Security

President Obama Unveils $19 Billion Plan To Overhaul U.S. Cybersecurity 170

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." 470

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) 211

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) 69

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) 130

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) 405

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) 92

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.
Government

MIT Inches Closer To ARC Reactor Despite Losing Federal Funding (computerworld.com) 182

Lucas123 writes: Experimenting with a fusion device over the past 20 years has edged MIT researchers to their final goal, creating a small and relatively inexpensive ARC reactor, three of which would produce enough energy to power a city the size of Boston. The lessons already learned from MIT's even current Alcator C-Mod fusion device — with a plasma radius of just 0.68 meters — have enabled researchers to publish a paper on a prototype ARC that would be the world's smallest fusion reactor but with the greatest magnetic force and energy output for its size. The ARC would require 50MW to run while putting out about 200MW of electricity to the grid. Key to MIT's ARC reactor would be the use of a "high-temperature" rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tape for its magnetic coils, which only need to be cooled to 100 Kelvin, which enables the use of abundant liquid nitrogen as a cooling agent. Other fusion reactors' superconducting coils must be cooled to 4 degrees Kelvin. While there remain hurdles to overcome, such as sustaining the fusion reaction long enough to achieve a net power return, building the ARC would only take 4 to 5 years and cost about $5 billion, compared to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world's largest tokamak fusion reactor due to go online and begin producing energy in 2027.
Businesses

Elon Musk Cancels Stewart Alsop's Tesla Order Over Complaints About Launch Event 339

New submitter umafuckit writes: Blogger Stewart Alsop wrote an open letter to Elon Musk following a supposedly badly run launch event for the Model X. Alsop complained that the event started almost 2 hours late and was unable to test drive the car (for which has put down a deposit). In response, Musk cancelled Alsop's pre-order saying "Must be a slow news day if denying service to a super rude customer gets this much attention." Alsop, who is known not just for his prolific blogging but for his role as a founding partner at VC firm Alsop Louie Partners, compares his treatment by Tesla to that of BMW, about which he's also said some unflattering things as a customer.
China

Duplicate Login Details Enabled Hack of More Than 20 Million Chinese Consumers (thestack.com) 14

An anonymous reader writes: According to various Chinese sources including Techweb (Chinese language), police in Zhejiang held a conference on Monday announcing that 20.59 million users of the 'Chinese eBay', taobao.com, had their login details stolen by proxy, when hackers ran user/pass combos from a stolen database of 99 million other users and found that more than 20% were using the same login credentials across different ecommerce sites.
Yahoo!

Yahoo To Fire Another 15% As Mayer Attempts To Hang On (theguardian.com) 217

New submitter xxxJonBoyxxx writes: Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer has announced plans to cut the company's workforce by 15% and close five foreign offices by the end of 2016 after announcing a $4.4bn loss. Yahoo shares have fallen 33% over the past year, including a 17% drop in the last three months. Its shares fell again in after-hours trading after Mayer announced her plan. Yahoo expects its workforce to be down to 9,000 and have fewer than 1,000 contractors by end of 2016. About a third of Yahoo's workforce has left either voluntarily or involuntarily over the last year. And the cuts may just be starting: one activist investor (SpringOwl) says the total number of employees should be closer to 3,000 for a company with its revenue.
Businesses

How Uber Profits Even When Its Drivers Aren't Earning Money (vice.com) 180

tedlistens writes: Jay Cassano spoke to Uber drivers about "dead miles" and what work means when your boss is an algorithm, and considers a new frontier of labor concerns and big data. "Uber is the closest thing to an employer we've ever seen in this industry," Bhairavi Desai, founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, told him. "They not only direct every aspect of a driver's workday, they also profit off the entire day through data collection, not just the 'sale of a product.'"

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