Government

MIT Inches Closer To ARC Reactor Despite Losing Federal Funding (computerworld.com) 179

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.
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.
It's funny.  Laugh.

John Cleese Warns Campus Political Correctness Leading Towards 1984 (washingtonexaminer.com) 662

An anonymous reader writes: Ashe Schow writes at the Washington Examiner that, "The Monty Python co-founder, in a video for Internet forum Big Think, railed against the current wave of hypersensitivity on college campuses, saying he has been warned against performing on campuses. "[Psychiatrist Robin Skynner] said: 'If people can't control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people's behavior,'" Cleese said. "And when you're around super-sensitive people, you cannot relax and be spontaneous because you have no idea what's going to upset them next." Cleese said that it's one thing to be "mean" to "people who are not able to look after themselves very well," but it was another to take it to "the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group could be labeled cruel." Cleese added that "comedy is critical," and if society starts telling people "we mustn't criticize or offend them," then humor goes out the window. "With humor goes a sense of proportion," Cleese said. "And then, as far as I'm concerned, you're living in 1984." Cleese is just the latest comedian to lecture college students about being so sensitive.
United States

Journalist Claims Secret US Flight 'To Capture Snowden' Overflew Scottish Airspace (thenational.scot) 196

schwit1 writes with a story in The National (a newspaper which makes no bones about it support for an independent Scotland) describing the charge laid by a Scottish journalist that in 2013 a secret U.S. flight involving a plane involved in CIA renditions crossed Scottish airspace, as part of a secret plan to capture whistleblower Edward Snowden. Alex Salmond, then Scotland's First Minister, is calling for transparency with regard to the knowledge that the UK government had of the flight and its mission. According to the report, The plane, which passed above the Outer Hebrides, the Highlands and Aberdeenshire, was dispatched from the American east coast on June 24 2013, the day after Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow. The craft was used in controversial US 'rendition' missions. Reports by Scottish journalist Duncan Campbell claim the aircraft, traveling well above the standard aviation height at 45,000 feet and without a filed flight plan, was part of a mission to capture Snowden following his release of documents revealing mass surveillance by US and UK secret services. ... [N977GA, the aircraft named as involved in this flight] was previously identified by Dave Willis in Air Force Monthly as an aircraft used for CIA rendition flights of US prisoners. This included the extradition of cleric Abu Hamza from the UK. Snowden accused the Danish Government of conspiring in his arrest. In response to flight reports, he said: "Remember when the Prime Minister Rasmussen said Denmark shouldn't respect asylum law in my case? Turns out he had a secret."
Privacy

Shopping Mall SMS Parking Notifications Could Be Used To Track Any Car (itnews.com.au) 42

Bismillah writes: Westfield's Scentre Group has removed SMS notifications for its ticketless parking system after it was discovered they could be used to track other people's cars unnoticed. The system allows you to enter any licence plate, which in turn will be scanned upon entry and exit at mall parking facilities — and when the free parking time is up, a notification message is sent to the mobile phone number entered, with the exact location of the car.
Privacy

EU Proposes End of Anonymity For Bitcoin and Prepaid Card Users (thestack.com) 158

An anonymous reader writes: In June the European Commission will propose new legislation to effectively end the possibility of anonymous payment, by forcing users of virtual currencies like Bitcoin, and of prepaid credit cards, to provide identity details. Additionally the EC intends to propose monitoring inter-bank transfers within Europe, a measure which had not been implemented with the launch of the EU-US Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP). Though the proposed measures are intended to heap new pressure on the financing of terrorism, a report from Interpol last week concluded that terrorist funding methods have not changed substantially in recent years, stating 'Despite third party reporting suggesting the use of anonymous currencies like Bitcoin by terrorists to finance their activities, this has not been confirmed by law enforcement.'
Encryption

Socat Weak Crypto Draws Suspicions Of a Backdoor (threatpost.com) 50

msm1267 writes: Socat is the latest open source tool to come under suspicion that it is backdoored. A security advisory published Monday warned that the OpenSSL address implementation in Socat contains a hard-coded Diffie-Hellman 1024-bit prime number that was not prime. "The effective cryptographic strength of a key exchange using these parameters was weaker than the one one could get by using a prime p," the advisory said. "Moreover, since there is no indication of how these parameters were chosen, the existence of a trapdoor that makes possible for an eavesdropper to recover the shared secret from a key exchange that uses them cannot be ruled out." Socat said it has generated a new prime that is 2048 bits long; versions 1.7.3.0 and 2.0.0-b8 are affected. The advisory adds that a temporary workaround would be to disable the Diffie-Hellman ciphers.
Democrats

Perfect Coin-Toss Record Broke 6 Clinton-Sanders Deadlocks In Iowa (marketwatch.com) 634

schwit1 writes: While it was hard to call a winner between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders last night, it's easy to say who was luckier. The race between the Democrat presidential hopefuls was so tight in the Iowa caucus Monday that in at least six precincts, the decision on awarding a county delegate came down to a coin toss. And Clinton won all six, media reports said.
The Courts

Fine Brothers File For Trademark On Word "React" 204

DewDude writes: You've probably seen them on YouTube: Fine Brothers are the two behind the video series Teens React, Kids React, and Elders React. Well, the two seem to feel they somehow invented this whole thing and have now filed for a very broad trademark. The USPTO filing says the trademark will be published tomorrow and looking at the filing; it is literally for the word "react" and simply shows a screenshot of their YouTube page. They have also apparently gotten approval for "Parents React," "Celebrities React," and "Parents React"; as well as filed applications for things such as "Do They Know It," "Lyric Breakdown," "People v. Technology," and "Try Not To Smile Or Laugh."
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.
The Courts

Former Yahoo Employee Challenges the Legality of Yahoo's Ranking System (nytimes.com) 250

whoever57 writes: A former employee of Yahoo is challenging Yahoo's performance review and termination process. The ranking system was introduced to Yahoo by Ms. Mayer on the recommendation of management consultants McKinsey & Co.. Gregory Anderson, an editor who oversaw Yahoo's autos, homes, shopping, small business and travel sites in Sunnyvale, Calif. is claiming that the ranking and termination process was flawed to the extent that the terminations were not based on performance and hence constitute mass layoffs, which require notice periods under both California and Federal law. He is also alleging gender discrimination, under which women were given preferential treatment over men in the hiring, promotions and layoff processes.
Crime

Dutch Police Train Bald Eagles To Take Out Drones 137

Qbertino writes: Heise.de (German article) reports that the Dutch police is training raptor birds — bald eagles, too — to take down drones. There's a video (narrated and interviewed in Dutch) linked in TFA. It's a test phase and not yet determined if this is going real — concerns about the birds getting injured are among the counter-arguments against this course of action. This all is conducted by a company called "Guard from above," which designs systems to prevent smugling via drones. The article also mentions MTU's net-shooting quadcopter concept of a drone-predator. Of course, there are also 'untrained' birds taking out quadcopters, as you might have seen already.
Transportation

The Feds' Freeway Font Flip-Flop (citylab.com) 182

McGruber writes: Citylab has the news that the U.S. Federal Highway Administration is revoking its 2004 approval of the "Clearview" font for road signs. Clearview was made to improve upon its predecessor, a 1940s font called Highway Gothic. Certain letters appeared to pose visibility problems, especially those with tight interstices (or internal spacing)—namely lowercase e, a, and s. At night, any of these reflective letters might appear to be a lowercase o in the glare of headlights. By opening up these letterforms, and mixing lowercase and uppercase styles, Clearview aimed to improve how these reflective highway signs read.

Now, just 12 years later, the FHWA is reversing itself: "After more than a decade of analysis, we learned—among other things—that Clearview actually compromises the legibility of signs in negative-contrast color orientations, such as those with black letters on white or yellow backgrounds like Speed Limit and Warning signs," said Doug Hecox, a FHWA spokesperson, in an email. The FHWA has not yet provided any research on Clearview that disproves the early claims about the font's benefits. But there is at least one factor that clearly distinguishes it from Highway Gothic: cost. Jurisdictions that adopt Clearview must purchase a standard license for type, a one-time charge of between $175 (for one font) and $795 (for the full 13-font typeface family) and up, depending on the number of workstations.

That doesn't seems like a very good use of tax money, for something that can be nondestructively reused once created.
Privacy

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Reduce Information Leakage From My Personal Devices? 255

Mattcelt writes: I find that using an ad-blocking hosts file has been one of the most effective way to secure my devices against malware for the past few years. But the sheer number of constantly-shifting server DNs to block means I couldn't possibly manage such a list on my own. And finding out today that Microsoft is, once again, bollocks at privacy (no surprise there) made me think I need to add a new strategic purpose to my hosts solution — specifically, preventing my devices from 'phoning home'. Knowing that my very Operating Systems are working against me in this regard incenses me, and I want more control over who collects my data and how. Does anyone here know of a place that maintains a list of the servers to block if I don't want Google/Apple/Microsoft to receive information about my usage and habits? It likely needs to be documented so certain services can be enabled or disabled on an as-needed basis, but as a starting point, I'll gladly take a raw list for now.
Crime

San Francisco Bay Area In Superbowl Surveillance Mode (wired.com) 95

An anonymous reader links to Wired's description of a surveillance society in miniature assembling right now in San Francisco: Super Bowl 50 will be big in every way. A hundred million people will watch the game on TV. Over the next ten days, 1 million people are expected to descend on the San Francisco Bay Area for the festivities. And, according to the FBI, 60 federal, state, and local agencies are working together to coordinate surveillance and security at what is the biggest national security event of the year.
Previous year's Superbowl security measures have included WMD sensors, database-backed facial recognition, and gamma-ray vehicle scanners. Given the fears and cautions in the air about this year's contest, it's easy to guess that the scanning and sensing will be even more prevalent this time.
Microsoft

Microsoft Edge's Private Browsing Mode Isn't Actually Private (betanews.com) 159

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: The forensic examination of most web browsers has proven that they don't have a provision for storing the details of privately browsed web sessions. However, in the case of Microsoft Edge, the private browsing isn't as private as it seems. Previous investigations of the browser have resulted in revealing that websites visited in private mode are also stored in the browser's WebCache file. The Container_n table stores web history, and a field named 'Flag' with a value of '8' shows that website was visited in private mode. An investigator can easily spot the difference and use this evidence against a person. The not-so-private browsing featured by Edge makes its very purpose seem to fail, and you can't help but ask how such a fundamental aspect of private browsing could be so fantastically borked. It beggars belief.
Bug

FTDI Driver Breaks Hardware Again (eevblog.com) 268

janoc writes: It seems that the infamous FTDI driver that got famous by intentionally bricking counterfeit chips [NOTE: that driver was later removed] has got a new update that injects garbage data ('NON GENUINE DEVICE FOUND!') into the serial data. This was apparently going on for a while, but only now is the driver being pushed as an automatic update through Windows Update, thus many more people stand to be affected by this.

Let's hope that nobody dies in an industrial accident when a tech connects their cheap USB-to-serial cable to a piece of machinery and the controller misinterprets the garbage data.

Security

NSA Hacker Chief Explains How To Keep Him Out of Your System (wired.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes: Rob Joyce, the nation's hacker-in-chief, took up the ironic task of telling a roomful of computer security professionals and academics how to keep people like him and his elite corps out of their systems. Joyce himself did little to shine a light on the TAO's classified operations. His talk was mostly a compendium of best security practices. But he did drop a few of the not-so-secret secrets of the NSA's success, with many people responding to his comments on Twitter.
United States

Air Force Firewall Now Designated a Weapons System (gazette.com) 137

An anonymous reader writes with a report from the Colorado Springs Gazette that the U.S. Air Force Space Command has declared its first cyber "weapons system" operational. The weapon, deemed fully operational this month, is basically a big firewall designed to protect the Air Force's internal 1 million-user network from hackers. It will be a hot topic at the Rocky Mountain Cyber Symposium, which is expected to draw hundreds of computer experts to The Broadmoor for a four-day confab starting Monday." More from the article about why a firewall would be called a weapon: The biggest reason for the weaponization push is financial: When it comes to budget battles, weapons, even those with a keyboard and a mouse, get cash from Congress. "Designating something as a weapons system really does help us justify our funding," Col. Pamela Wooley, who commands the Alabama-based 26th Cyberspace Operations Group, which includes the new weapon.
Cellphones

ACLU Sues Anaheim Police For Public Records On Cell Phone Surveillance (scpr.org) 29

New submitter Lacey Waymire writes: The ACLU of Northern California is suing for a release of public records regarding Anaheim police's use of cell phone surveillance devices. "We don't think any surveillance devices, particularly these sorts of invasive cell phone surveillance devices, should ever be acquired or used without intense public debate and the adoption of safeguards to ensure they are only used in ways that follow our Constitution and laws," attorney Matt Cagle said. (See this Boing Boing posting with a bit more on "the happiest surveillance state on earth.")

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