Government

Putin's Internet Czar Wants To Ban Windows On Government PCs 307

SmartAboutThings writes: The Russian government is allegedly looking to ban Microsoft's Windows operating system, increase taxes on foreign technology companies, develop its homegrown OS and encourage local tech companies to grow. All these proposals comes from German Klimenko, Vladimir Putin's new 'internet czar, as Bloomberg describes him. In a 90-minute interview, Klimenko said forcing Google and Apple to pay more taxes and banning Microsoft Windows from government computers are necessary measures, as he is trying to raise taxes on U.S. companies, thus helping local Russian competitors such as Yandex and Mail.ru.
AI

NHTSA Gives Green Light To Self-Driving Cars 220

New submitter tyme writes: Reuters reports that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told Google that it would recognize the artificial intelligence in a self-driving car as the "driver" (rather than any of the occupants). The letter also says that NHTSA will write safety rules for self-driving cars in the next six months, paving the way for deployment of self-driving cars in large numbers.
Encryption

Federal Bill Could Override State-Level Encryption Bans (thestack.com) 137

An anonymous reader writes: A new bill has been proposed in Congress today by Representatives Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) which looks to put a stop to any pending state-level legislation that could result in misguided encryption measures. The Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016 comes as a response to state-level encryption bills which have already been proposed in New York state and California. These near-identical proposals argued in favour of banning the sale of smartphones sold in the U.S. that feature strong encryption and cannot be accessed by the manufacturer. If these bills are passed, current smartphones, including iPhone and Android models, would need to be significantly redesigned for sale in these two states. Now Lieu and Farenthold are making moves to prevent the passing of the bills because of their potential impact on trade [PDF] and the competitiveness of American firms.
Advertising

Why Stack Overflow Doesn't Care About Ad Blockers 287

Press2ToContinue writes: Forging a bold step in the right direction, Stack Overflow announced today that they don't care if you use an ad blocker when you visit their site. "The truth is: we don't care if our users use ad blockers on Stack Overflow. More accurately: we hope that they won't, but we understand that some people just don't like ads. Our belief is that if someone doesn't like them, and they won't click on them, any impressions served to them will only annoy them-- plus, serving ads to people who won't click on them harms campaign performance. ... Publishers can't win by forcing ads — especially low-quality ads — in people's faces. Think scantily-clad women selling flight deals, weight-loss supplement promos or wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube-men promoting car dealerships." It's possible that this declaration by SO might help to clarify to advertisers that it is the overabundance of low quality ads that practically force the public to seek out ad blockers. But seriously, what is the likelihood of that?
Privacy

Most IT Pros Have Seen Embarrassing Information About Their Colleagues 143

An anonymous reader writes: Often working in isolation, IT teams are still considered to be supporting players in many workplaces, yet the responsibility being placed on them is huge. In the event of a cyber attack, network outage or other major issue, they will typically drop everything to fix the problem at hand. Almost all the respondents (95%) to a new AlienVault survey said that they have fixed a user or executive's personal computer issue during their work hours. In addition, over three-quarters (77%) said that they had seen and kept secret potentially embarrassing information relating to their colleagues' or executives' use of company-owned IT resources.
Facebook

French Gov't Gives Facebook 3 Months To Stop Tracking Non-User Browsers 176

Reader iamthecheese writes RT reports that France's National Commission of Information and Freedoms found Facebook tracking of non-user browsers to be illegal. Facebook has three months to stop doing it. The ruling points to violations of members and non-members privacy in violation of an earlier ruling. The guidance, published last October, invalidates safe harbor provisions. If Facebook fails to comply the French authority will appoint someone to decide upon a sanction. Related: A copy of the TPP leaked last year no longer requires signing countries to have a safe harbor provision.
Crime

Hearthstone Cheats and Tools Spiked With Malware (csoonline.com) 41

itwbennett writes: Cheating at the online card game Hearthstone (which is based on Blizzard's World of Warcraft) can get you banned from the game, but now it also puts you at risk of 'financial losses and system ruin,' writes CSO's Steve Ragan. Symantec is warning Hearthstone players about add-on tools and cheat scripts that are spiked with malware. 'In one example, Hearth Buddy, a tool that allows bots to play the game instead of a human player (which is supposed to help with rank earnings and gold earning) compromises the entire system,' says Ragan. 'Another example, are the dust and gold hacking tools (Hearthstone Hack Tool), which install malware that targets Bitcoin wallets.'
Censorship

FBI Gripes "We Can't Read Everyone's Secrets" (reuters.com) 172

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?
Security

President Obama Unveils $19 Billion Plan To Overhaul U.S. Cybersecurity 185

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.
Advertising

Adblock Fast Returns To Google Play a Week After Being Pulled 53

An anonymous reader writes: A week ago, Google suddenly removed Adblock Fast from its Android app store. Today, the ad blocker has been reinstated, enabling Samsung users to download it once again from Google Play. Late last month, the browser preinstalled on Samsung's Android phones gained support for content-blocking plugins, and the first plugin to support the functionality was a free and open-source solution called Adblock Fast. Rocketship Apps, the maker of Adblock Fast, uploaded the Android plugin on January 29, but Google rejected an app update on February 1. The app hit Google Play's top spot for free, new productivity apps on February 2, and was pulled by Google on the same day.
Australia

Australia Cuts 110 Climate Scientist Jobs: "The Science is Settled." 555

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.
Advertising

Wired To Block Ad-Blocking Users, Offer Subscription (wired.com) 667

AmiMoJo writes: In a blog post Wired has announced that it will begin to block users who block ads on its site: "On an average day, more than 20 percent of the traffic to WIRED.com comes from a reader who is blocking our ads. We know that you come to our site primarily to read our content, but it's important to be clear that advertising is how we keep WIRED going," wrote the editors. The post goes on to offer two options for users blocking ads: whitelist wired.com or subscribe for $1/week.
Crime

Hackers Leak List of FBI Employees (vice.com) 128

puddingebola writes: The hackers responsible for the leaking of DHS employees made good on their threat to reveal the names of 20,000 FBI employees. From the article: "The hacker provided Motherboard with a copy of the data on Sunday. The list includes names, email addresses (many of which are non-public) and job descriptions, such as task force deputy director, security specialist, special agent, and many more. The list also includes roughly 1,000 FBI employees in an intelligence analysis role."
Businesses

Sen. Blumenthal Demands Lifting of IT 'Gag' Order (computerworld.com) 220

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."
Piracy

Anti-Piracy Group BREIN Demands Torrents Time Cease and Desist 91

An anonymous reader writes: Not even a week has gone by since Torrents Time appeared on the scene, and the site has already been served with a cease-and-desist letter. Anti-piracy group BREIN, based in the Netherlands, has deemed the streaming tool an "illegal application" and demands the administrators "cease and desist the distribution of Torrents Time immediately."
GNU is Not Unix

Talos Secure Workstation Is Free-Software Centric — and $3100 [Updated] 117

jones_supa writes: These days, the motivation to use open source software for many people is to avoid backdoors placed by intelligence organizations and to avoid software that has hidden privacy-intruding characteristics. For the operating system and userspace software, open choices are already available. The last remaining island has been the firmware included in various ROM chips in a computer. Libreboot has introduced an open BIOS, but it is not available for newer systems featuring the Intel ME or AMD PSP management features. Talos' Secure Workstation fills this need, providing a modern system with 8-core POWER8 CPU, 132 GB RAM, and open firmware. The product is currently in a pre-release phase where Raptor Engineering is trying to understand if it's possible to do a production run of the machine. If you are interested, it's worth visiting the official website. Adds an anonymous reader about the new system, which rings in at a steep $3100: "While the engineers found solace in the POWER8 architecture with being more open than AMD/Intel CPUs, they still are searching for a graphics card that is open enough to receive the FSF Respect Your Freedom certification." Update: 02/08 18:44 GMT by T : See also Linux hacker and IBM employee Stewart Smith's talk from the just-completed linux.conf.au on, in which he walks through "all of the firmware components and what they do, including the boot sequence from power being applied up to booting an operating system." Update: 02/08 23:30 GMT by T :FSF Licensing & Compliance Manager Joshua Gay wrote to correct the headline originally appeared with this story, which said that the Talos workstation described was "FSF Certified"; that claim was an error I introduced. "The FSF has not certified this hardware," says Gay, "nor is it currently reviewing the hardware for FSF certification." Sorry for the confusion.
Crime

Metel Hackers Roll Back ATM Transactions, Steal Millions (threatpost.com) 72

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.
Security

Hackers Leak DHS Staff Directory, Claim FBI Is Next (csoonline.com) 81

itwbennett writes: On Sunday, the name, title, email address, and phone number of more than 9,000 DHS employees, with titles ranging from engineers, to security specialists, program analysts, InfoSec and IT, all the way up to director level was posted on Twitter. 'The account went on to claim that an additional data dump focused on 20,000 FBI employees was next,' writes CSO's Steve Ragan. The hacker told Motherboard that the data was obtained by "compromising the email account of a DoJ employee, although he would not elaborate on how that account was accessed in the first place."
The Internet

India Blocks Facebook's Free Basics Internet Service (thestack.com) 133

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.
Advertising

Adblock Plus Maker Seeks Deal With Ad Industry Players (yahoo.com) 356

An anonymous reader writes with Yahoo's report that the makers of Adblock Plus are "looking to reach out to advertisers and identify an 'acceptable' level and form of advertising on the net." That involves convincing advertisers to conform to the company's own guidelines for advertising, or an alternative path much disliked by some of the software's users — to pay the company to ignore ads that don't meet those guidelines. From the article: Big websites can pay a fee not to be blocked. And it is these proceeds that finance the Cologne-based company and its 49-strong workforce. While Google and Amazon have paid up, others refuse. Axel Springer, which publishers Germany's best-selling daily Bild, accuses [Adblock Plus maker] Eyeo of racketeering. "We believe Eyeo's business model is against the law," a spokesman for Springer told AFP. "Clearly, Eyeo's primary aim is to get its hands on a share of the advertising revenues." Ultimately, such practices posed a threat to the professional journalism on the web, he suggested, an argument Eyeo rejects.

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