Social Networks

Supreme Court Rules Sex Offenders Can't Be Barred From Social Media (gizmodo.com) 114

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: In a unanimous decision today, the Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina law that prevents sex offenders from posting on social media where children might be present, saying it "impermissibly restricts lawful speech." In doing so, the Supreme Court asserted what we all know to be true: Posting is essential to the survival of the republic. The court ruled that to "foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights." The court correctly noted that "one of the most important places to exchange views is cyberspace." The North Carolina law was ruled to be overly broad, barring "access to what for many are the principal sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge."
The Courts

Offensive Trademarks Must Be Allowed, Rules Supreme Court (arstechnica.com) 253

In a ruling that could have broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases in future, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday threw out a federal prohibition on disparaging trademarks as a constitutional violation in a ruling involving a band called The Slants. From a report: The opinion in Matal v. Tam means that Simon Tam, lead singer of an Asian-American rock band called "The Slants," will be able to trademark the name of his band. It's also relevant for a high-profile case involving the Washington Redskins, who were involved in litigation and at risk of being stripped of their trademark. The court unanimously held that a law on the books holding that a trademark can't "disparage... or bring... into contemp[t] or disrepute" any "persons, living or dead," violates the First Amendment. Tam headed to federal court years ago after he was unable to obtain a trademark. In 2015, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in Tam's favor, finding that the so-called "disparagement clause" of trademark law was unconstitutional.
Government

Using Texts as Lures, Government Spyware Targets Mexican Journalists and Their Families (nytimes.com) 54

Mexico's most prominent human rights lawyers, journalists and anti-corruption activists have been targeted by advanced spyware sold to the Mexican government on the condition that it be used only to investigate criminals and terrorists, reports the New York Times. From the report: The targets include lawyers looking into the mass disappearance of 43 students (alternative source), a highly respected academic who helped write anti-corruption legislation, two of Mexico's most influential journalists and an American representing victims of sexual abuse by the police. The spying even swept up family members, including a teenage boy. Since 2011, at least three Mexican federal agencies have purchased about $80 million worth of spyware created by an Israeli cyberarms manufacturer. The software, known as Pegasus, infiltrates smartphones to monitor every detail of a person's cellular life -- calls, texts, email, contacts and calendars. It can even use the microphone and camera on phones for surveillance, turning a target's smartphone into a personal bug.
Government

198 Million Americans Hit By 'Largest Ever' Voter Records Leak (zdnet.com) 119

Political data gathered on more than 198 million US citizens was exposed this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored internal documents on a publicly accessible Amazon server, reports say. From a ZDNet article: It's believed to be the largest ever known exposure of voter information to date. The various databases containing 198 million records on American voters from all political parties were found stored on an open Amazon S3 storage server owned by a Republican data analytics firm, Deep Root Analytics. UpGuard cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery, who found the exposed server, verified the data. Through his responsible disclosure, the server was secured late last week, and prior to publication. This leak shines a spotlight on the Republicans' multi-million dollar effort to better target potential voters by utilizing big data. The move largely a response to the successes of the Barack Obama campaign in 2008, thought to have been the first data-driven campaign. Further reading: Republican Data-Mining Firm Exposed Personal Information for Virtually Every American Voter - The Intercept; The RNC Files: Inside the Largest US Voter Data Leak - Upguard; Data on 198M voters exposed by GOP contractor Data On 198M Voters Exposed By GOP Contractor - The Hill.
The Almighty Buck

Is Coinbase Closing Accounts For Paying Ransoms With Bitcoins? (coindesk.com) 200

Even as some comparnies are stockpiling bitcoins so they can quickly pay ransom demands, security firms that try paying those ransoms may face losing their accounts on Coinbase. Slashdot reader Mosquito Bites quotes a report from CoinDesk: Less than a year ago, Vinny Troia, CEO and principal security consultant of Night Lion Security and a certified white hat hacker, was sent a compliance form by US bitcoin exchange Coinbase, where he had an account. Coinbase wanted to know how Troia was using bitcoin and his account. "I told them I run a security firm. I pay for ransoms and buy documents on the dark web when clients request it," Troia told CoinDesk. The ransoms Troia helps his clients pay are those stemming from ransomware attacks, which have surged in number over the past few years. Many, like the well-publicized WannaCry attack, are asking for bitcoin.

And the documents? Troia said, "We do breach investigations a lot of times. If a fraudster is saying they're selling my client's stolen documents, the only way to make sure they have what they say they have is to buy those documents." According to Troia, Coinbase "did not like that at all." Coinbase then asked the IT expert whether he had a letter from the Department of Justice giving him permission to do those things. No, Troia said. Upon further research, Troia has not found that any such permission exists. But, "I have my clients authorizing me to do this," he said. Coinbase sent Troia back an email explaining that those actions were against the exchange's rules and shut down his account... "My entire family is blocked from Coinbase," he said.

United States

Louisville's Fiber Internet Expansion Opposed By Koch Brothers Group (usatoday.com) 230

Slashdot reader simkel shared an article from the Courier-Journal: A group affiliated with the Koch brothers' powerful political network is leading an online campaign against Mayor Greg Fischer's $5.4 million proposal to expand Louisville's ultra-fast internet access... Critics argue that building roughly 96 miles of fiber optic cabling is an unnecessary taxpayer giveaway to internet service providers, such as Google Fiber, which recently announced plans to begin building its high-speed network in the city. "Fundamentally, we don't believe that taxpayers should be funding broadband or internet systems," said David Williams, president of the taxpayers alliance, which is part of industrialists Charles and David Koch's political donor network... The group says $5.4 million is a misuse of taxpayer funds when the city has other needs, such as infrastructure and public safety.
To shore up public support, the mayor has begun arguing that high-speed connectivity would make it cheaper to install crime-monitoring cameras in violent neighborhoods.
EU

European Parliament Committee Endorses End-To-End Encryption (tomshardware.com) 120

The civil liberties committee of the European Parliament has released a draft proposal "in direct contrast to the increasingly loud voices around the world to introduce regulations or weaken encryption," according to an anonymous Slashdot reader. Tom's Hardware reports: The draft recommends a regulation that will enforce end-to-end encryption on all communications to protect European Union citizens' fundamental privacy rights. The committee also recommended a ban on backdoors. Article 7 of the E.U.'s Charter of Fundamental Rights says that E.U. citizens have a right to personal privacy, as well as privacy in their family life and at home. According to the EP committee, the privacy of communications between individuals is also an important dimension of this right...

We've lately seen some EU member states push for increased surveillance and even backdoors in encrypted communications, so there seems to be some conflict here between what the European Parliament institutional bodies may want and what some member states do. However, if this proposal for the new Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications passes, it should significantly increase the privacy of E.U. citizens' communications, and it won't be so easy to roll back the changes to add backdoors in the future.

Security researcher Lukasz Olejnik says "the fact that policy is seriously considering these kind of aspects is unprecedented."
Privacy

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Prepare For The Theft Of Your PC? 262

A security-conscious Slashdot reader has theft insurance -- but worries whether it covers PC theft. And besides the hassles of recreating every customization after restoring from backups, there's also the issue of keeping personal data private. I currently keep important information on a hidden, encrypted partition so an ordinary thief won't get much off of it, but that is about the extent of my preparation... What would you do? Some sort of beacon to let you know where your stuff is? Remote wipe? Online backup?
There's a couple of issues here -- including privacy, data recovery, deterrence, compensation -- each leading to different ways to answer the question: what can you actually do to prepare for the possibility? So use the comments to share your own experiences. How have you prepared for the theft of your PC?
Security

What Happens When Software Companies Are Liable For Security Vulnerabilities? (techbeacon.com) 221

mikeatTB shares an article from TechRepublic: Software engineers have largely failed at security. Even with the move toward more agile development and DevOps, vulnerabilities continue to take off... Things have been this way for decades, but the status quo might soon be rocked as software takes an increasingly starring role in an expanding range of products whose failure could result in bodily harm and even death. Anything less than such a threat might not be able to budge software engineers into taking greater security precautions. While agile and DevOps are belatedly taking on the problems of creating secure software, the original Agile Manifesto did not acknowledge the threat of vulnerabilities as a problem, but focused on "working software [as] the primary measure of progress..."

"People are doing exactly what they are being incentivized to do," says Joshua Corman, director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative for the Atlantic Council and a founder of the Rugged Manifesto, a riff on the original Agile Manifesto with a skew toward security. "There is no software liability and there is no standard of care or 'building code' for software, so as a result, there are security holes in your [products] that are allowing attackers to compromise you over and over." Instead, almost every software program comes with a disclaimer to dodge liability for issues caused by the software. End-User License Agreements (EULAs) have been the primary way that software makers have escaped liability for vulnerabilities for the past three decades. Experts see that changing, however.

The article suggests incentives for security should be built into the development process -- with one security professional warning that in the future, "legal precedent will likely result in companies absorbing the risk of open source code."
The Military

Pentagon Cyberweapons 'Disappointing' Against ISIS (nytimes.com) 118

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times: It has been more than a year since the Pentagon announced that it was opening a new line of combat against the Islamic State, directing Cyber Command, then six years old, to mount computer-network attacks... "In general, there was some sense of disappointment in the overall ability for cyberoperations to land a major blow against ISIS," or the Islamic State, said Joshua Geltzer, who was the senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council until March. "This is just much harder in practice than people think..."

Even one of the rare successes against the Islamic State belongs at least in part to Israel, which was America's partner in the attacks against Iran's nuclear facilities. Top Israeli cyberoperators penetrated a small cell of extremist bombmakers in Syria months ago, the officials said. That was how the United States learned that the terrorist group was working to make explosives that fooled airport X-ray machines and other screening by looking exactly like batteries for laptop computers... The information helped prompt a ban in March on large electronic devices in carry-on luggage on flights from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries to the United States and Britain.

Citing military officials, the Times also reports that "locking Islamic State propaganda specialists out of their accounts -- or using the coordinates of their phones and computers to target them for a drone attack -- is now standard operating procedure."
Government

Snowden's Former Employer Under Criminal Investigation For Fraudulent Billing (boozallen.com) 43

McGruber writes: Booz Allen Hamilton, the contracting firm that was Edward Snowden's employer when he leaked classified information from the NSA has announced that it is under a federal civil and criminal investigation of its billing practices. The disclosure in a regulatory filing sent shares of parent company Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. tumbling $7.33, or 18.6 percent, to $32 in Friday trading.
The Almighty Buck

Air Force Budget Reveals How Much SpaceX Undercuts Launch Prices (arstechnica.com) 97

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In 2014, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report on cost estimates for the U.S. Air Force's program to launch national security payloads, which at the time consisted of a fleet of rockets maintained and flown entirely by United Launch Alliance (ULA). The report was critical of the non-transparent nature of ULA's launch prices and noted that the government "lacked sufficient knowledge to negotiate fair and reasonable launch prices" with the monopoly. At around the same time, the new space rocket company SpaceX began to aggressively pursue the opportunity to launch national security payloads for the government. SpaceX claimed to offer a substantially lower price for delivering satellites into various orbits around Earth. But because of the lack of transparency, comparing prices was difficult. The Air Force recently released budget estimates for fiscal year 2018, and these include a run out into the early 2020s. For these years, the budget combines the fixed price rocket and ELC contract costs into a single budget line. (See page 109 of this document). They are strikingly high. According to the Air Force estimate, the "unit cost" of a single rocket launch in fiscal year 2020 is $422 million, and $424 million for a year later. SpaceX sells basic commercial launches of its Falcon 9 rocket for about $65 million. But, for military launches, there are additional range costs and service contracts that add tens of millions of dollars to the total price. It therefore seems possible that SpaceX is taking a loss or launching at little or no profit to undercut its rival and gain market share in the high-volume military launch market. Elon Musk retweeted the article, adding "$300M cost diff between SpaceX and Boeing/Lockheed exceeds avg value of satellite, so flying with SpaceX means satellite is basically free."
Security

Firm Responsible For Mirai-Infected Webcams Hires Software Firm To Make Its Products More Secure (securityledger.com) 18

chicksdaddy writes from a report via The Security Ledger: After seeding the globe with hackable DVRs and webcams, Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co., Ltd. of Hangzhou, China will be working with the U.S. firm Synopsys to "enhance the security of its Internet of Things (IoT) devices and solutions." Dahua, based in Hangzhou, China said it will with Mountain View based Synopsys to "enhance the security of its Internet of Things (IoT) devices and solutions." In a joint statement, the companies said Dahua will be adopting secure "software development life cycle (SDLC) and supply chain" practices using Synopsys technologies in an effort to reduce the number of "vulnerabilities that can jeopardize our products," according to a statement attributed to Fu Liquan, Dahua's Chairman, The Security Ledger reports. Dahua's cameras and digital video recorders (DVRs) figured prominently in the Mirai botnet, which launched massive denial of service attacks against websites in Europe and the U.S., including the French web hosting firm OVH, security news site Krebsonsecurity.com and the New Hampshire based managed DNS provider Dyn. Cybercriminals behind the botnet apparently exploited an overflow vulnerability in the web interface for cameras and DVRs to gain access to the underlying Linux operating system and install the Mirai software, according to research by the firm Level3. In March, Dahua was called out for another, serious vulnerability in eleven models of video recorders and IP cameras. Namely: a back door account that gave remote attackers full control of vulnerable devices without the need to authenticate to the device. The flaw was first disclosed on the Full Disclosure mailing list and described as "like a damn Hollywood hack, click on one button and you are in."
Piracy

Alleged KickassTorrents Owner Considers 'Voluntary Surrender' To the US (torrentfreak.com) 59

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Earlier this year a Polish court ruled that Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of the defunct torrent site KickassTorrents, can be extradited to the United States. The decision came as a disappointment to the defense team, which quickly announced an appeal. Vaulin has since been released on bail and currently resides in a Warsaw apartment. His release has made it easier to communicate with his attorneys in the United States, who have started negotiations with the U.S. Government. While the extradition appeal is still ongoing, it now appears that under the right conditions Vaulin might consider traveling to the United States voluntarily, so he can "resolve" the pending charges. This is what the defense team states in a motion for a status conference (pdf), which was submitted earlier this week.
Australia

Movie Piracy Cost Australian Network 'Hundreds of Millions of Dollars' (theaustralian.com.au) 119

Film television piracy and illegal downloads are partly to blame for Australian broadcaster Ten Network's woes, according to Village Roadshow co-chief executive Graham Burke. From a report: He said piracy had cost Ten "hundreds of millions of dollars" in potential advertising revenue because of lower ratings resulting from pirated versions of films supplied by 21st Century Fox under an onerous output deal with the Hollywood studio. He said copies of Fox's Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Revenant and The Peanuts Movie were stolen last year and shared illegally via a piracy website. "Piracy is a much bigger channel and an illicit economy than the three main commercial networks combined. It is ripping off viewers from legitimate, taxpaying enterprises," Mr Burke said. "The product that Ten is buying from 21st Century Fox and is now arriving have been pirated out of sight."
Facebook

Facebook Exposes Employee Data To Terrorists (theguardian.com) 50

An anonymous reader writes: The Guardian is reporting that Facebook accidentally exposed the personal information of the moderators that remove terrorist content to the groups that posted that very content. From the article it looks like 6 of them actually had their profiles viewed. From the article, "The security lapse affected more than 1,000 workers across 22 departments at Facebook who used the company's moderation software to review and remove inappropriate content from the platform, including sexual material, hate speech and terrorist propaganda."

What are Facebook's responsibilities here?


Government

Putin Claims Russia Proposed a Cyber War Treaty In 2015 But the Obama Admin Ignored Them (qz.com) 193

An anonymous reader writes: Russian president Vladimir Putin (who denies any Russian part in the hacking) claims the Obama administration ignored a proposal in 2015 that might have avoided all of this. His administration suggested working out a cyber treaty with the US but was ignored by Obama officials, Putin told film director Oliver Stone in Showtime's four-part series broadcast this week. "A year and a half ago, in fall 2015, we made proposal to our American partners that we work through these issues and conclude a treaty on the rules of behavior in this sphere," he said in Stone's documentary The Putin Interviews. "The American side was silent, they didn't reply to us."
Google

EU Poised To Fine Google More Than $1 Billion in Antitrust Case (marketwatch.com) 102

Google is braced for a fine of potentially more than 1bn euro ($1.18 billion) as Brussels prepares to make the first of three antitrust decisions on the search group's practices, the first sanction by a leading competition regulator on the way it operates. From a report: The penalty, expected to be announced in the coming weeks, could exceed the record 1.1 billion euro bill slapped on Intel, in 2009 for anti-competitive behavior in the computer-chip market, the two people told The Times. The European Commission's antitrust body declined to comment to MarketWatch on the FT report, but referred to the latest steps taken in the case against Google. In July last year, the commission reiterated its conclusion that the search giant had "abused its dominant position by systematically favoring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages." Google and its parent company Alphabet were then given 10 weeks to respond to the findings. Reuters reported last month that Google had attempted to settle the dispute with the EU three times in the last six years, but the sides had failed to reach a compromise.
Patents

Amazon Granted a Patent That Prevents In-Store Shoppers From Online Price Checking (theverge.com) 465

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Amazon's long been a go-to for people to online price compare while shopping at brick-and-mortars. Now, a new patent granted to the company could prevent people from doing just that inside Amazon's own stores. The patent, titled "Physical Store Online Shopping Control," details a mechanism where a retailer can intercept network requests like URLs and search terms that happen on its in-store Wi-Fi, then act upon them in various ways. The document details in great length how a retailer like Amazon would use this information to its benefit. If, for example, the retailer sees you're trying to access a competitor's website to price check an item, it could compare the requested content to what's offered in-store and then send price comparison information or a coupon to your browser instead. Or it could suggest a complementary item, or even block content outright. Amazon's patent also lets the retailer know your physical whereabouts, saying, "the location may be triangulated utilizing information received from a multitude of wireless access points." The retailer can then use this information to try and upsell you on items in your immediate area or direct a sales representative to your location.
Bug

Trump Orders Government To Stop Work On Y2K Bug, 17 Years Later (bloomberg.com) 460

The federal government will finally stop preparing for the Y2K bug, seventeen years after it came and went. Yes, you read that right. Bloomberg reports: The Trump administration announced Thursday that it would eliminate dozens of paperwork requirements for federal agencies, including an obscure rule that requires them to continue providing updates on their preparedness for a bug that afflicted some computers at the turn of the century. As another example, the Pentagon will be freed from a requirement that it file a report every time a small business vendor is paid, a task that consumed some 1,200 man-hours every year. Seven of the more than 50 paperwork requirements the White House eliminated on Thursday dealt with the Y2K bug, according to a memo OMB released. Officials at the agency estimate the changes could save tens of thousands of man-hours across the federal government. The agency didn't provide an estimate of how much time is currently spent on Y2K paperwork, but Linda Springer, an OMB senior adviser, acknowledged that it isn't a lot since those requirements are already often ignored in practice.

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