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Government

Guccifer 2.0 Calls DNC Hack His "Personal Project," Mocks Security Firms (computerworld.com) 16

An anonymous reader writes: The notorious hacker most recently in the news for releasing Clinton Foundation documents has said on Thursday in a blog post that the stolen confidential files from the DNC was his "personal project." Guccifer 2.0, as he identifies himself as, added that security firms and the DNC may be trying to blame the attack on Russia, but "they can prove nothing! All I hear is blah-blah-blah, unfounded theories, and somebody's estimates," he wrote. He claims to be Romanian and says he acted alone, pouring water on the theory that he may be a "smokescreen" to divert attention away from the real culprits, that may have been expert hacking teams based in Russia. "I'd like to reveal a secret to all those cool IT-specialists: All the hackers in the world use almost the same tools," he said. "You can buy them or simply find them on the web." He broke into the network using a little-known vulnerability found in the DNC's software, he added. "The DNC used Windows on their server, so it made my work much easier," he said. "I installed my trojan-like virus on their PCs. I just modified the platform that I bought on the hacking forums for about $1.5k." Guccifer 2.0 also disputed the idea that the DNC breach was an intelligence gathering operation for Russia, saying it was hacktivism.
Earth

'Healing' Detected In Antarctic Ozone Hole, Says Study (bbc.com) 33

kheldan quotes a report from BBC: Researchers say they have found the first clear evidence that the thinning in the ozone layer above Antarctica is starting to heal. The scientists said that in September 2015 the hole was around 4 million sq km smaller than it was in the year 2000 -- an area roughly the size of India. The gains have been credited to the long term phasing out of ozone-destroying chemicals. [The study also sheds new light on the role of volcanoes in making the problem worse.] The ozone-destroying chemicals, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), have been shown to be declining in their influence, causing the ozone layer to grow once more. "Even though we phased out the production of CFCs in all countries including India and China around the year 2000, there's still a lot of chlorine left in the atmosphere," Prof Solomon told the BBC World Service Science in Action program. "It has a lifetime of about 50-100 years, so it is starting to slowly decay and the ozone will slowly recover." Scientists also believe that volcanic sulphur can form tiny particles that act as seeds to Polar Stratospheric Clouds, where chlorine chemistry occurs that destroys the ozone.
Facebook

Facebook To Shred 'Paper' News-Reading App On July 29th (theverge.com) 16

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Facebook's Paper app for iOS is scheduled to shut down on July 29th. While the app impressed critics, it failed to impress the general public. The Verge reports: "The app transformed the core Facebook experience into a kind of newsreader, with customizable sections for politics, technology, food, and other subjects. When it was introduced in January 2014, Paper signaled the beginning of a design renaissance at Facebook. The look and feel of the app were orchestrated by Mike Matas, whose design firm Push Pop Press was acquired by Facebook in 2011. Paper was notable for the novel animations it used to guide you through the app -- tap on a link and it would unfold like a letter; pull down on the story and it would fold back up, returning you to the feed. But despite the enormous growth of Facebook, which surged to 1.09 billion daily users this year, Paper has not been among the 1,500 most-downloaded apps since December 2014, according to research firm App Annie. It never came to Android, and the iOS version was last updated in March 2015. Facebook says that ideas from Paper have made their way into other Facebook apps, most notably Instant Articles, the fast-loading story format that the company introduced last year. Instant Articles borrowed several design elements from Paper, including full-bleed images and custom designs for individual publishers' articles."
Music

Apple In Talks To Buy Jay Z-Owned Tidal Streaming Service (9to5mac.com) 26

An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is in talks to acquire the Jay Z owned streaming service, Tidal. 9to5Mac reports: "While specific details are unclear at this point, Apple acquiring Tidal would give it an incredible leg up when it comes to negotiating for exclusive streaming rights. Tidal is currently owned by Jay Z and a variety of other artists, including Kanye West, Beyonce, Chris Martin, Jack White, and many more. Negotiations between Apple and Jay Z are reportedly still early and 'may not result in a deal,' according to the report. Apple is interested in Tidal because of its strong ties to artists, many of which are owners. Tidal has secured the exclusive streaming rights to a handful of notable albums in recent months, including Beyonce's Lemonade and Kanye West's The Life of Pablo." Earlier this year, a report claimed that Samsung, Google and Spotify had all considered buying the streaming service.
Operating Systems

'UpgradeSubscription.exe' File In Preview Build Hints At Windows 10 Subscriptions (zdnet.com) 135

An anonymous reader writes: A file named "UpgradeSubscription.exe" is found buried in the System32 folder of Windows 10 build 14376, alongside 590 other .exe files. ZDNet reports the file has been part of other recent preview builds, but just recently uncovered. "In the file's properties, it's described as the Windows Upgrade to Subscription Tool, and its date and time stamp corresponds to other administrative tools in the same build," reports ZDNet. You can view the screenshot here. Microsoft responded to ZDNet saying: "The Windows Upgrade to Subscription tool, found in the latest Windows Insider builds, helps to manage certain volume licensing upgrades from Windows 10 Pro Anniversary Update to Windows 10 Enterprise. This binary file is not associated with the free consumer upgrade offering nor is it applicable to consumer Windows editions." When pressed for additional details, Microsoft responded with, "No further comment." While the file does nothing, it does appear to confirm that it's related to licensing, referencing a registry value called AllowWindowsSubscription. Build 14376 reveals a few references to servicing packages named Microsoft-Client-License-Platform-Upgrade-Subscription-Package. Last year, there was some talk about Windows 10 being the last version of Windows as Microsoft is pushing a "Windows as a service" vision. When news broke in April about Windows Phone's sharp revenue declines, PCWorld reported that CEO Satya Nadella's strategy is to grow Microsoft's revenues by convincing customers to adopt its paid subscription services.
Space

CBS/Paramount Sets Phasers To Kill On Star Trek Fan-Fiction With New Guidelines (audioholics.com) 124

Audiofan writes from a forum post on Audioholics: The Star Trek fan-fiction controversy that resulted in legal battles between CBS/Paramount and Axanar Productions concluded last week. However, CBS/Paramount have finally put forth its long-awaited guidelines intended to clarify acceptable fan-fiction so that it won't get the creative Star Trek fan sued for copyright infringement. But in doing so, it may have launched Star Trek fan-fiction's torpedo casket into space with a solemn salute. To be or not to be is the question which we ask about the future of Star Trek fan film. Some of the new guidelines for avoiding objections when making your own Star Trek movies and posting them to YouTube include: The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes. Part of the non-commercial requirements include: CBS and Paramount Pictures do not object to limited fundraising for the creation of a fan production, whether 1 or 2 segments and consistent with these guidelines, so long as the total amount does not exceed $50,000, including all platform fees, and when the $50,000 goal is reached, all fundraising must cease. The fan production cannot be distributed in a physical format such as DVD or Blu-ray. If the fan production uses commercially-available Star Trek uniforms, accessories, toys and props, these items must be official merchandise and not bootleg items or imitations of such commercially available products.
Businesses

US Regulators Investigating Tesla Over Use of 'Autopilot' Mode Linked To Fatal Crash (cnbc.com) 138

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Thursday it is opening a preliminary investigation into 25,000 Tesla Motors Model S cars after a fatal crash involving a vehicle using the "Autopilot" mode. The agency said the crash came in a 2015 Model S operating with automated driving systems engaged, and "calls for an examination of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash." It is the first step before the agency could seek to order a recall if it believed the vehicles were unsafe. Tesla said Thursday the death was "the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated," while a fatality happens once every 60 million miles worldwide. The electric automaker said it "informed NHTSA about the incident immediately after it occurred." The May crash occurred when a tractor trailer drove across a divided highway, where a Tesla in autopilot mode was driving. The Model S passed under the tractor trailer, and the bottom of the trailer hit the Tesla vehicle's windshield. Tesla quietly settled a lawsuit with a Model X owner who claims his car's doors would open and close unpredictably, smashing into his wife and other cars, and that the Model X's Auto-Pilot feature poses a danger in the rain.
Communications

Netherlands Gets First Nationwide 'Internet of Things' (phys.org) 52

An anonymous reader writes: The Netherlands has become the first country in the world to implement a nationwide long-range (LoRa) network for the Internet of Things, says Dutch telecoms group KPN on Thursday. "As from today the KPN LoRa network is available throughout The Netherlands," KPN said in a statement. Phys.Org reports: "The rollout of a low data rate (LoRa) mobile communications network is critical to connect objects as many may not be able to link up with home or work Wi-Fi networks to gain Internet access. The LoRa network is complementary to KPN's networks for the 2G, 3G and 4G phones. KPN has already reached deals to connect some 1.5 million objects, a number which should steadily grow now that the LoRa network is available across the country. Tests are being carried out at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam -- one of Europe's busiest air hubs -- for baggage handling. Meanwhile in the Utrecht rail station an experiment is under way to allow LoRa to monitor rail switches."
Media

Ask Slashdot: What's Your Preferred Media Streaming Device? 172

New submitter bkr1_2k writes: Way back when, I had a PC dedicated as a media server using MythTV. That died and I didn't bother building a new one. Consumer electronics caught up and I recently bought an Apple TV (3rd Generation) to use for streaming my media library. I am, unsurprisingly, finding flaws with it. I'm looking for alternative devices that allow me to stream from my media server directly, without the need for a middleman app like iTunes for the Apple TV. I don't need a ton of streaming services (we have Netflix and Amazon Prime but don't use anything else). I primarily want to use this for streaming my own music and movie libraries over my home network, preferably with a user interface that lets me browse those in a fashion that doesn't force me to scroll through my whole library to get to the title that starts with the letter "Z" (A very poor design choice in the Apple TV). Nor do I want any voice controls since they all suck, in my experience. I would prefer an 'open' device that I can update at will with add-ons, but it's not a requirement. What are the current options out there? Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast. Anything else that might fit my needs better? Last week, we asked a similar question: "What's your preferred music streaming service?"
Android

Dell Stops Selling Android Tablets (pcworld.com) 65

Dell is discontinuing its Venue line of Android tablets. Furthermore, the company says it will also stop issuing software updates to its existing Android tablets. The move comes as Dell wants to shift its focus on Windows 2-in-1 devices. As for the other reason, the American company adds that Android market is "oversaturated" and is experiencing "declining demand from consumers." Other Android devices from the company were discontinued some time ago. The company will honor after sales support for people who have purchased Venue Android tablets until the warranty and service contracts expire.
Democrats

Elizabeth Warren Says Apple, Amazon and Google Are Trying To 'Lock Out' Competition (recode.net) 212

Elizabeth Warren, an American academic and member of the Democratic Party, believes that Google, Apple, and Amazon are trying to use their size to "snuff out competition." In a speech about the perils of "consolidation and concentration" throughout the economy, the Massachusetts senator singled out the three of tech's biggest players. From a report:Warren had different beefs with Google, Apple and Amazon, but the common thread was that she accused each one of using its powerful platform to "lock out smaller guys and newer guys," including some that compete with Google, Apple and Amazon. Google, she said, uses "its dominant search engine to harm rivals of its Google Plus user review feature;" Apple "has placed conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer competitive streaming services" that compete with Apple Music; and Amazon "uses its position as the dominant bookseller to steer consumers to books published by Amazon to the detriment of other publishers.""Google, Apple and Amazon have created disruptive technologies that changed the world, and ... they deserve to be highly profitable and successful," Warren said. "But the opportunity to compete must remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again."
Intel

BMW, Intel, Mobileye Partner On Self-Driving Cars, 'Turning Point For Automotive Industry': Reports (bloomberg.com) 52

BMW, Intel, and Mobileye NV are working to develop autonomous-car technology, reports Bloomberg, citing multiple sources. Senior executives from each company will hold an event on Friday to discuss the driverless-vehicle initiative, the report adds. From the article:Jerusalem-based Mobileye has been an early leader in providing cameras, software and other components that allow vehicles to see the world around them. BMW has been a client of Mobileye, along with General Motors Co. and Tesla Motors Inc. As automakers and their suppliers race to create systems to replace human drivers, most companies are betting on some form of artificial intelligence, which requires powerful processing.Reuters, citing one source, reports the same thing. The announcement will be a "turning point for the automotive industry," Amnon Shashua, the chairman and co-founder of Mobileye.
Chrome

Google Is Adding a VR Shell To Chrome To Let You Browse the Entire Web In VR (roadtovr.com) 56

An anonymous reader writes: While it's possible to create and view specially built virtual reality 'WebVR' websites through today's browsers, traversing the web in VR means taking your VR headset on and off as you come across VR websites and non-VR websites. Google is working to fix this by adding a 'VR Shell' to the Chrome browser that will render non-VR websites in a virtual environment, and allow seamless transitioning from them to WebVR sites. Recent developer builds of Chrome on Android reveal both the WebVR API and VR Shell directly integrated into the browser. The company is also working on adding support for headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive on desktop.
Android

Google Reveals What N In Android N Stands For -- Nougat 100

We finally know what N in Android N stands for: Nougat. Google made the announcement on Thursday. The Android maker always names smartphone operating system updates after candies and other sweet treats. The past few versions, for instances, are named Marshmallow, Eclair, Lollipop, and Marshmallow. Naming aside, Android N brings with it a range of interesting features such as multi-window support, better battery efficiency, and the ability to reply to messages straight from the notification. Enthusiasts who own a Nexus 6 or a newer Nexus device, can give a whirl to the preview of Android N on their device. The final version of Android N will be made available later this year.
Facebook

Hacker Takes Over Oculus CEO's Twitter Account, Announces New CEO (techcrunch.com) 27

Another day, another high-profile becoming victim of a hack attack. Somebody managed to find a way into Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe's Twitter account late Wednesday. The hacker, who appears to be a user who goes by the alias "lid" on Twitter changed Iribe's bio and cover photo, and made a couple of interesting "announcements" -- including him becoming the new CEO of Facebook-owned virtual reality company. TechCrunch reports:This is just the latest in a string of tech CEO's having their Twitter accounts compromised, this attack does not appear to be from the same hacker group responsible for the hacks on the accounts of Travis Kalanick, Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg and Dick Costolo. Late Wednesday night, Iribe's Twitter bio temporarily read, "hey its @Lid ... im not testing ya security im just havin a laugh." The hacker told me in a Twitter DM that he accessed the password via last month's MySpace breach, he also said that he also would've managed to access Iribe's email account had he not had two-factor authentication enabled.
Google

Spanish Authorities Raid Google Offices Over Tax (reuters.com) 123

An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report:Spanish officials raided Google's Madrid offices on Thursday in a probe related to its payment of taxes, a person familiar with the matter said, barely a month after the internet company had its headquarters in France searched on suspicion of tax evasion. A spokeswoman for Google said in a brief statement the company complied with fiscal legislation in Spain just as it did in all countries where it operated. The company was working with authorities to answer all questions, the spokeswoman added. Google is under pressure across Europe from politicians and the public upset at how multinationals exploit their presence around the world to minimize their tax bills.
Encryption

US Efforts To Regulate Encryption Have Been Flawed, Government Report Finds (theguardian.com) 97

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Guardian: U.S. Republican congressional staff said in a report released Wednesday that previous efforts to regulate privacy technology were flawed and that lawmakers need to learn more about technology before trying to regulate it. The 25-page white paper is entitled Going Dark, Going Forward: A Primer on the Encryption Debate and it does not provide any solution to the encryption fight. However, it is notable for its criticism of other lawmakers who have tried to legislate their way out of the encryption debate. It also sets a new starting point for Congress as it mulls whether to legislate on encryption during the Clinton or Trump administration. "Lawmakers need to develop a far deeper understanding of this complex issue before they attempt a legislative fix," the committee staff wrote in their report. The committee calls for more dialogue on the topic and for more interviews with experts, even though they claim to have already held more than 100 such briefings, some of which are classified. The report says in the first line that public interest in encryption has surged once it was revealed that terrorists behind the Paris and San Bernardino attacks "used encrypted communications to evade detection." Congressman Ted Lieu is pushing the federal government to treat ransomware attacks on medical facilities as data breaches and require notifications of patients.
Government

Congressman Wants Ransomware Attacks To Trigger Breach Notifications (onthewire.io) 69

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: A powerful California congressman is pushing the federal government to treat ransomware attacks on medical facilities as data breaches and require notifications of patients. The pressure is coming from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and follows comments from officials at the Department of Health and Human Services about the department's plan to issue guidance to health care organizations about ransomware attacks. The Office for Civil Rights section of HHS, which has responsibility for health information privacy, will provide guidance on how to handle ransomware attacks, and Lieu is eager to ensure that the guidance specifically addresses how ransomware attacks relate to data breach regulations. "I welcome the news of HHS providing guidance to health providers on a matter that threatens so many hospital IT systems. However, we need to make clear that ransomware is not the same as conventional breaches. The threat to patients from ransomware is typically due to the denial of access to their medical records and medical services. Not only could this be a threat to privacy, but it could result in medical complications and deaths if hospitals can't access patient information," Lieu said in a statement. He sent a letter to the deputy director for health information privacy in the Office of Civil Rights at HHS, Deven McGraw, asking him to instruct health organizations and providers to notify patients of an attack if it results in a denial of access to a medical record or a loss of functionality thats necessary to provide patient care. In the past, Lieu has called for a full congressional investigation into the aforementioned widespread flaw in global phone networks that allows hackers to track anyone's location and spy on their phone calls and text messages. He was also one of the first lawmakers to publicly express his pro-encryption view after a federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI break into the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, saying it effectively "forces private-sector companies like Apple to be used as an arm of law enforcement."
Databases

2 Million-Person Terror Database Leaked Online (thestack.com) 158

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Stack: A 2014 version of the World-Check database containing more than 2.2 million records of people with suspected terrorist, organized crime, and corruption links has been leaked online. The World-Check database is administered by Thomson-Reuters and is used by 4,500 institutions, 49 of the world's 50 largest banks and by over 300 government and intelligence agencies. The unregulated database is intended for use as "an early warning system for hidden risk" and combines records from hundreds of terror and crime suspects and watch-lists into a searchable resource. Most of the individuals in the database are unlikely to know that they are included, even though it may have a negative impact on their ability to use banking services and operate a business. A Reddit user named Chris Vickery says he obtained a copy of the database, saying he won't reveal how until "a later time." To access the database, customers must pay an annual subscription charge, that can reach up to $1 million, according to Vice, with potential subscribers then vetted before approval. Vickery says he understands that the "original location of the leak is still exposed to the public internet" and that "Thomas Reuters is working feverishly to get it secured." He told The Register that he alerted the company to the leak, but is still considering whether to publish the information contained in it.
Earth

Scientists Say The Asteroid That Killed The Dinosaurs Almost Wiped Us Out Too (theweek.com) 227

HughPickens.com writes: Conventional wisdom states that mammalian diversity emerged from the ashes of the Cretaceous/Tertiary mass extinction event, ultimately giving rise to our own humble species. But Joshua A. Krisch writes at This Week that the asteroid that decimated the dinosaurs also wiped out roughly 93 percent of all mammalian species. "Because mammals did so well after the extinction, we have tended to assume that it didn't hit them as hard," says Nick Longrich. "However our analysis shows that the mammals were hit harder than most groups of animals, such as lizards, turtles, crocodilians, but they proved to be far more adaptable in the aftermath." Mammals survived, multiplied, and ultimately gave rise to human beings. So what was the great secret that our possum-like ancestors knew that dinosaurs did not? One answer is that early mammals were small enough to survive on insects and dying plants, while large dinosaurs and reptiles required a vast diet of leafy greens and healthy prey that simply weren't available in the lean years, post-impact. So brontosauruses starved to death while prehistoric possums filled their far smaller and less discerning bellies. "Even if large herbivorous dinosaurs had managed to survive the initial meteor strike, they would have had nothing to eat," says Russ Graham, "because most of the earth's above-ground plant material had been destroyed." Other studies have suggested that mammals survived by burrowing underground or living near the water, where they would have been somewhat shielded from the intense heatwaves, post-impact. Studies also suggest that mammals may have been better spread-out around the globe, and so had the freedom to recover independently and evolve with greater diversity. "After this extinction event, there was an explosion of diversity, and it was driven by having different evolutionary experiments going on simultaneously in different locations," Longrich says. "This may have helped drive the recovery. With so many different species evolving in different directions in different parts of the world, evolution was more likely to stumble across new evolutionary paths."

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