing system comes in handy. It's an important but often poorly understood method for exploring how items in a data set are interrelated. Microsoft's been exploring this area since at least 2013, when it published a paper describing the Trinity project, a cloud-based, in-memory graph engine. The fruits of the effort, known as the Microsoft Graph Engine, are now available as an MIT-licensed open source project as an alternative to the likes of Neo4j or the Linux Foundation's recently announced JanusGraph. Microsoft calls Graph Engine (GE) as "both a RAM store and a computation engine." Data can be inserted into GE and retrieved at high speed since it's kept in-memory and only written back to disk as needed. It can work as a simple key-value store like Memcached, but Redis may be the better comparison, since GE stores data in strongly typed schemas (string, integer, and so on). How does all this shape up against the leading open source graph database, Neo4j? For one, Neo4j has been in the market longer and has an existing user base. It's also available in both an open source community edition and a commercial product, whereas GE is only an open source project right now.
Media

Netflix Geoblocking Loosened Under New EU Law (thestack.com) 56

An anonymous reader writes: "The European Parliament is now finalizing legislation which will allow EU residents to access their paid subscriptions for online media -- such as video streaming, games and music -- while visiting other EU countries," reports The Stack. Under the new rules, companies will not be able to arbitrarily block subscribers from accessing the content catalog of their home countries while visiting other parts of the European Union, with country of origin to be established by various possible methods besides IP address, including payment details, public tax information and 'checks on electronic identification'. The issue was brought to a head last year when Netflix began blocking the known IPs of VPN providers, often used by subscribers to access the catalogs of their home countries while travelling.
Microsoft

Microsoft Allowed To Sue US Government Over Email Surveillance (bloomberg.com) 56

A judge has ruled that Microsoft is allowed to sue the U.S. government over a policy that prevents the tech company from telling its users when their emails are being intercepted. From a report on Bloomberg: The judge said Microsoft has at least made a plausible argument that federal law muzzles its right to speak about government investigations, while not ruling on the merits of the case. "The public debate has intensified as people increasingly store their information in the cloud and on devices with significant storage capacity," U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle said in Thursday's ruling. "Government surveillance aided by service providers creates unique considerations because of the vast amount of data service providers have about their customers."
Iphone

Apple Fails To Remove 'Deleted' Safari Web Browser Histories From iCloud (betanews.com) 29

Reader BrianFagioli writes: Apple was storing Safari browsing histories in iCloud, even after they had been 'deleted' by the user, with such records being kept going back to 2015 -- although apparently this was an accidental by-product of the way the cloud syncing system works rather than anything malicious, and the issue has now been fixed. This information first came to light in a Forbes report, which cited Vladimir Katalov, the chief executive of Elcomsoft, a Russian security firm (which focuses on password/system recovery). Katalov stumbled onto the issue when reviewing the browsing history on his iPhone, when he discovered his supposedly deleted surfing history still present in iCloud, being able to extract it by using his company's Phone Breaker tool.
Patents

Microsoft Now Offers Patent Troll Defense For Azure Customers (thestack.com) 31

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft Azure will now offer customers protection against patent trolling, via Redmond's considerable collection of 10,000 legal patents. The practice of patent trolling has become an industry hazard for startups in the last fifteen years, with companies forming solely for the purpose of exploiting obscure or difficult-to-research patents which may overlap with the IP of startups. As of today, Azure is offering 'uncapped indemnification coverage', including coverage against open-source implementations of entities such as Hadoop, which forms the basis of Azure's HD Insight product.
Cloud

RethinkDB Gets Acquired By the Cloud Native Compute Foundation; Joins the Linux Foundation (techcrunch.com) 21

An anonymous reader writes:The Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) today announced that it has acquired the RethinkDB copyright and assets, including its code, and contributed it to The Linux Foundation. RethinkDB, which had raised about $12.2 million in venture capital for its open-source database, went out of business in October 2016. The CNCF says it paid $25,000 to complete this transaction. The code will now be available under the Apache license.
Desktops (Apple)

Microsoft Is Disabling Older Versions of Skype For Mac and Windows On March 1 (venturebeat.com) 113

If you're using an older, outdated version of Skype, you may want to consider updating soon. Microsoft said today that starting on March 1 people will no longer be able to sign in to version 7.16 of Skype for Window desktop and older versions, and version 7.18 of Skype for Mac and older versions thereof. VentureBeat reports: "If you're one of those users, all you'll need to do is download the new update," the Skype team said in a blog post. This isn't the first time Skype is retiring old software. But that doesn't mean the upcoming move won't rankle some people. Version 7.18 of Skype for Mac and version 7.16 of Skype for Windows both came out less than a year and a half ago -- in December 2015. So it's not as if this is very old software. Still, Microsoft has been doing a lot to improve Skype in the past year. It's been migrating the app to its Azure public cloud infrastructure, and adding chatbots. Current versions of Skype -- like version 7.44 for Mac -- come with amenities like better previews of websites and better support for emoticons and other content in the input box for chats. "We've poured our energy and passion into creating something truly special, and this is just the beginning," Skype said.
Operating Systems

First Screenshots of Microsoft's Windows 10 Cloud OS Leak Online (zdnet.com) 78

The first alleged screenshots of Microsoft's Windows 10 Cloud operating system have leaked, courtesy of Windows Blog Italia. "The screenshots seem to show a coming version of the operating system that is locked down in a way similar to the way Microsoft locked down Windows RT and, before that the Windows 8.1 with Bing version of Windows," reports ZDNet. From the report: According to Windows Blog Italia, which said they've had a chance to test the current version of Windows 10 Cloud, the product can run Windows Store apps only. The site noted that Windows Store apps built using Microsoft's "Centennial" Desktop bridge, which enables developers to move their Win32 apps to the Windows Store, work on the version of Windows 10 Cloud to which they have access. UWP apps and Windows Store apps have not been synonymous terms. But the important point here is Windows Cloud will be locked down so as to prevent users from installing apps that are not in the Windows 10 Store, which can be seen as a plus from a security and manageability standpoint, but a minus given the less-than-robust collection of UWP/Store apps available for Windows 10. Microsoft is believed to be planning to position Windows 10 Cloud, at least in part, as an alternative to Chrome OS and Chromebooks.
Bug

Cisco Patches 'Prime Home' Flaw That Allowed Hackers To Reach Into People's Homes (helpnetsecurity.com) 19

Orome1 quotes a report from Help Net Security: Cisco has patched a critical authentication bypass vulnerability that could allow attackers to completely take over Cisco Prime Home installations, and through them mess with subscribers' home network and devices. The vulnerability (CVE-2017-3791), found internally by Cisco security testers, affects the platform's web-based GUI, and can be exploited by remote attackers to bypass authentication and execute any action in Cisco Prime Home with administrator privileges. No user interaction is needed for the exploit to work, and exploitation couldn't be simpler: an attacker just needs to send API commands via HTTP to a particular URL. The bug exists in versions 6.4 and later of Cisco Prime Home, but does not affect versions 5.2 and earlier. "Administrators can verify whether they are running an affected version by opening the Prime Home URL in their browser and checking the Version: line in the login window. If currently logged in, the version information can be viewed in the bottom left of the Prime Home GUI footer, next to the Cisco Prime Home text," Cisco instructed in the security advisory.
Google

Google Vows To Build Leading Cloud For Enterprise Windows, Swiping at Microsoft's Core Business (geekwire.com) 31

Google is going after a core part of Microsoft's cloud business, aiming to expand Google Cloud Platform's appeal to big companies that run the classic combination of Microsoft's Windows Server and SQL Server. From a report: Google Cloud Platform today announced pre-configured images for Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise and Windows Server Core on Google Compute Engine. The rollout includes support for high-availability, disaster-recovery and remote-management features used by big companies It's the latest move by Google Cloud Platform to catch up to Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. The search giant's cloud initiatives are led by Google senior vice president Diane Greene, co-founder and former CEO of VMware, who joined Google as an executive in late 2015 to bolster its efforts to win over big businesses. Greene is also a board member of Google's parent company Alphabet.
Cloud

Tim Sweeney Dislikes Windows 10 Cloud Rumors, Calls OS 'Crush Steam Edition' (arstechnica.com) 183

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The rumor that Microsoft is building a version of Windows 10 that can only install apps from the Windows Store has drawn criticism before it's even official. Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney took to Twitter to attack the operating system. Although its real name is named Windows 10 Cloud, he's dubbing it "Windows 10 Crush Steam Edition." Sweeney is convinced that Microsoft wants to exercise total control over the Windows platform and destroy Valve's Steam. Last year, Sweeney attacked the Universal Windows Platform API. He claimed (incorrectly) that third-party stores such as Steam would be unable to sell and distribute UWP games, leaving them at a disadvantage relative to Microsoft's own store. He followed this statement with the claim that Microsoft would systematically modify Windows so as to make Steam work worse and worse, such that gamers grow tired of it and switch to the Windows Store. In his tweets, Sweeney recognizes that Microsoft wants to compete with Chrome OS. But he fails to understand what the company must do to actually offer that competition. He wrote that "it's great for Microsoft to compete with ChromeOS, but NOT BY LOCKING OUT COMPETING WINDOWS SOFTWARE STORES." This statement represents a failure to understand that "locking out competing Windows software stores" is, for this market, positively desirable. It's fundamental to preventing the hard-to-support free-for-all that a Windows system would otherwise represent. A later tweet does recognize the value of this lockdown, but Sweeney says that Windows 10's "great admin features to limit user software installs" should be used instead. This again suggests a misunderstanding of the target market: systems will be used with little to no supervision and with little to no administrative oversight. To compete against the Chromebook, Windows 10 Cloud needs to be locked down by default, and it must not offer any ready way to disable that lockdown. In his complaints, Sweeney also fails to consider what happens should the Chromebook threat go unaddressed: Chromebooks running Chrome OS will proliferate. These machines will not support third-party stores, they will not support Steam, and they will not support PC games at all. Sweeney may not want Microsoft to build this world, but even if Microsoft doesn't create it, Google already is doing so.
Businesses

Razer Buys Nextbit (betanews.com) 12

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: Today, startup Nextbit announced that it has been acquired by PC accessory maker Razer. True, it seems like an odd acquisition, but not any stranger than Razer buying THX. With that said, getting into the smartphone game seems like a very risky business, as more established companies -- such as HTC -- are struggling lately. Has Razer made a mistake? "I'm thrilled to announce that we're joining the Razer family! They're rebels like us, they speak from the heart, and they share our need to push boundaries. Nextbit will operate as an independent division inside Razer, focused on unique mobile design and experiences. To put it simply, we'll be doing exactly what we've been doing all along, only bigger and better," says Tom Moss, Co-Founder and CEO, Nextbit. Nexbit turned a lot of heads a couple of years ago when it released the Robin, "the first Android phone that makes running out of space history." The device's onboard storage is merged with the accompanied cloud storage, allowing Robin to seamlessly back up your apps and photos, archive the stuff you're not using and restore items when you need them. Unfortunately, you will no longer be able to purchase the Robin from Nextbit as the company has stopped selling the device and all accessories. Though, they "will continue to fulfill warranties for 6 more months" and "will continue to provide software updates and security patches through February 2018."
Facebook

Facebook's Parse Is Shutting Down Today (parse.com) 14

Facebook acquired Parse, a toolkit and support system for mobile developers, in 2013. At the time, the social network's ambitions were high: Parse would be Facebook's way into one day harnessing developers to become a true cloud business, competing alongside the likes of Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Three years later, Facebook announced it would be shutting down Parse. Today is that day. From Parse's status page: As we previously shared, the Parse service is shutting down today. Throughout the day we will be disabling the Parse API on an app-by-app basis. When your app is disabled, you will not be able to access the data browser or export any data, and your applications will no longer be able to access the Parse API.

Slashdot Top Deals