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Android

Google Reveals What N In Android N Stands For -- Nougat 35

We finally know what N in Android N stands for: Nougat. Google made the announcement on Thursday. The Android maker always names smartphone operating system updates after candies and other sweet treats. The past few versions, for instances, are named Marshmallow, Eclair, Lollipop, and Marshmallow. Naming aside, Android N brings with it a range of interesting features such as multi-window support, better battery efficiency, and the ability to reply to messages straight from the notification. Enthusiasts who own a Nexus 6 or a newer Nexus device, can give a whirl to the preview of Android N on their device. The final version of Android N will be made available later this year.
Facebook

Hacker Takes Over Oculus CEO's Twitter Account, Announces New CEO (techcrunch.com) 20

Another day, another high-profile becoming victim of a hack attack. Somebody managed to find a way into Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe's Twitter account late Wednesday. The hacker, who appears to be a user who goes by the alias "lid" on Twitter changed Iribe's bio and cover photo, and made a couple of interesting "announcements" -- including him becoming the new CEO of Facebook-owned virtual reality company. TechCrunch reports:This is just the latest in a string of tech CEO's having their Twitter accounts compromised, this attack does not appear to be from the same hacker group responsible for the hacks on the accounts of Travis Kalanick, Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg and Dick Costolo. Late Wednesday night, Iribe's Twitter bio temporarily read, "hey its @Lid ... im not testing ya security im just havin a laugh." The hacker told me in a Twitter DM that he accessed the password via last month's MySpace breach, he also said that he also would've managed to access Iribe's email account had he not had two-factor authentication enabled.
Google

Spanish Authorities Raid Google Offices Over Tax (reuters.com) 69

An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report:Spanish officials raided Google's Madrid offices on Thursday in a probe related to its payment of taxes, a person familiar with the matter said, barely a month after the internet company had its headquarters in France searched on suspicion of tax evasion. A spokeswoman for Google said in a brief statement the company complied with fiscal legislation in Spain just as it did in all countries where it operated. The company was working with authorities to answer all questions, the spokeswoman added. Google is under pressure across Europe from politicians and the public upset at how multinationals exploit their presence around the world to minimize their tax bills.
Encryption

US Efforts To Regulate Encryption Have Been Flawed, Government Report Finds (theguardian.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Guardian: U.S. Republican congressional staff said in a report released Wednesday that previous efforts to regulate privacy technology were flawed and that lawmakers need to learn more about technology before trying to regulate it. The 25-page white paper is entitled Going Dark, Going Forward: A Primer on the Encryption Debate and it does not provide any solution to the encryption fight. However, it is notable for its criticism of other lawmakers who have tried to legislate their way out of the encryption debate. It also sets a new starting point for Congress as it mulls whether to legislate on encryption during the Clinton or Trump administration. "Lawmakers need to develop a far deeper understanding of this complex issue before they attempt a legislative fix," the committee staff wrote in their report. The committee calls for more dialogue on the topic and for more interviews with experts, even though they claim to have already held more than 100 such briefings, some of which are classified. The report says in the first line that public interest in encryption has surged once it was revealed that terrorists behind the Paris and San Bernardino attacks "used encrypted communications to evade detection." Congressman Ted Lieu is pushing the federal government to treat ransomware attacks on medical facilities as data breaches and require notifications of patients.
Government

Congressman Wants Ransomware Attacks To Trigger Breach Notifications (onthewire.io) 53

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: A powerful California congressman is pushing the federal government to treat ransomware attacks on medical facilities as data breaches and require notifications of patients. The pressure is coming from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and follows comments from officials at the Department of Health and Human Services about the department's plan to issue guidance to health care organizations about ransomware attacks. The Office for Civil Rights section of HHS, which has responsibility for health information privacy, will provide guidance on how to handle ransomware attacks, and Lieu is eager to ensure that the guidance specifically addresses how ransomware attacks relate to data breach regulations. "I welcome the news of HHS providing guidance to health providers on a matter that threatens so many hospital IT systems. However, we need to make clear that ransomware is not the same as conventional breaches. The threat to patients from ransomware is typically due to the denial of access to their medical records and medical services. Not only could this be a threat to privacy, but it could result in medical complications and deaths if hospitals can't access patient information," Lieu said in a statement. He sent a letter to the deputy director for health information privacy in the Office of Civil Rights at HHS, Deven McGraw, asking him to instruct health organizations and providers to notify patients of an attack if it results in a denial of access to a medical record or a loss of functionality thats necessary to provide patient care. In the past, Lieu has called for a full congressional investigation into the aforementioned widespread flaw in global phone networks that allows hackers to track anyone's location and spy on their phone calls and text messages. He was also one of the first lawmakers to publicly express his pro-encryption view after a federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI break into the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, saying it effectively "forces private-sector companies like Apple to be used as an arm of law enforcement."
Databases

2 Million-Person Terror Database Leaked Online (thestack.com) 133

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Stack: A 2014 version of the World-Check database containing more than 2.2 million records of people with suspected terrorist, organized crime, and corruption links has been leaked online. The World-Check database is administered by Thomson-Reuters and is used by 4,500 institutions, 49 of the world's 50 largest banks and by over 300 government and intelligence agencies. The unregulated database is intended for use as "an early warning system for hidden risk" and combines records from hundreds of terror and crime suspects and watch-lists into a searchable resource. Most of the individuals in the database are unlikely to know that they are included, even though it may have a negative impact on their ability to use banking services and operate a business. A Reddit user named Chris Vickery says he obtained a copy of the database, saying he won't reveal how until "a later time." To access the database, customers must pay an annual subscription charge, that can reach up to $1 million, according to Vice, with potential subscribers then vetted before approval. Vickery says he understands that the "original location of the leak is still exposed to the public internet" and that "Thomas Reuters is working feverishly to get it secured." He told The Register that he alerted the company to the leak, but is still considering whether to publish the information contained in it.
Earth

Scientists Say The Asteroid That Killed The Dinosaurs Almost Wiped Us Out Too (theweek.com) 180

HughPickens.com writes: Conventional wisdom states that mammalian diversity emerged from the ashes of the Cretaceous/Tertiary mass extinction event, ultimately giving rise to our own humble species. But Joshua A. Krisch writes at This Week that the asteroid that decimated the dinosaurs also wiped out roughly 93 percent of all mammalian species. "Because mammals did so well after the extinction, we have tended to assume that it didn't hit them as hard," says Nick Longrich. "However our analysis shows that the mammals were hit harder than most groups of animals, such as lizards, turtles, crocodilians, but they proved to be far more adaptable in the aftermath." Mammals survived, multiplied, and ultimately gave rise to human beings. So what was the great secret that our possum-like ancestors knew that dinosaurs did not? One answer is that early mammals were small enough to survive on insects and dying plants, while large dinosaurs and reptiles required a vast diet of leafy greens and healthy prey that simply weren't available in the lean years, post-impact. So brontosauruses starved to death while prehistoric possums filled their far smaller and less discerning bellies. "Even if large herbivorous dinosaurs had managed to survive the initial meteor strike, they would have had nothing to eat," says Russ Graham, "because most of the earth's above-ground plant material had been destroyed." Other studies have suggested that mammals survived by burrowing underground or living near the water, where they would have been somewhat shielded from the intense heatwaves, post-impact. Studies also suggest that mammals may have been better spread-out around the globe, and so had the freedom to recover independently and evolve with greater diversity. "After this extinction event, there was an explosion of diversity, and it was driven by having different evolutionary experiments going on simultaneously in different locations," Longrich says. "This may have helped drive the recovery. With so many different species evolving in different directions in different parts of the world, evolution was more likely to stumble across new evolutionary paths."
Businesses

DMCA Notices Remove 8,268 Projects On Github In 2015 (torrentfreak.com) 93

An anonymous reader writes: Github's transparency report for 2015 shows that the site received many DMCA notices that removed more than 8,200 projects. "In 2015, we received significantly more takedown notices, and took down significantly more content, than we did in 2014," Github reports. For comparison, the company received only 258 DMCA notices in 2014, 17 of which responded with a counter-notice or retraction. In 2015, they received 505 takedown notices, 62 of which were the subject of counters or withdrawals. TorrentFreak reports: "Copyright holders are not limited to reporting one URL or location per DMCA notice. In fact, each notice filed can target tens, hundreds, or even thousands of allegedly infringing locations." September was a particularly active month as it took down nearly 5,834 projects. "Usually, the DMCA reports we receive are from people or organizations reporting a single potentially infringing repository. However, every now and then we receive a single notice asking us to take down many repositories," Github explains. They are called 'Mass Removals' when more than 100 repositories are asked to be removed. "In all, fewer than twenty individual notice senders requested removal of over 90% of the content GitHub took down in 2015."
Google

Google's 'FASTER' 9000km, 60Tbps Transpacific Fiber Optics Cable Completed (9to5google.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes from a report via 9to5Google: Google and an association of telecom providers have announced that the FASTER broadband cable system that links Japan and the United States is now complete. The system is the fastest of its kind and stretches nearly 9,000 km across the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, starting in Oregon and ending in two landing spots in Japan. The association consists of Google, China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI, Singtel, and supplier NEC Corporation. The estimated construction cost of the project was $300 million in 2014. At 60 terabits per second, FASTER will help "support the expected four-fold increase in broadband traffic demand between Asia and North America." The system uses a six-fiber pair cable and the latest 100Gbps digital coherent optical transmission technology. The service is scheduled to start on June 30, 2016, and will help increase the connectivity between Google's data centers scattered around the globe.
Businesses

FCC Says TV Airwaves Being Sold For Wireless Use Are Worth $86.4 Billion (reuters.com) 69

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday the price of 126 MHz of television airwaves taken from broadcasters to be sold for wireless use in an ongoing auction is $86.4 billion. The FCC disclosed the price in a statement after completing the first part of an auction to repurpose low-frequency wireless spectrum relinquished by television broadcasters. The so-called "broadcast incentive" spectrum auction is one of the commission's most complex and ambitious to date. In this round, called a reverse auction, broadcasters competed to give up spectrum to the FCC for the lowest price. In the next stage, the forward auction, wireless and other companies will bid to buy the airwaves for the highest price. If wireless companies are unwilling to pay $86.4 billion, the FCC may have to hold another round of bidding by broadcasters and sell less spectrum than had been expected, analysts said. The Wall Street Journal points out that $86.4 billion is more than the market cap of T-Mobile and Spring combined. It's roughly double the amount raised in the last FCC auction, where ATT spent $18.2 billion and Verizon spent $10.4 billion. It's highly likely we'll see multiple rounds stretching into 2017 that will eventually match the supply with the demand.
The Courts

Tesla Admits Defeat, Quietly Settles Model X Lawsuit Over Usability Problems (bgr.com) 104

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: We can talk about how innovative Tesla is for days on end. Indeed, there's no disputing the fact that the company, in injecting a bit of Silicon Valley ingenuity into the tried and true auto design process, has completely turned the auto industry on its head. At the same time, Tesla helped kickstart the EV revolution, even causing traditional automakers like Porsche and BMW to start taking electric cars more seriously. But in Tesla's zeal to move extraordinarily quickly, problems have inevitably begun to creep in. Specifically, quality control issues still seem to be plaguing the Model X. According to a recent report, avowed Tesla fan named Barrett Lyon recently returned his Model X and filed a lawsuit against Tesla arguing that the Model X was "rushed" and released before it was ready for sale. Now comes word that Tesla has since quietly settled the lawsuit. "In Lyon's lawsuit," Fortune writes, "he claimed the cars doors opened and closed unpredictably, smashing into his wife and other cars, and that the Model X's Auto-Pilot feature posed a danger in the rain. He also shared a video that shows the car's self-parking feature failing to operate successfully." Tesla's response: "We are committed to providing an outstanding customer experience throughout ownership. As a principle, we are always willing to buy back a car in the rare event that a customer isn't completely happy. Today, the majority of Model X owners are loving their cars."
Network

UK Has Fastest Mobile Internet While US Lags Behind, Says Report (theverge.com) 117

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Content delivery network Akamai says the UK has the best average mobile connection speeds in the world. The State of the Internet report claims that British mobile users were able to get average speeds of 27.9 Mbps when connecting to Akamai's HTTP/S platform in Q1 2016, beating most countries in Europe by an average of more than 10 Mbps, and the United States' average speed by more than 20 Mbps. For comparison, the U.S. had an average connection speed of 5.1 Mbps, which was lower than Turkey, Kenya, and Paraguay, and on par with Thailand. Many European countries more than doubled the average U.S. speed, including Slovakia with 13.3 Mbps, France with 11.5 Mbps, and Germany with 15.7 Mbps. Algeria was only 2.9 Mbps slower than the United States' average with 2.2 Mbps, and they had the lowest average speed of countries included in the report. Akamai says its data shows that regular internet connections have continued to increase in speed, jumping 12 percent from Q4 2015 to 6.3 Mbps in Q1 2016, which is a year-on-year boost of 23 percent. Peak connection speed also rose to 34.7 Mbps, a 6.8 percent increase from the last quarter, and a 14 percent increase year-on-year. In addition, mobile data traffic is rising from just over 3,500 petabytes per month in Q1 2015 to more than 5,500 petabytes per month in the same period this year.
The Internet

ACLU Lawsuit Challenges Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (thestack.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice contending that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act's criminal prohibitions have created a barrier for those wishing to conduct research and anti-discrimination testing online. The ACLU have pursued the matter on behalf of a group of academic researchers, computer scientists and journalists seeking to remove that barrier to allow for third-party testing and research into potential online discrimination. In a public statement the ACLU contend: "The CFAA violates the First Amendment because it limits everyone, including academics and journalists, from gathering the publicly available information necessary to understand and speak about online discrimination."
Advertising

Google's My Activity Reveals How Much It Knows About You (theguardian.com) 103

An anonymous reader writes: Google has released a new section to Google's account settings, called My Activity, which lets users review everything that Google has tracked about their online behavior -- search, YouTube, Chrome, Android, and every other Google service. Best of all, users can edit or delete their tracked behaviors. In addition, the My Activity tools come with new ad preferences. Google is now offering to use its behavioral information to tailer ads shown across the wider non-Google internet and Google's search pages, which until now was purely done through the use of cookies. The difference between Google and other companies that offer ads like Facebook is that Google is making this interest-based advertising extension optional, or opt-in, not opt-out. There are two separate behavioral advertising settings for users to switch on or off: signed in ads and signed out ads. Signed in ads are those on Google services, and signed out ads are those served by Google on third-party sites. However, if you're conscious about your privacy, you'll probably want to stay opted out.
Facebook

Facebook Wins Belgian Court Appeal Over Storing Non-User Data (bloomberg.com) 25

Stephanie Bodoni, and Aoife White reporting for Bloomberg Technology (condensed):Facebook won an appeal against a Belgian privacy ruling that prompted the social network to prevent people without an account from accessing its site within the country. The Brussels Court of Appeal said the nation's data protection authority couldn't prevent Facebook from storing data from non-users in a fight over measures the technology giant says help it combat hacking attacks. "Belgian courts don't have international jurisdiction over Facebook Ireland, where the data concerning Europe is processed," the Brussels court of appeal said in a ruling Wednesday, referring to the company's European headquarters. The court also said there was no urgency to rule on the case since Belgian court proceedings only started in mid-2015 over behavior that started in 2012. Facebook is appealing a ruling that ordered it to stop storing data from people who don't have an account with the social network, or face a 250,000 euro ($277,800) daily fine. Willem Debeuckelaere, president of the Belgian data protection commission, said last year that Facebook's "disrespectful" treatment of users' personal data, without their knowledge, "needs tackling." Facebook said it can now start showing its pages to Belgians who aren't signed up to its service.
Wireless Networking

Wi-Fi Gets Multi-Gigabit, Multi-User Boost With Upgrades To 802.11ac (arstechnica.com) 66

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced its certification program for IEEE 802.11ac Wave 2, a technology that has been around on the market for more than a year. Wave 2 can deliver up to 6.8Gbps and lets an access point interact with more than one device at a time. Wave 2 features MIMO (or MU-MIMO) which improves the MIMO technology that lets Wi-FI transmit over more than one stream through the air. Wave 2 standard utilizes channels up to 160MHz wide (up from 80MHz channels available with Wave 1). It also creates more spatial streams and uses spectrum more efficiently, the industry group said on Wednesday. Ars Technica adds:On top of MU-MIMO, wider channels, and more streams, the Wi-Fi Alliance says Wave 2 features now being certified bring "support for a greater number of available channels in 5GHz," a change that "makes more efficient use of available spectrum and reduces interference and congestion by minimizing the number of networks operating on overlapping channels." You may have already noticed routers supporting some of these features, since the specification details have been available for a few years. In fact, routers with MU-MIMO started appearing in July 2014, and you can find routers that use 160MHz channels. The certification program takes a while to catch up with real-world implementations, but it ensures compatibility between devices and may spur faster adoption by vendors. End-user devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops must also be updated to take advantage of new features such as MU-MIMO.
Facebook

Facebook Tweaks Its Newsfeed To Better Showcase Posts From Friends Instead Of Publishers (betanews.com) 42

Facebook announced on Wednesday that it is making some changes to its algorithm that powers the News Feed to better showcase posts from friends and family members over posts from publishers. Mark Wilson, writing for BetaNews:The problem we currently face, Facebook says, is that there is "far too much information for any one person to consume." This is where algorithms come into play, meddling with timelines and newsfeeds in ways that never please everyone. The latest change promises that content from "the friends you care about" will appear "higher up in your News Feed."The move comes as Facebook struggles to get people to interact and post more on its social network.

This is yet another blow to publishers that rely heavily on social media exposure. In recent years, Facebook has not only downranked stories that have misleading and unclear headlines but also cut the traffic it was once sending publishers' way. It is worth pointing out that these events have happened in the lights of Facebook launching its own publishing network called Instant Articles on the social media and encouraging publishers to directly publish on its platform instead of their respective websites.
Microsoft

Microsoft Kills Windows 10's Messaging Everywhere Texts, To Bolster Skype (pcworld.com) 116

Reader tripleevenfall writes: The ability to respond to text messages received on your phone with the same app on your PC. It's a dream that's been a reality for Mac users since 2014, and Windows 10 Mobile users were supposed to get the feature, called Messaging Everywhere, with the Anniversary Update rolling out August 2.
But that's not happening anymore. Instead, Microsoft thinks it has a better idea: add Messaging Everywhere to an upcoming version of Skype for Windows 10 PCs.
Microsoft commentator Brad Sams writes, "Skype barely works; let's add new features. Texting from your phone is cool, let's remove it. 0.0% people want this."
Security

Android Malware Pretends To Be WhatsApp, Uber and Google Play (fireeye.com) 57

Reader itwbennett writes: Security vendor FireEye said on Tuesday that malware that can spoof the user interfaces of Uber, WhatsApp and Google Play has been spreading through a phishing campaign over SMS. Once downloaded, the malware, which has struck Android users in Denmark, Italy and Germany, will create fake user interfaces on the phone as an 'overlay 's top of real apps. These interfaces ask for credit card information and then send the entered data to the hacker.
AI

Satya Nadella Explores How Humans and AI Can Work Together To Solve Society's Greatest Challenges (geekwire.com) 119

In an op-ed for Slate, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has shared his views on AI, and how humans could work together with this nascent technology to do great things. Nadella feels that humans and machines can work together to address society's greatest challenges, including diseases and poverty. But he admits that this will require "a bold and ambition approach that goes beyond anything that can be achieved through incremental improvements to current technology," he wrote. You can read the long essay here. GeekWire has summarized the principles and goals postulated by Nadella. From the article:AI must be designed to assist humanity.
AI must be transparent.
AI must maximize efficiencies without destroying the dignity of people.
AI must be designed for intelligent privacy.
AI needs algorithmic accountability so humans can undo unintended harm.
AI must guard against bias.
It's critical for humans to have empathy.
It's critical for humans to have education.
The need for human creativity won't change.
A human has to be ultimately accountable for the outcome of a computer-generated diagnosis or decision.

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