Censorship

FBI Gripes "We Can't Read Everyone's Secrets" (reuters.com) 85

New submitter rdukb writes: FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that investigators still can't access the phone contents of one of the San Bernadino killers. He went on to argue that the phenomenon of communications "going dark" due to more sophisticated technology and wider use of encryption is "overwhelmingly affecting" law enforcement operations, including, not only the San Bernadino murders, but also investigations into other murders, car accidents, drug trafficking and the proliferation of child pornography. This might increase pressure on Apple to loosen the backdoor restrictions. Will the industry relent and allow Government access to data from these devices?
Bug

The Internet of Broken Things (hackaday.com) 77

szczys writes: The Internet of Things is all the hype these days. On one side we have companies clamoring to sell you Internet-Connected-everything to replace all of the stuff you already have that is now considered "dumb." On the other side are security researchers screaming that we're installing remote access with little thought about securing it properly. The truth is a little of both is happening, and that this isn't a new thing. It's been around for years in industry, the new part is that it's much wider spread and much closer to your life. Al Williams walks through some real examples of the unintended consequences of IoT, including his experiences building and deploying devices, and some recent IoT gaffs like the NEST firmware upgrade that had some users waking up to an icy-cold home.
Space

SpaceX Sets Feb. 24th Target Date For Next Launch 42

Rei writes: After some consternation about the pacing of Falcon 9 upgrades, SpaceX has announced that it plans to launch again from Cape Canaveral with a target date of February 24th. While the primary mission will be to place the SES-9 communications satellite in orbit, this will also mark their fourth attempt to land the first stage on an autonomous drone ship, after their last launch touched down softly but fell over when one leg failed to latch. SpaceX is working to significantly accelerate the rate of production and launches — they are reportedly moving the factory from 6-8 cores produced per year to 18 at present, and expect to reach 30 by the end of the year. After the upcoming launch, they expect to launch one rocket every two to three weeks.
Technology

World's Smallest Optical Switch Uses a Single Atom (gizmag.com) 38

Zothecula writes: The rapid and on-going development of micro-miniature optical electronic devices is helping to usher in a new era of photonic computers and light-based memories that promise super-fast processor speeds and ultra-secure communications. However, as these components are shrunk ever further, fundamental limits to their dimensions are dictated by the wavelength of light itself. Now researchers at ETH Zurich claim to have overcome this limitation by creating both the world's smallest optical switch using a single atom, and accompanying circuitry that appears to break the rules by being smaller than the wavelength of the light that passes through it.
Twitter

Twitter Tackles Terrorists In Targeted Takedown (betanews.com) 100

Mark Wilson writes: Having previously battled trolls, Twitter has now turned its attention to terrorists and their supporters. The site has closed down more than 125,000 accounts associated with terrorism since the middle of 2015, it announced in a statement. Although a full breakdown of figures is not provided, Twitter says most of these accounts were related to ISIS. Having increased the size of its account review team, the site has reduced the time it takes to investigate accounts that are reported, and has also started to investigate 'accounts similar to those reported'.
Verizon

Verizon's Mobile Video Won't Count Against Data Caps -- but Netflix Will (arstechnica.com) 106

Earthquake Retrofit writes: Ars Technica has a story about how Verizon Wireless is testing the limits of the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules; Verizon has announced that it will exempt its own video service from mobile data caps—while counting data from competitors such as YouTube and Netflix against customers' caps.
Communications

A Bot That Drives Robocallers Insane 251

Trailrunner7 writes: Robocalls are among the more annoying modern inventions, and consumers and businesses have tried just about every strategy for defeating them over the years, with little success. But one man has come up with a bot of his own that sends robocallers into a maddening hall of mirrors designed to frustrate them into surrender. The bot is called the Jolly Roger Telephone Company, and it's the work of Roger Anderson, a veteran of the phone industry himself who had grown tired of the repeated harassment from telemarketers and robocallers. Anderson started out by building a system that sat in front of his home landlines and would tell human callers to press a key to ring through to his actual phone line; robocallers were routed directly to an answering system. He would then white-list the numbers of humans who got through. Sometimes the Jolly Roger bot will press buttons to be transferred to a human agent and other times it will just talk back if a human is on the other end of the line to begin with.
Communications

Grandma's Phone, DSL, and the Copper They Share (hackaday.com) 177

szczys writes: DSL is high-speed Internet that uses the same twisted pair of copper wire that still works with your Grandmother's wall-mounted telephone. How is that possible? The short answer is that the telephone company is cheating. But the long answer delves into the work of Claude Shannon, who figured out how much data could be reliably transferred using a given medium. His work, combined with that of Harry Nyquist and Ralph Hartley (pioneers of channel capacity and the role noise plays in these systems), brings the Internet Age to many homes on an infrastructure that has been in use for more than a hundred years.
Government

UK Wants Authority To Serve Warrants In U.S. (usatoday.com) 143

schwit1 writes with this news, as reported by USA Today: British and U.S. officials have been negotiating a plan that could allow British authorities to directly serve wiretap orders on U.S. communications companies in criminal and national security inquiries, U.S. officials confirmed Thursday. The talks are aimed at allowing British authorities access to a range of data, from interceptions of live communications to archived emails involving British suspects, according to the officials, who are not authorized to comment publicly. ... Under the proposed plan, British authorities would not have access to records of U.S. citizens if they emerged in the British investigations. Congressional approval would be required of any deal negotiated by the two countries.
Facebook

Facebook Celebrates Turning 12 Today (cnbc.com) 153

12 years ago today, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, and since then the site has grown at a nearly unbelievable pace. Now, with about 1.6 billion monthly active users, Facebook makes an average of $3.73 in revenue per user worldwide. And as the company continues to grow, engagement is only getting higher. According to an analysis by CNBC, users spend an aggregate of 10.5 billion minutes per day on the social media platform -- that's around $3.5 trillion in squandered productivity, by their estimate. Facebook is celebrating its birthday by marking today "Friends Day" and adding personalized videos to each user's account showing their best moments with friends, or at least what Facebook's algorithms think are the best moments. (Users can opt to share the video or keep it private.) The company's also announced an updated degrees-of-separation metric to make it easier to connect with other users.
Businesses

Senators Blast Comcast, Other Cable Firms For "Unfair Billing Practices" (arstechnica.com) 176

An anonymous reader writes: Six Democratic US senators [Wednesday] criticized Comcast and other TV and broadband providers for charging erroneous fees, such as cable modem rental fees billed to customers who bought their own modems. The senators have written a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler asking the commission to 'stop unfair billing practices.'.....Last year, more than 30 percent of complaints to the FCC about Internet service and 38 percent of complaints about TV service were about billing...
Communications

Receiving Real-Time Imagery From Russia's Meteor-M N2 Satellite 26

An anonymous reader writes: The Meteor-M N2 is a low orbit Russian weather satellite which broadcasts live weather satellite images, similar to the APT images produced by the NOAA satellites. But Meteor digital images are however much better as they are transmitted as a digital signal with an image resolution 12x greater than the aging analog NOAA APT signals. Radio enthusiasts are receiving images with hacked cheap digital TV dongles. There is even the AMIGOS project which stands for Amateur Meteor Images Global Observation System: users around the world can contribute Meteor images through the internet to create worldwide real-time coverage.
Communications

Harvard: No, Crypto Isn't Making the FBI Go Dark 59

Trailrunner7 writes: The FBI and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have warned for years that the increased use of encryption by consumers is making surveillance and lawful interception much more difficult, impeding investigations. But a new study by a group of experts at Harvard's Berkman Center says those claims are largely overblown and that the IoT revolution will give agencies plenty of new chances for clear-channel surveillance.

"We argue that communications in the future will neither be eclipsed into darkness nor illuminated without shadow. Market forces and commercial interests will likely limit the circumstances in which companies will offer encryption that obscures user data from the companies themselves, and the trajectory of technological development points to a future abundant in unencrypted data, some of which can fill gaps left by the very communication channels law enforcement fears will 'go dark' and beyond reach," the Berkman Center report says.
Transportation

Jaguar Land Rover To Test Autonomous Cars In 'Living Lab' (thestack.com) 24

An anonymous reader writes: British automaker Jaguar Land Rover has announced its £5.5 million investment in a 'living lab' for the testing and development of connected and self-driving car technologies. The UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment (CITE) will span 41-miles of public roads around Coventry and Solihull, and will be used to test new connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) systems in real-life conditions. The company is planning to install roadside sensor equipment around the lab route to monitor vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. The fleet will include 100 CAV cars, which will test four different connectivity technologies; 4G long-term evolution (LTE) and its more advanced version LTE-V, dedicated short-range communication (DSRC), and local Wi-Fi hotspots.
Communications

After More Than a Decade, MSN Chat Authentication Is Documented (goo.gl) 27

An anonymous reader writes: After MSN Chat closed in 2003, and then again in 2006, some guy has finally documented the authentication system used — over a decade later! Developer Joshua Davison writes by way of explanation: I think it's important to document the challenge we (users, scripters, hackers) faced connecting to MSN Chat, which is the only known 'proper' implementation of IRCX v8.1 at this time. MSN Chat introduced a GateKeeper SASL authentication protocol, which implemented 'GateKeeper' and 'GateKeeperPassport' (not dissimilar to the widely documented NTLM authentication protocol, which was also implemented as NTLM, and NTMLPassport) The GateKeeper Security Support Provider (GKSSP) functioned in two ways; allowing a user to login with a Microsoft Account (Previously known as Microsoft Passport, .NET Passport, Microsoft Passport Network, and Windows Live ID), and also allowed guest authentication for users without, or not willing to use a Microsoft Account. While most users didn't need or want to understand how the protocol worked, there were many of us who did, and many that just preferred to use MSN Chat outside of the browser.
Communications

Big Satellite Systems, Simulated On Your Desktop (sf.net) 44

An anonymous reader writes: Big systems of hundreds of satellites are under development to provide wireless Internet globally, with Richard Branson's OneWeb and Thales' LeoSat aiming at consumers and business markets respectively. It's like reliving the late 1990s, when Bill Gates' Teledesic and Motorola's Celestri were trying to do the same thing before merging their efforts and then giving up. And now you can simulate OneWeb and LeoSat for yourself, and compare them to older systems, in the new release of the vintage SaVi satellite simulation package, which was created in the 1990s during the first time around. Bear in mind Karl Marx's dictum of history: the first time is tragedy, and the second time is farce. Do these new systems stand a chance?
Communications

U.S. Forces Viewed Encrypted Israeli Drone Feeds (theintercept.com) 49

iceco2 links to The Intercept's report that the U.S. and UK intelligence forces have been (or at least were) intercepting positional data as well as imagery from Israeli drones and fighters, through a joint program dubbed "Anarchist," based on the island of Cyprus. Among the captured images that the Intercept has published, based on data provided by Edward Snowden, are ones that appear to show weaponized drones, something that the U.S. military is well-known for using, but that the IDF does not publicly acknowledge as part of its own arsenal. Notes iceco2: U.S. spying on allies is nothing new. It is surprising to see the ease with which encrypted Israeli communications were intercepted. As always, it wasn't the crypto which was broken -- just the lousy method it was applied. Ars Technica explains that open-source software, including ImageMagick was central to the analysis of the captured data.
Facebook

Facebook Expands Online Commerce Role, But Says "No Guns, Please" 190

The New York Times reports that Facebook's newly staked-out role as a site to facilitate local, person-to-person sales (ala Craigslist) has a new wrinkle: the site has announced a site-wide policy restricting firearms sales that applies to personal sales, though not to licensed dealers or gun clubs. According to the story, Although Facebook was not directly involved in gun sales, it has served as a forum for gun sales to be negotiated, without people having to undergo background checks. The social network, with 1.6 billion monthly visitors, had become one of the worldâ(TM)s largest marketplaces for guns and was increasingly evolving into an e-commerce site where it could facilitate transactions of goods. ... Facebook said it would rely on its vast network of users to report any violations of the new rules, and would remove any post that violated the policy. Beyond that, the company said it could ban users or severely limit the ways they post on Facebook, depending on the type and severity of past violations. If the company believed someoneâ(TM)s life was in danger, Facebook would work with law enforcement on the situation. The policy applies as well to private sales that occur using Facebook Messenger, though the company does not scan Messenger exchanges and must rely on user reports.
Government

Cable Lobby Steams Up Over FCC Set-Top Box Competition Plan (arstechnica.com) 167

An anonymous reader writes: Cable TV industry lobby groups expressed their displeasure with a Federal Communications Commission plan to bring competition to the set-top box market, which could help consumers watch TV on different devices and thus avoid paying cable box rental fees.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new rules that would force pay-TV companies to give third parties access to TV content, letting hardware makers build better set-top boxes. Customers would be able to watch all the TV channels they're already paying cable companies for, but on a device that they don't have to rent from them. The rules could also bring TV to tablets and other devices without need for a rented set-top box. The system would essentially replace CableCard with a software-based equivalent.

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