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Updated: 32 weeks 4 days ago

Ransomware Completely Shuts Down Ohio Town Government

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 17:05
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: In another interesting example of what happens when you don't manage your backups correctly, the Licking County government offices, including the police force, have been shut down by ransomware. Although details are sparse, it's clear that someone in the office caught a bug in a phishing scam or by downloading it and now their servers are locked up. Wrote Kent Mallett of the Newark Advocate: "The virus, accompanied by a financial demand, is labeled ransomware, which has hit several local governments in Ohio and was the subject of a warning from the state auditor last summer. All county offices remain open, but online access and landline telephones are not available for those on the county system. The shutdown is expected to continue at least the rest of the week." The county government offices, including 911 dispatch, currently must work without computers or office phones. "The public can still call 911 for emergency police, fire or medical response," wrote Mallett.

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Cisco Patches 'Prime Home' Flaw That Allowed Hackers To Reach Into People's Homes

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 16:20
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.

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Hackers Take Over Unsecured Radio Transmitters, Play Anti-Trump Song

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 15:40
Ars Technica is reporting that "a certain model of Low Power FM radio transmitter with known vulnerabilities has been targeted in a new wave of radio-station hacks this week." Hackers have taken advantage of an exploit that was known all the way back in April 2016 to take over terrestrial radio stations and broadcast the YG and Nipsey Hussle song "Fuck Donald Trump." From the report: News of the song's unexpected playback on radio stations began emerging shortly after Trump's inauguration on January 20, and the hack has continued to affect LPFM stations -- a type of smaller-radius radio station that began to roll out after the FCC approved the designation in 2000. Over a dozen stations experienced confirmed hacks in recent weeks, with more unconfirmed reports trickling in across the nation. Thus far, the stations' commonality isn't the states of operation or music formats; it's the transmitter. Specifically, hackers have targeted products in the Barix Exstreamer line, which can decode many audio file formats and send them along for LPFM transmission. As Barix told its products' owners in 2016, Exstreamer devices openly connected to the Internet are incredibly vulnerable to having their remote login passwords discovered and systems compromised. The company recommends using full, 24-character passwords and placing any live Internet connections behind firewalls or VPNs. Reports have yet to connect any dots on why the exploit has apparently focused on the YG and Nipsey Hussle song -- though it is fairly popular, having recently finished in the Top 15 of the Village Voice's 2016 Pazz and Jop music critics' poll. Plus, the uncensored lyrics and topical nature are certainly more likely to catch people's attention, especially when played on stations with formats like oldies, classic rock, and Tejano.

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Snapchat Files For a $3 Billion IPO

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 15:20
Snapchat has filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange today, picking the ticker symbol "SNAP." The company hopes to raise $3 billion and says it has 158 million daily active users. The IPO would reportedly value the company above $20 billion. The Verge reports: The filing comes at an exciting but challenging time for Snap. The company -- originally named Snapchat -- has declared its intentions to become -- a camera company -- rather than just an app developer. And it's already found some success with Spectacles, its fun pair of video-recording sunglasses. The company says its advertising business is growing quickly. It reported $58.7 million in revenue for 2015, and grew that to $404.5 million in 2016. Along with that strong revenue growth, however, its losses also swelled. Snapchat lost $372.9 million in 2015 and $514.6 million this past year, more than its total revenue. Twitter was also struggling to generate a profit when it went public, while Facebook was not. Here's a gem from the S-1 filing. "We have incurred operating losses in the past, expect to incur operating losses in the future, and may never achieve or maintain profitability." Sounds like a great investment!

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Reddit Bans Far-Right Groups Altright and Alternativeright

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Social media site Reddit has banned two of the largest far-right "subreddits" groups it hosts, altright and alternativeright. The subreddits have been used in the organization of America's resurgent neofascist movement but the final straw for Reddit was the two groups' participation in what is known as "doxing": sharing private personal information without permission as a form of online harassment. The subreddits were specifically banned for breaking Reddit's content policy, according to a message posted by the site admins, "specifically, the proliferation of personal and confidential information." Reddit did not make it explicit which content infringed its rules, but it is believed to be attempts to dox the protestor who punched a white nationalist during a TV interview at Donald Trump's inauguration. Speaking to the Daily Beast, one Reddit moderator claimed that the ban was instead a result of its "record monthly traffic" (Reddit moderators, like the creators of individual subreddits, are all volunteers with no official relationship to the site's staff). "It's clear that Reddit banned us because we were becoming very popular and spreading inconvenient truths about who's ruining our country and robbing our children of a future," the moderator said.

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Firefox Fail: Layoffs Kill Mozilla's Push Beyond the Browser

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 13:00
So much for Mozilla's quest to bring Firefox to new and different places. From a report on CNET: The nonprofit organization told employees Thursday that it is eliminating the team tasked with bringing Firefox to connected devices. The cuts affect about 50 people. Ari Jaaksi, the senior vice president in charge of the effort, is leaving, and Bertrand Neveux, director of the group's software, has told coworkers he will depart too. Mozilla had about 1,000 employees at the end of 2016. The layoffs greatly curtail the nonprofit organization's ability to make Firefox relevant again. Once a dominant choice for internet browsing, it has long been overshadowed by Google's Chrome. Mozilla tried to take the web technology powering Firefox to other devices, but struggled to get acceptance. Its shrinking influence comes at a time when more people are browsing the internet on their phones -- an area where Firefox is particularly weak.

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Microsoft Seeks Trump Order Exemption for Workers With Visas

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 12:23
Microsoft is asking U.S. officials to grant exceptions for law-abiding, visa-holding workers and students from President Donald Trump's immigration order, channeling the outrage expressed by many in the technology industry with a proposed solution. From a report: Such individuals are low-risk -- having already undergone a rigorous vetting process -- and face immediate hardship as a result of last week's order, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a letter Thursday to the secretaries of State and Homeland Security. Smith said he believes the two officials are empowered to take the necessary steps to allow certain people entry into the country. The exemptions sought would cover workers with visas sponsored by U.S.-based companies and students with ones obtained via a U.S.-based school.

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Film Industry's Latest Search Engine Draws Traffic With 'Pirate' Keywords'

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 11:00
A new search engine launched by the Dutch film industry is targeting 'pirates' specifically, reports TorrentFreak. Every movie or TV-show page lists legal viewing options but also includes pirate keywords and descriptions, presumably to draw search traffic. "Don't Wrestle With Nasty Torrents. Ignore the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story torrent," the site advises. From a report: Like other "legal" search engines, the site returns a number of options where people can watch the movies or TV-shows they search for. However, those who scroll down long enough will notice that each page has a targeted message for pirates as well. The descriptions come in a few variations but all mention prominent keywords such as "torrents" and reference "illegal downloading" and unauthorized streaming.

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The FAA Gave the First Ever Go-Ahead For a Drone To Fly at an Airport

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 10:20
It's not legal to fly your drone anywhere near an airport -- at least not without a special waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration. From a report: For the first time under the FAA's commercial drone rules, the agency granted permission to operate a drone at an airport. Seven flights were conducted by Berkeley, Calif.-based 3D Robotics on Jan. 10 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, the busiest airport in the world. Restrictions on flying drones near airports have to do with safety. Not only can drones collide with planes, but seeing one can also distract a pilot. The 3D Robotics drone was given permission to collect data on two four-story parking structures at the airport that a construction firm was hired to demolish.

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Microsoft Gives Windows Device Makers Their 2017 Marching Orders

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 09:40
Microsoft officials have some fairly specific ideas about what they want their Windows-device-making partners to build in calendar 2017. From a report: Microsoft wants its OEMs and ODMs to make more Windows 10 detachables, convertibles, and ultraslims. They also are advising their partners to make devices and peripherals that highlight the "hero experiences" of Windows 10 involving Cortana, Windows Hello authentication, and Windows Ink. And another wish-list topper: Microsoft is looking for more Windows 10 PCs that can power mixed-reality peripherals and that are ready for gamers and "media fanatics."

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GitLab Says It Found Lost Data On a Staging Server

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 09:00
GitLab.com, the wannabe GitHub alternative that went down hard earlier this week and reported data loss, has said that some data is gone but that its services are now operational again. From a report The Register: The incident did not result in Git repos disappearing. Which may be why the company's PR reps characterised the lost data as "peripheral metadata that was written during a 6-hour window". But in a prose account of the incident, GitLab says "issues, merge requests, users, comments, snippets, etc" were lost. The Register imagines many developers may not be entirely happy with those data types being considered peripheral to their efforts. GitLab's PR flaks added that the incident impacted "less than 1% of our user base." But the firm's incident log says 707 users have lost data. The startup, which has raised over $25 million, added that it lost six hours of data and asserted that the lost doesn't include users' code.

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Valve and Game Publishers Face EU Probe For Geo-Blocking; ASUS Faces Probe For Online Price-Fixing

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 08:20
Valve, the company behind games distribution platform Steam, is being investigated by EU antitrust regulators. Agreements in place between Valve and five game publishers that implement geo-blocking in titles could breach European competition rules. From a BetaNews report: Valve, alongside Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax, is under investigation to determine whether the practice of restricting access to games and prices based on location is legal. At the same time the European Commission is launching an investigation into ASUS, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer for price manipulation. The investigation into the four electronics manufacturers centers around the fact that the companies restricted the ability of online retailers to set their own pricing for goods.

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Google Vows To Build Leading Cloud For Enterprise Windows, Swiping at Microsoft's Core Business

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 07:41
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.

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US Probes Panasonic Unit For Alleged Bribery Violations

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 07:00
A Panasonic inflight entertainment and communications systems subsidiary is under investigation by U.S. authorities for allegedly breaking bribery and securities laws. From a report: Panasonic Avionics Corp. is being probed by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Securities Exchange Commission for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Osaka-based company said in a statement Thursday. Panasonic said it's cooperating with the agencies, and evaluating the potential financial impact of the probe. The announcement of the probe mars an otherwise positive earnings release for Panasonic, which raised its full-year profit and revenue forecasts. The subsidiary is part of a corporate division that also makes mobile phones, projectors and surveillance cameras with a total of 33,000 employees. The segment had $6.7 billion in sales in the nine months ended Dec. 31, or 14 percent of total revenue.

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2.5 Million Xbox and PlayStation Gamers' Details Have Been Leaked From Piracy Forums

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 17:05
Xbox360ISO.com and PSPISO.com have been hacked by an unknown attacker in late 2015 and the details of the 2.5 million users affected have been leaked online. The leaked information contains email addresses, IP addresses, usernames and passwords. The Next Web reports: It seems that the operator of these sites did nothing to protect the latter, as all passwords were "protected" using the MD5 hashing system, which is trivially easy to overcome. For reference, that's the same hashing system used by LinkedIn. As the names of these sites imply, they were used to share pirated copies of games for Microsoft and Sony's gaming platforms. They also both have a thriving community where people discussed a variety of tech-related topics, including gaming news and software development. If you think you might have had an account on these sites at one point, and want to check if you were affected, you can visit Troy Hunt's Have I Been Pwned. If you have, it's worth emphasizing that anyone who gained access to that site, and anyone who has since downloaded the data dump, will be able to discern your password. If you've used it on another website or platform, you should change it.

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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medals To Be Made From Recycled Phones

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 16:20
Mickeycaskill quotes a report from Silicon.co.uk: The medals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be made from recycled mobile phones in an effort to engage the Japanese nation and meet sustainability criteria. The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee has called on the Japanese public to donate their "discarded or obsolete electronic devices" to provide the eight tonnes of metal required for the production of the medals. The production process will reduce this eight tonnes down to around two, enough to produce 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals. Collection boxes will be installed in the stores of partner organizations NTT DOCOMO and the Japan Environmental Sanitation Center (JESC) from April, with the collection ending when the eight-tonne target is reached.

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Tim Sweeney Dislikes Windows 10 Cloud Rumors, Calls OS 'Crush Steam Edition'

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 15:40
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.

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Airbus Is About To Build A Self-Flying Electric Robo-Taxi

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 15:00
Airbus said today it is building a prototype of an electric self-flying plane for a single passenger, which it is calling the Vahana. The autonomous plane can fly a single passenger on trips of around 50 miles. From a report on FastCompany: Airbus teased two possibilities for the Vahana on December 14: an electric helicopter and a plane with wings that tilt up to enable vertical take off and landing, or VTOL. After its engineers ran the numbers on both types, Airbus today announced that it's building a prototype of the sci-fi looking tilt-wing plane, which will begin test flights before the end of the year. "The vehicle is being built. Parts are being made as we speak," says Airbus chief engineer Geoffrey Bower. The company's goal is to get air taxis in service in about 10 years, possibly partnering with ride-hailing companies like Uber. "We would love to see what that kind of partnership might evolve into," says Maryanna Saenko of Airbus Ventures.

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Jury Orders Oculus To Pay $500 Million In ZeniMax Lawsuit

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 14:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Polygon: A Dallas, Texas jury today awarded half a billion dollars to ZeniMax after finding that Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, and by extension Oculus, failed to comply with a non-disclosure agreement he signed. In awarding ZeniMax $500 million, the jury also said that Oculus did not misappropriate trade secrets as contended by ZeniMax. Of the $500 million, Oculus is paying out $200 million for breaking the NDA and $50 million for copyright infringement. Oculus and Luckey each have to pay $50 million for false designation. And Iribe has to pay $150 million for the same, final count. The decision came back Wednesday afternoon following two and a half days of deliberation in the case being tried in a United States District court in the North District of Texas. Both id Software co-founder John Carmack and Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey were in the courtroom when the verdict was read. During closing arguments, ZeniMax attorney Anthony Sammi called the incident a heist and argued that ZeniMax should be awarded $2 billion in compensation and another $2 billion in punitive damages. Oculus attorney Beth Wilkinson argued that the multibillion-dollar lawsuit was driven by ZeniMax's embarrassment, jealousy and anger, not facts. It remains unclear what sort of impact this will have on the daily retail sale of the Oculus Rift headsets.

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EU Announces Deal To End All Wireless Roaming Charges

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 13:40
The European Union took a big step toward creating a Digital Single Market today with the announcement of a deal that would end roaming charges for mobile consumers across the continent. From a report on VentureBeat: The plan had originally been announced two years ago when the European Commission unveiled an ambitious plan to create a DSM that would unify the continent's fractured rules around digital content, ecommerce, and mobile communications. However, the plan to end roaming charges across boarders ran into stiff opposition from telecom carriers worried about profits and consumers who were concerned about limits it imposed on data usage. As a result, the proposal appeared dead at one point last year. But negotiators said today they had reached an agreement on technical issues like sharing carrier costs across networks and a gradual phase-out of caps on data usage.

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