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  • Wired Profiles John Brooks, the Programmer Behind Ricochet

    wabrandsma writes with this excerpt from Wired: John Brooks, who is just 22 and a self-taught coder who dropped out of school at 13, was always concerned about privacy and civil liberties. Four years ago he began work on a program for encrypted instant messaging that uses Tor hidden services for the protected transmission of communications. The program, which he dubbed Ricochet, began as a hobby. But by the time he finished, he had a full-fledged desktop client that was easy to use, offered anonymity and encryption, and even resolved the issue of metadata—the "to" and "from" headers and IP addresses spy agencies use to identify and track communications—long before the public was aware that the NSA was routinely collecting metadata in bulk for its spy programs. The only problem Brooks had with the program was that few people were interested in using it. Although he'd made Ricochet's code open source, Brooks never had it formally audited for security and did nothing to promote it, so few people even knew about it.

    Then the Snowden leaks happened and metadata made headlines. Brooks realized he already had a solution that resolved a problem everyone else was suddenly scrambling to fix. Though ordinary encrypted email and instant messaging protect the contents of communications, metadata allows authorities to map relationships between communicants and subpoena service providers for subscriber information that can help unmask whistleblowers, journalists's sources and others.

    48 comments | yesterday

  • Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set

    Jason Koebler writes Over the last couple of weeks, people have been flying drones over Pinewood Studios, where Star Wars Episode VII is being filmed. That made waves last week, but, perhaps most interestingly, the studio ordered a "DroneShield" back in June anticipating the drone problem. According to the company, a DroneShield can provide email and SMS warnings if it detects a helicopters or drone. In any case, the folks over at DroneShield say that Pinewood Studios never actually got the product: The State Department keeps close tabs on products like these that are shipped overseas, and the company's export application still hasn't gone through.

    136 comments | 2 days ago

  • Mystery Signal Could Be Dark Matter Hint In ISS Detector

    astroengine writes Analysis of 41 billion cosmic rays striking the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle detector aboard the International Space Station shows an unknown phenomena that is "consistent with a dark matter particle" known as a neutralino, researchers announced Thursday. Key to the hunt is the ratio of positrons to electrons and so far the evidence from AMS points in the direction of dark matter. The smoking gun scientists look for is a rise in the ratio of positrons to electrons, followed by a dramatic fall — the telltale sign of dark matter annihilating the Milky Way's halo, which lies beyond its central disk of stars and dust. However, "we have not found the definitive proof of dark matter," AMS lead researcher Samuel Ting, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CERN in Switzerland, wrote in an email to Discovery News. "Whereas all the AMS results point in the right direction, we still need to measure how quickly the positron fraction falls off at the highest energies in order to rule out astrophysical sources such as pulsars." But still, this new finding is a tantalizing step in the dark matter direction.

    55 comments | 4 days ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives

    An anonymous reader writes I use email to communicate with my folks overseas. Their ISP only allows dial-up access to their email account (there is no option of changing ISP), that can receive messages no larger than 1MB nor hold more than 15MB (no hope of changing that either). They are computer-illiterate, click on everything they receive, and take delight on sending their information to any Nigerian prince that contacts them, "just in case this one is true". Needless to say, their PC is always full of viruses and spyware. In my next yearly visit, instead of just cleaning it up, I'd like to gift them with some "hardened" PC to use for email only that would hopefully last the year before someone has to fix it. So far, these are the things I have in mind:

    • Some kind of linux distro, or maybe even mac. Most viruses over there are windows only and propagate via Autorun.inf or by email attachments, not having Windows could prevent both.
    • Some desktop environment that hides anything unrelated to connecting to the net and accessing their account (dial-up software, email client, web browser, exchanging files between their hard disk/email attachments and USB drives). By "hide", I just want the rest to be out of the way, but not entirely removed, so that if necessary, I can guide them over the phone. For this, Ubuntu's Unity seems like a particularly bad solution, but a Gnome desktop with non-removable desktop shortcuts (is this possible?) for the file manager, browser, email client and dial-up program could work. An android system is unlikely to work (they have no wifi, and they were utterly confused with Android's UI).
    • This could be a life saver: some kind of extension to the email client that executes commands on specially formatted emails (e.g., signed with my private key), so that I can do some basic diagnostics or install extra software if I have to. This las point is important: they currently rely on acquaintances who may not be competent (they can't evaluate that) if something happens between my visits. They, most likely, wont know how to deal with anything non-windows, so all tech support would fall on me. (This is the reason I haven't moved them from windows yet.)
    • Another very useful extension would be something to automatically re-assemble attachments split into several emails, to overcome the 1MB message limit.

    Does any of that exist? If I have to build that system myself (or parts of it), do you have other suggestions? For the inevitable and completely reasonable suggestion of getting someone competent for tech support: I've tried that too. The competent ones don't last beyond the third visit.

    334 comments | 5 days ago

  • Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

    Apple CEO Tim Cook insists that Apple doesn't read -- in fact, says Cook, cannot read -- user's emails, and that the company's iCloud service wasn't hacked. ZDNet presents highlights from Cook's lengthy, two-part interview with Charlie Rose. One selection of particular interest: Apple previously said that even it can't access iMessage and FaceTime communications, stating that such messages and calls are not held in an "identifiable form." [Cook] claimed if the government "laid a subpoena," then Apple "can't provide it." He said, bluntly: "We don't have a key... the door is closed." He reiterated previous comments, whereby Apple has said it is not in the business of collecting people's data. He said: "When we design a new service, we try not to collect data. We're not reading your email." Cook went on to talk about PRISM in more detail, following the lead from every other technology company implicated by those now-infamous PowerPoint slides.

    191 comments | about a week ago

  • Malware Distributed Through Twitch Chat Is Hijacking Steam Accounts

    An anonymous reader writes If you use Twitch don't click on any suspicious links in the video streaming platform's chat feature. Twitch Support's official Twitter account issued a security warning telling users not to click the "csgoprize" link in chat. According to f-secure, the link leads to a Java program that asks for your name and email. If you provide the info it will install a file on your computer that's able to take out any money you have in your Steam wallet, as well as sell or trade items in your inventory. "This malware, which we call Eskimo, is able to wipe your Steam wallet, armory, and inventory dry," says F-Secure. "It even dumps your items for a discount in the Steam Community Market. Previous variants were selling items with a 12 percent discount, but a recent sample showed that they changed it to 35 percent discount. Perhaps to be able to sell the items faster."

    53 comments | about a week ago

  • Amazon Is Killing Off Its Free P2P Money-Transfer Service WebPay On October 13

    An anonymous reader writes: Amazon WebPay, a free online money-transfer service, is shutting down October 13, 2014. This means you'll no longer be able to send, receive, or request money using just your email address and the Amazon Payments webpage. There were hints back in June that the service would be going away soon. Amazon sent out an email this week to active Amazon Payments account users notifying them it is pulling the plug.

    34 comments | about two weeks ago

  • German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

    jfruh writes If you send an email to support-de@google.com, Google's German support address, you'll receive an automatic reply informing you that Google will not respond to or even read your message, due to the large number of emails received at that address. Now a German court has ruled (PDF) that this is an unacceptable response, based on a German law saying that companies must provide a means for customers to communicate with them. Update: 09/12 15:47 GMT by S : Updated to fix the links.

    290 comments | about two weeks ago

  • UK Ham Radio Reg Plans To Drop 15 min Callsign Interval and Allow Encryption

    First time accepted submitter product_bucket writes A consultation published by the UK Radio Regulator Ofcom seeks views on its plan to remove the mandatory 15 minute callsign identifier interval for amateur radio licensees. The regulator also intends to permit the use of encryption by a single volunteer emergency communications organization. The consultation is open until 20th October, and views are sought by interested parties.

    104 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Journal Published Flawed Stem Cell Papers Despite Serious Misgivings About Work

    sciencehabit writes: As two discredited, and now retracted, stem cell papers have produced an almost unimaginable fallout — a national hero accused of scientific fraud, the revamping of one of Japan's major research institutes, and the suicide of a respected cell biologist — researchers have privately and publicly asked how Nature could have published work that, in retrospect, seems so obviously flawed. Another piece of the puzzle has now come to light. The Science news team received a copy of email correspondence between a Nature editor and Haruko Obokata, the lead author of the papers, which indicates the work initially received as rocky a reception there as at two other journals, Cell and Science, that had rejected the work previously. The email, dated 4 April 2013, includes detailed separate criticisms of the two papers and suggestions for new data to support the authors' claims of a simple and novel way to make stem cells that could form the myriad cell types within a body. The Nature editor rejected the papers, but left open a window, writing, "Should further experimental data allow you to address these criticisms, we would be happy to look at a revised manuscript." The two papers were published 10 months later.

    35 comments | about two weeks ago

  • 5 Million Gmail Passwords Leaked, Google Says No Evidence Of Compromise

    kierny writes After first appearing on multiple Russian cybercrime boards, a list of 5 million Google account usernames — which of course double as email usernames — are circulating via file-sharing sites. Experts say the information most likely didn't result from a hack of any given site, including Google, but was rather amassed over time, likely via a number of hacks of smaller sites, as well as via malware infections. Numerous commenters who have found their email addresses included in the list of exposed credentials say the included password appears to date from at least three years ago, if not longer. That means anyone who's changed their Google/Gmail password in the last three years is likely safe from account takeover.

    203 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Microsoft Agrees To Contempt Order So It Can Appeal Email Privacy Case

    An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft made news some weeks ago for refusing to hand over customer emails stored on its Dublin, Ireland servers to the U.S. government. The district judge presiding over the case agreed with the government and ordered Microsoft to comply with its demands. On Monday, Microsoft struck a deal with the U.S. government in which the company would be held on contempt charges but would not be penalized for it until after the outcome of an appeal. The district judge endorsed the agreement (PDF) on Thursday.

    123 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Satoshi Nakamoto's Email Address Compromised

    ASDFnz writes: Satoshi Nakamoto, the respected (and currently missing) inventor of Bitcoin, seems to have had his email address compromised by an unknown agent. Satoshi exclusively used one email address when he was active in the Bitcoin community: satoshin@gmx.com. If you have a look at the original Bitcoin whitepaper (PDF), you will find it there at the top just under the title. He also usually signed his correspondence with his PGP signature. Earlier today, the head administrator of Bitcointalk, Theymos, received an email from Satoshi's email address that appeared to originate from GMX's servers. Theymos made a post on the Bitcointalk forums saying he had received an email from the address without Satoshi's PGP signature. Later, the unknown agent posted to other Satoshi accounts.

    65 comments | about two weeks ago

  • L.A. Times National Security Reporter Cleared Stories With CIA Before Publishing

    New submitter Prune (557140) writes with a link to a story at The Intercept which might influence the way you look at media coverage of the kind of government activity that deserves rigorous press scrutiny. According to the story, "Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times." Another telling excerpt: On Friday April 27, 2012, he emailed the press office a draft story that he and a colleague, David Cloud, were preparing. The subject line was “this is where we are headed,” and he asked if “you guys want to push back on any of this.” It appears the agency did push back. On May 2, 2012, he emailed the CIA a new opening to the story with a subject line that asked, “does this look better?” The piece ran on May 16, and while it bore similarities to the earlier versions, it had been significantly softened.

    188 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Shadowy Tech Brokers Deliver Data To the NSA

    An anonymous reader notes an article about a group of companies whose business is to wiretap various ISPs (with permission) to gather data in response to federal subpoenas. Many smaller ISPs don't have the resources to deal with the flood of data requests from agencies like the NSA, so they outsource compliance and collection in order to keep costs down. The article profiles one of these companies, called Neustar: Neustar can in many cases execute the warrant from anywhere within the U.S., keeping within the bounds of the country's surveillance law. But when a wiretap device is needed, they are not hard to come by. Most networking equipment makers sell devices that can be used to collect data, or used to inspect data — so-called deep-packet inspection devices, which can also be used to prevent piracy, the spread of malware, and website access, all at the Internet provider level. Once a FISA warrant is issued, so-called "tasking" orders, which contain selectors — like a phone number or an email address — are often sent electronically to the ISP. These tell the ISP or phone company, or third-parties like Neustar, exactly where to wiretap and what data to collect to hand back to the requesting authority.

    35 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Why Munich Will Stick With Linux

    Jason Hibbets writes: "There are many solved problems in open source. Groupware is not one of them," Georg Greve, co-founder and CEO of Kolab System starts off his post highlighting recent features of the latest release of the Kolab groupware project. He calls out a few newly elected politicians that don't like the current set-up, but says that thousands of users don't have the same experience. "Until today, the city of Munich is using the same stand-alone calendaring and email systems it had used when it was still fully operating on Windows. Updating these systems had a lower priority than the migration to LiMux then. But an upgrade is underway now. And, the solution they chose is agnostic to the desktop platform and will service LiMux and Windows alike. The primary difference made by another migration would likely be due to the perils that come with any migration, such as additional costs and delays. In other words: The very problem used to criticize the LiMux desktop is already being solved."

    185 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Privacy Vulnerabilities In Coursera, Including Exposed Student Email Addresses

    An anonymous reader writes Coursera, the online education platform with over 9 million students, appears to have some serious privacy shortcomings. According to one of Stanford's instructors, 'any teacher can dump the entire user database, including over nine million names and email addresses.' Also, 'if you are logged into your Coursera account, any website that you visit can list your course enrollments.' The attack even has a working proof of concept [note: requires Coursera account]. A week after the problems were reported, Coursera still hasn't fixed them.

    31 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

    Frosty P writes The LA County District Attorney's Office declined to press charges against a sheriff's deputy who was apparently distracted by his mobile digital computer when he fatally struck cyclist and former Napster COO Milton Olin Jr. in Calabasas last December. The deputy was responding to routine work email when he drifted into the bike lane and struck and killed Mr. Olin. An official with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said it is launching its own probe into the deputy’s behavior.

    463 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Microsoft Defies Court Order, Will Not Give Emails To US Government

    schwit1 sends this excerpt from a report about Microsoft: Despite a federal court order directing Microsoft to turn overseas-held email data to federal authorities, the software giant said Friday it will continue to withhold that information as it waits for the case to wind through the appeals process. The judge has now ordered both Microsoft and federal prosecutors to advise her how to proceed by next Friday, September 5.

    Let there be no doubt that Microsoft's actions in this controversial case are customer-centric. The firm isn't just standing up to the US government on moral principles. It's now defying a federal court order. "Microsoft will not be turning over the email and plans to appeal," a Microsoft statement notes. "Everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court. This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen."

    419 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report

    Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes The folks over at The Verge claim that "Uber is arming teams of independent contractors with burner phones and credit cards as part of its sophisticated effort to undermine Lyft and other competitors." Interviews and documents apparently show Uber reps ordering and canceling Lyft rides by the thousands, following a playbook with advice designed to prevent Lyft from flagging their accounts. 'Uber appears to be replicating its program across the country. One email obtained by The Verge links to an online form for requesting burner phones, credit cards, and driver kits — everything an Uber driver needs to get started, which recruiters often carry with them.' Is this an example of legal-but-hard-hitting business tactics, or is Uber overstepping its bounds? The so-called sharing economy seems just as cutthroat — if not more so — than any other industry out there.

    182 comments | about a month ago

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