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United States

Tech Titans Oracle, Red Hat and Google To Help Fix Healthcare.gov 404

Posted by samzenpus
from the with-a-little-help-from-my-friends dept.
wjcofkc writes "The United States Government has officially called in the calvary over the problems with Healthcare.gov. Tech titans Oracle, Red Hat and Google have been tapped to join the effort to fix the website that went live a month ago, only to quickly roll over and die. While a tech surge of engineers to fix such a complex problem is arguably not the greatest idea, if you're going to do so, you might as well bring in the big guns. The question is: can they make the end of November deadline?"
Security

Pen Testers Break Into Gov't Agency With Fake Social Media ID 109

Posted by timothy
from the open-government dept.
itwbennett writes "Security experts used fake Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to penetrate the defenses of an (unnamed) U.S. government agency with a high level of cybersecurity awareness. The attack was part of a sanctioned penetration test performed in 2012 and its results were presented Wednesday at the RSA Europe security conference in Amsterdam. The testers built a credible online identity for a fictional woman named Emily Williams and used that identity to pose as a new hire at the targeted organization. The attackers managed to launch sophisticated attacks against the agency's employees, including an IT security manager who didn't even have a social media presence. Within the first 15 hours, Emily Williams had 60 Facebook connections and 55 LinkedIn connections with employees from the targeted organization and its contractors. After 24 hours she had 3 job offers from other companies."
Privacy

Silent Circle, Lavabit Unite For 'Dark Mail' Encrypted Email Project 195

Posted by timothy
from the it's-so-spooky dept.
angry tapir writes "Two privacy-focused email providers have launched the Dark Mail Alliance, a project to engineer an email system with robust defenses against spying. Silent Circle and Lavabit abruptly halted their encrypted email services in August, saying they could no longer guarantee email would remain private after court actions against Lavabit, reportedly an email provider for NSA leaker Edward Snowden."
The Almighty Buck

State Technology Taxes Face Stiff Resistance 167

Posted by samzenpus
from the sending-an-angry-email dept.
SonicSpike writes "As the nation moves from a tangible goods-based economy to a service-based economy, a few states are trying to keep revenues robust by taxing technological services such as software upgrades and cloud computing. But a backlash from the high-tech industry has quashed most efforts. As a result, the U.S. has a patchwork quilt of state taxes on technological services. Some states that have tried to impose such taxes have failed spectacularly, and most have not tried at all. According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank that studies taxes, only 10 states (Connecticut, New Mexico, Hawaii, South Dakota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia tax all writing or updating of software. Only New Mexico, Hawaii and South Dakota levy their general sales taxes on all software services. States with sales taxes do, however, levy those taxes on software that is sold on CDs or other hard storage materials. About half the states also tax 'canned' (non-altered) software that can be downloaded, according to the Tax Foundation. Elia Peterson, an analyst with the foundation, said in a recent paper that states are reluctant to tax computer services in large part because it 'is an especially mobile industry and could easily move to a lower tax state.'"
Australia

Spy Expert Says Australia Operating As "Listening Post" For US Agencies 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.
First time accepted submitter ozduo writes in with news about Australia's alleged involvement with the ongoing NSA spying program. "Intelligence expert Professor Des Ball says the Australian Signals Directorate — formerly known as the Defense Signals Directorate — is sharing information with the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA is the agency at the heart of whistleblower Edward Snowden's leaks, and has recently been accused of tapping into millions of phone calls of ordinary citizens in France, Germany and Spain. Mr Ball says Australia has been monitoring the Asia Pacific region for the US using local listening posts. 'You can't get into the information circuits and play information warfare successfully unless you're into the communications of the higher commands in [the] various countries in our neighborhood,' he told Lateline. Mr Ball says Australia has four key facilities that are part of the XKeyscore program, the NSA's controversial computer system that searches and analyses vast amounts of internet data. They include the jointly-run Pine Gap base near Alice Springs, a satellite station outside Geraldton in Western Australia, a facility at Shoal Bay, near Darwin, and a new center in Canberra."
Communications

The Case Against Gmail 435

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-very-convenient dept.
stry_cat writes "Ed Bot makes the case against Gmail: 'Gmail was a breath of fresh air when it debuted. But this onetime alternative is showing signs that it's past its prime, especially if you want to use the service with a third-party client. That's the way Google wants it, which is why I've given up on Gmail after almost a decade.' Personally, I've always thought it odd that no other email provider ever adopted Gmails "search not sort" mentality. I've been a Gmail user since you needed an invitation to get an account. However Gmail has been steadily moving towards a more traditional email experience. Plus there's the iGoogle disaster that got me looking into alternatives to everything Google."
The Internet

NSA Broke Into Links Between Google, Yahoo Datacenters 394

Posted by timothy
from the smiley-makes-it-all-ok dept.
barlevg writes "The Washington Post reports that, according to documents obtained from Edward Snowden, through their so-called 'MUSCULAR' initiative, the National Security Agency has exploited a weakness in the transfers between data centers, which Google and others pay a premium to send over secure fiber optic cables. The leaked documents include a post-it note as part of an internal NSA Powerpoint presentation showing a diagram of Google network traffic, an arrow pointing to the Google front-end server with text reading, 'SSL Added and Removed Here' with a smiley face. When shown the sketch by The Post and asked for comment, two engineers with close ties to Google responded with strings of profanity." The Washington Post report is also summarized at SlashBI. Also in can't-trust-the-government-not-to-spy news, an anonymous reader writes: "According to recent reports, the National Security Agency collects 'one-end foreign' Internet metadata as it passes through the United States. The notion is that purely domestic communications should receive greater protection, and that ordinary Americans won't send much personal information outside the country. A researcher at Stanford put this hypothesis to the test... and found that popular U.S. websites routinely pass browsing activity to international servers. Even the House of Representatives website was sending traffic to London. When the NSA vacuums up international Internet metadata, then, it's also snooping on domestic web browsing by millions of Americans."
Privacy

Facebook Testing Screen-Tracking Software For Users 115

Posted by timothy
from the happy-pre-hallowe'en dept.
cagraham writes "Facebook is currently testing software that would track user's cursor movements, as well as monitor how often a user's newsfeed was visible on their mobile phone, according to the Wall Street Journal. The additional data from such tracking would potentially let Facebook raise their ad prices, as they could deliver even more information about user's on-site behavior to advertisers, such as how long users hovered over specific ads. In order to analyze the extra data, Facebook will utilize a custom version of Hadoop."
Communications

Cable Lobbyist Tom Wheeler Confirmed As New FCC Chief 242

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the jealous-of-australian-data-caps dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Senate confirmed Tuesday the nomination of a new chairman to the Federal Communications Commission. Wheeler is a former investor and head of telecommunications industry groups. President Barack Obama said, when announcing Wheeler as his choice in May, that 'for more than 30 years, Tom has been at the forefront of some of the very dramatic changes that we've seen in the way we communicate and how we live our lives.'"
Mozilla

Cisco Releases Open Source "Binary Module" For H.264 In WebRTC 95

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bait-and-switch dept.
SD-Arcadia writes "Mozilla Blog: 'Cisco has announced today that they are going to release a gratis, high quality, open source H.264 implementation — along with gratis binary modules compiled from that source and hosted by Cisco for download. This move enables any open source project to incorporate Cisco's H.264 module without paying MEPG LA license fees. Of course, this is not a not a complete solution. In a perfect world, codecs, like other basic Internet technologies such as TCP/IP, HTTP, and HTML, would be fully open and free for anyone to modify, recompile, and redistribute without license agreements or fees. Mozilla is fully committed to working towards that better future. To that end, we are developing Daala, a fully open next generation codec. Daala is still under development, but our goal is to leapfrog H.265 and VP9, building a codec that will be both higher-quality and free of encumbrances.'"
Transportation

Police Use James-Bond-Style GPS Bullet 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the coordinated-assault dept.
mrspoonsi writes "The BBC reports that police in the U.S. are now using 'GPS bullets,' a device they can shoot at fleeing vehicles in order to track them. They're designed to make high-speed chases safer. The pursuing police car presses a button, a lid pops open, and a GPS bullet is fired which becomes attached to the fleeing car. The car can then be tracked from a distance in real-time without the need for a high-speed pursuit."
Businesses

Infosys Fined $35M For Illegally Bringing Programmers Into US On Visitor Visas 201

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-ain't-cheatin'-you-ain't-tryin' dept.
McGruber writes "The U.S. government fined Infosys $35 million after an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department found that the Indian company used inexpensive, easy-to-obtain B-1 visas meant to cover short business visits — instead of harder-to-get H-1B work visas — to bring an unknown number of its employees for long-term stays. The alleged practice enabled Infosys to undercut competitors in bids for programming, accounting and other work performed for clients, according to people close to the investigation. Infosys clients have included Goldman Sachs Group, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. Infosys said in an email that it is talking with the U.S. Attorney's office, 'regarding a civil resolution of the government's investigation into the company's compliance' with employment-record 'I-9 form' requirements and past use of the B-1 visa. A company spokesman, who confirmed a resolution will be announced Wednesday, said Infosys had set aside $35 million to settle the case and cover legal costs. He said the sum was 'a good indication' of the amount involved."
Piracy

RIAA Targets 21 Sites For Shutdown 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
New submitter souperfly writes "The Inquirer has a list of 21 sites that the RIAA is looking to get shut down by ISPs this week. The list includes sites filestube, Bomb-Mp3, Mp3skull, Bitsnoop, Extratorrent, Torrenthound, Torrentreactor and Monova, and at least one ISP — Virgin Media in the UK — has confirmed the number of targeted sites. BT confirmed it will block the site, but didn't say when. Before, it was thought that only six sites were lined up for a chop."
Transportation

Toyota's Killer Firmware 610

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-draws-first-blood dept.
New submitter Smerta writes "On Thursday, a jury verdict found Toyota's ECU firmware defective, holding it responsible for a crash in which a passenger was killed and the driver injured. What's significant about this is that it's the first time a jury heard about software defects uncovered by a plaintiff's expert witnesses. A summary of the defects discussed at trial is interesting reading, as well the transcript of court testimony. 'Although Toyota had performed a stack analysis, Barr concluded the automaker had completely botched it. Toyota missed some of the calls made via pointer, missed stack usage by library and assembly functions (about 350 in total), and missed RTOS use during task switching. They also failed to perform run-time stack monitoring.' Anyone wonder what the impact will be on self-driving cars?"
The Military

The Pentagon May Retire "Yoda," Its 92-Year-Old Futurist 254

Posted by timothy
from the as-he-himself-foresaw dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Of all the weapons the Pentagon relies on to defend the United States, one of the strangest and most secretive is Andrew Marshall, a 92-year-old man who's spent the last 40 years staring into the future trying to predict the next big threat to America. Known fondly as "Yoda" to his many fans in Washington, Marshall heads up the Office of Net Assessment—the Defense Department's think tank tasked with taking a long view, out-of-the-box approach to defense strategy. In his role as the Pentagon's visionary sage, Marshall is credited with predicting the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of China's global prominence, the role of autonomous weapons and robots in warfare, and even helping end the Cold War. Now, facing budget cuts, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is considering reorganizing or possibly even shuttering the futurist think tank, Defense News recently reported."
Censorship

UK Prime Minister Threatens To Block Further Snowden Revelations 431

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the on-with-their-heads dept.
Bruce66423 writes "From the article: 'In a statement to MPs on Monday about last week's European summit in Brussels, where he warned of the dangers of a "lah-di-dah, airy-fairy view" about the dangers of leaks, the prime minister said his preference was to talk to newspapers rather than resort to the courts. But he said it would be difficult to avoid acting if newspapers declined to heed government advice.' So that will achieve something won't it? Don't these politicians understand that blocking publication in just the UK achieves nothing? The information is held outside the UK, and will be published there; all he's doing is showing his real colors."
United States

Even the Author of the Patriot Act Is Trying To Stop the NSA 322

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the clinging-to-power dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner will introduce an anti-NSA bill tomorrow in the House, and if it makes its winding way to becoming law, it will be a big step towards curtailing the NSA's bulk metadata collection. Wisconsin Rep. Sensenbrenner, along with 60 co-sponsors, aims to amend one section of the Patriot Act, Section 215, in a bill known as the United and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act — also known by its less-clunky acronym version, the USA Freedom Act."
Ubuntu

Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth Wins Austria's Big Brother Award 116

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the it-burns dept.
sfcrazy writes "Austria's Big Brother Awards awarded the coveted Big Brother Award to Ubuntu's founder Mark Shuttleworth for Ubuntu Dash's privacy reducing online extensions to local searches." From the article: "What’s bad here and raises question here is that despite repeated requests Canonical refused to make the tracking option opt-in. The feature is installed and enabled by default so the moment one install Ubuntu it starts sending info to Canonical servers until the user deliberately disables it."
The Courts

Anti-Poaching Lawsuit Against Apple, Google and Others Given the Green Light 172

Posted by samzenpus
from the hands-off dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A class action lawsuit against Apple, Google and a number of other high-profile tech companies has been given the green light by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. The lawsuit stems from anti-poaching agreements that Apple a number of tech companies entered into from 2005 through 2009. Parties to the agreement all promised not to recruit employees from one another. The companies involved include Apple, Intel, Google, Intuit, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Adobe."

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