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Piracy

Cloudflare Faces Lawsuit For Assisting Pirate Sites (torrentfreak.com) 68

An anonymous reader shares a TorrentFreak report: In recent months CloudFlare has been called out repeatedly for offering its services to known pirate sites, including The Pirate Bay. These allegations have now resulted in the first lawsuit after adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan filed a complaint against CloudFlare at a California federal court. [...] Copyright holders are not happy with CloudFlare's actions. Just recently, the Hollywood-affiliated group Digital Citizens Alliance called the company out for helping pirate sites to stay online. Adult entertainment outfit ALS Scan agrees and has now become the first dissenter to take CloudFlare to court. In a complaint filed at a California federal court, ALS describes piracy as the greatest threat to its business. The rise of online piracy has significantly hurt the company's profits, they argue, noting that "pirate" sites are not the only problem. "The problems faced by ALS are not limited to the growing presence of sites featuring infringing content, or 'pirate' sites. A growing number of service providers are helping pirate sites thrive by supporting and engaging in commerce with these sites," ALS writes.
AI

Microsoft Buys AI-Powered Scheduling App Genee (thestack.com) 28

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Microsoft has announced that it has completed its acquisition of artificial intelligence-based scheduling app Genee for an undisclosed amount. The app, which was launched in beta last year, uses natural language processing tools and decision-making algorithms to allow users to schedule appointments without having to consult a calendar. Prior to the acquisition, Genee supported scheduling across Facebook, Twitter, Skype, email, and via SMS. From September 1, Genee will close its own service and will officially join Microsoft, supposedly the Office 365 team. Microsoft believes the addition will help it "further [its] ambition to bring intelligence into every digital experience."
Microsoft

Microsoft Details Its 24-Core 'Holographic Processor' Used In HoloLens (pcworld.com) 108

The processor powering Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality headset has been a mystery -- until now. During the annual Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, California, Microsoft revealed some juicy details about the secretive chip. PCWorld reports: "The HoloLens' HPU is a custom 28nm coprocessor designed by TSMC, The Register reports. The chip packs 24 Tensilica digital signal processor (DSP) cores. As opposed to more general-purpose CPU cores, DSPs are a specialized technology designed for rapidly processing data flowing in from the world -- a no doubt invaluable asset while rendering augmented reality environments in real time. Microsoft's HPU also contains roughly 65 million logic gates, 8MB of SDRAM, and 1GB of traditional DDR3 RAM. It draws less than 10W of power, and features PCIe and standard serial interfaces. The HPU's dedicated hardware is up to 200 times faster than performing the same calculations via software on the less-specialized 14nm Intel Cherry Trail CPU. Microsoft added custom instructions to the DSP cores that allow the HPU to churn through HoloLens-specific tasks even faster, The Register reports. The HPU can perform roughly 1 trillion calculations per second, and the data it passes to the CPU requires little additional processing."
Crime

Turkish Journalist Jailed For Terrorism Was Framed, Forensic Report Shows (vice.com) 95

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Turkish investigative journalist Baris Pehlivan spent 19 months in jail, accused of terrorism based on documents found on his work computer. But when digital forensics experts examined his PC, they discovered that those files were put there by someone who removed the hard drive from the case, copied the documents, and then reinstalled the hard drive. The attackers also attempted to control the journalist's machine remotely, trying to infect it using malicious email attachments and thumb drives. Among the viruses detected in his computer was an extremely rare trojan called Ahtapot, in one of the only times it's been seen in the wild. Pehlivan went to jail in February of 2011, along with six of his colleagues, after electronic evidence seized during a police raid in 2011 appeared to connect all of them to Ergenekon, an alleged armed group accused of terrorism in Turkey. A paper recently published by computer expert Mark Spencer in Digital Forensics Magazine sheds light into the case after several other reports have acknowledged the presence of malware. Spencer said no other forensics expert noticed the Ahtapot trojan in the OdaTV case, nor has determined accurately how those documents showed up on the journalist's computer. However, almost all the reports have concluded that the incriminating files were planted. "We are not guilty," Baris Pehlivan told Andrada Fiscutean via Motherboard. "The files were put into our computers by a virus and by [attackers] entering the OdaTV office secretly. None of us has seen those documents before the prosecutor showed them to us." (OdaTV is the website Pehlivan works for and "has been critical of the government and the Gulen Movement, which was accused by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of orchestrating the recent attempted coup.") In regard to the report, senior security consultant at F-Secure, Taneli Kaivola, says, "Yes, [the report] takes an impressive level of conviction to locally attack a computer four times, and remotely attack it seven times [between January 1, 2011, and February 11, 2011], as well as a certain level of technical skill to set up the infrastructure for those attacks, which included document forgery and date and time manipulation."
Mozilla

Mozilla Is Changing Its Look -- and Asking the Internet For Feedback (arstechnica.com) 224

Megan Geuss, writing for ArsTechnica: Mozilla is trying a rebranding. Back in June, the browser developer announced that it would freshen up its logo and enlist the Internet's help in reaching a final decision. The company hired British design company Johnson Banks to come up with seven new "concepts" to illustrate the company's work. The logos rely on vibrant colors, and several of them recall '80s and '90s style. In pure, nearly-unintelligible marketing speak, Mozilla writes that each new design reflects a story about the company. "From paying homage to our paleotechnic origins to rendering us as part of an ever-expanding digital ecosystem, from highlighting our global community ethos to giving us a lift from the quotidian elevator open button, the concepts express ideas about Mozilla in clever and unexpected ways," Mozilla's Creative Director Tim Murray writes in a blog post. Mozilla is soliciting comment and criticism on the seven new designs for the next two weeks, but this is no Boaty McBoatface situation. Mozilla is clear that it's not crowdsourcing a design, asking anyone to work on spec, or holding a vote over which logo the Internet prefers. It's just asking for comments.
Communications

'Only Voice Memos Can Save Us From the Scourge of Email' (qz.com) 290

Emails are great -- so much so that many believe that it's one of the best inventions of all time. But when you get hundreds of emails everyday, things could get harder to handle. Understandably, many have resorted to alternatives such as Slack, Gchat, and other IM services to offload many of the things they previously did exclusively via emails. An article on Quartz today argues that perhaps voice notes is the best alternative to emails. From their article: There's a solution staring us right in the face: a technological tool that preserves the intimacy of the human voice without requiring people to sync up their schedules. As a number of remote workers, diaspora communities and expats have already discovered, voice notes might just be the answer we've been waiting for. Barcelona-based filmmaker Philippa Young, for example, relies on WhatsApp's voice notes to communicate with her nomadic yet tight-knit team of 15. She sends audio notes throughout the day that range from just a few seconds in length to 10 minutes. The system allows her far-flung coworkers to respond whenever the sun rises in their time zone or they manage to find a stable wifi connection. [...] Voice notes also offer an antidote to one of the primary anxieties of the digital era "the fear that emails, texts and instant messaging rob conversation of emotional nuance, leading to endless misunderstandings and social blunders. "The thing that I really value about it for our team spread out across the world is that when I get a voice note from someone, they've spoken to me and I hear their tone of voice," Young adds. "You can hear in someone's voice how they're feeling."
Android

Verizon Offered To Install Marketers' Apps Directly On Subscribers' Phones (adage.com) 198

According to a report on AdAge, Verizon Wireless is trying to add more bloatware to Android phones by installing apps from other companies in exchange for payment. From the report: The wireless carrier has offered to install big brands' apps on its subscribers' home screens, potentially delivering millions of downloads, according to agency executives who have considered making such deals for their clients. But that reach would come at a cost: Verizon was seeking between $1 and $2 for each device affected, executives said. Verizon started courting advertisers with app installations late last year, pitching retail and finance brands among others, agency executives said. It has only offered the installations on Android phones, because Google's software is open for carriers to customize. Apple controls its platform more tightly. The proposed deals with brands ensure that their apps download to only new devices when consumers activate the phones and their software for the first time.
Businesses

Univision To Buy Gawker Media For $135 Million (recode.net) 137

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: Univision has won the auction for Gawker Media. The TV network and digital publisher has agreed to pay $135 million for the bankrupt blog network, according to a person familiar with the deal. Univision's offer will encompass all seven of Gawker Media's sites, including Gawker.com. Ziff Davis and Univision were the only two bidders for Gawker, which filed for bankruptcy after Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel won a $140 million judgment in a privacy case. Ziff Davis had originally offered $90 million for Gawker Media. Here's a statement from Gawker Media owner Nick Denton: "Gawker Media Group has agreed this evening to sell our business and popular brands to Univision, one of America's largest media companies that is rapidly assembling the leading digital media group for millennial and multicultural audiences. I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership -- disentangled from the legal campaign against the company. We could not have picked an acquirer more devoted to vibrant journalism." The deal won't be official for a bit. For starters, a U.S. bankruptcy court judge needs to sign off on the transaction. When it is final, the judgment funds will be set aside while Gawker appeals its court case; eventually the money will go to the side that wins.
Canada

Canada's Police Chiefs Want New Law To Compel People To Reveal Passwords (www.cbc.ca) 209

Reader DaveyJJ writes: CBC is reporting that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, has passed a resolution calling for a legal measure to unlock digital evidence, saying criminals increasingly use encryption to hide illicit activities. The chiefs are recommending new legislation that would force people to hand over their electronic passwords with a judge's consent. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Joe Oliver is using the usual scare tactics "child-molesters and mobsters live in the 'dark web'" in his statement today to drum up public support in his poorly rationalized privacy-stripping recommendation. A few years ago, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that police must have a judge's order to request subscriber and customer information from ISPs, banks and others who have online data about Canadians. I guess that ruling isn't sitting too well with law enforcement and Canada's domestic spy agencies.
Government

America's NIST Seeks Public Comments on Cybersecurity and Cryptography (thehill.com) 55

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The National Institute of Standards and Technology has its own "Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity," and this week they issued a call for public comments on "current and future challenges" involving critical infrastructure cybersecurity, the concept of cybersecurity insurance, public awareness, and the internet of things (among other topics) for both the private and public sector.
Long-time Slashdot reader Presto Vivace quotes The Hill: it is specifically asking for projections on policies, economic incentives, emerging technologies, useful metrics and other current and potential solutions throughout the next decade... Comments will be due by 5 p.m. on September 9.
Internet services "have come under attack in recent years in the form of identity and intellectual property theft, deliberate and unintentional service disruption, and stolen data," writes NIST. "Steps must be taken to enhance existing efforts to increase the protection and resilience of the digital ecosystem, while maintaining a cyber environment that encourages efficiency, innovation, and economic prosperity."

Separately, NIST is also requesting comments on a new process to "solicit, evaluate, and standardize one or more quantum-resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms... If large-scale quantum computers are ever built, they will be able to break many of the public-key cryptosystems currently in use. This would seriously compromise the confidentiality and integrity of digital communications on the Internet and elsewhere... NIST plans to specify preliminary evaluation criteria for quantum-resistant public key cryptography standards."
The Almighty Buck

Wild Abuse Allegations Taint Indiegogo Helmet Maker Skully (digitaltrends.com) 84

Skully raised $2.4 million on Indiegogo in 2014 to manufacture motorcycle helmets with built-in Augmented Reality. Now they're filing for bankruptcy, and informing customers that refunds are unlikely on their $1,500 pre-ordered helmets. But a lawsuit filed by Skully bookkeeper Isabelle Faithhauer "claims the Wellers used the funds raised by the Indiegogo campaign and a secondary $11 million round of funding in 2015 as their personal 'piggy banks' to buy several motorcycles, two Dodge Vipers, groceries, and so on," according to a Digital Trends article shared by KingGypsy: The Wellers took trips to Bermuda and Hawaii using company funds, she said, went to strip clubs, rented a Lamborghini, and paid for personal housekeeping services on the company credit card, as well as paying out funds ranging from $500 to $80,000. Lastly, she claims that the Wellers asked her to fudge the books to obscure the expenses. Faithhauer claims that when accountants came calling with questions about the expenses, she was up front about what was going on. She says that when she took a pre-approved vacation to Disneyland in December of 2015, she was fired upon her return and offered a severance package, which the suit calls "hush money." She declined the offer.
"Following her termination at Skully, Faithhauer claims that when she found a new job, her new employer contacted the Wellers at Skully and were told she could not be trusted with confidential information. She was fired from that job as well."
Bitcoin

DDoSCoin: New Crypto-Currency Rewards Users For Participating In DDoS Attacks (softpedia.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: "In the most innovative, weirdest, and stupidest idea of the month, two researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Michigan have created a crypto-currency that rewards people for participating in DDoS attacks," reports Softpedia. "Called DDoSCoin, this digital currency rewards a person (the miner) for using their computer as part of a DDoS attack. Just like Bitcoin, DDoSCoin uses cryptographic data to provide a proof-of-work. In DDoSCoin's case, this proof-of-work is extracted from the TLS connection a miner establishes with the website they're supposed to attack." This means that DDoSCoin can be used only with DDoS attacks on TLS-enabled websites. Participating in DDoS attacks gives miners DDoSCoin, which can then be converted in Bitcoin or fiat currency. Furthermore, anyone can request a DDoS attack via the PAY_TO_DDOS transaction. The research paper that proposes DDoSCoin is only a theoretical exercise, and a DDoSCoin crypto-currency does not currently exist in the real world. For now.
DRM

Cory Doctorow On What iPhone's Missing Headphone Jack Means For Music Industry (fastcompany.com) 394

Rumors of Apple's next iPhone missing a headphone jack have been swirling around for more than a year now. But a report from WSJ a few weeks ago, and another report from Bloomberg this week further cemented such possibility. We've talked about it here -- several times -- but now Cory Doctorow is shedding light on what this imminent change holds for the music industry. Reader harrymcc writes: Fast Company's Mark Sullivan talked about the switch with author and EFF adviser Cory Doctorow, who thinks it could lead to music companies leveraging DRM to exert more control over what consumers can do with their music.From the article:"If Apple creates a circumstance where the only way to get audio off its products is through an interface that is DRM-capable, they'd be heartbreakingly naive in assuming that this wouldn't give rise to demands for DRM," said Doctorow. If a consumer or some third-party tech company used the music in way the rights holders didn't like, the rights holders could invoke the anti-circumvention law written in Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Steve Jobs famously convinced the record industry to remove the DRM from music on iTunes; is there really any reason to believe the industry might suddenly become interested in DRM again if the iPhone audio goes all digital? "Yes -- for streaming audio services," Doctorow says. "I think it is inevitable that rights holder groups will try to prevent recording, retransmission, etc." Today it's easy to record streamed music from the analog headphone jack on the phone, and even to convert the stream back to digital and transmit it in real time to someone else. With a digital stream it might not be nearly so easy, or risk-free."Doctorow shares more on BoingBoing.
Security

Samsung Pay Hack Lets Attackers Make Fraudulent Payments (theverge.com) 16

jmcbain writes: The Verge reports that a security researcher at DefCon outlined a number of attacks targeting Samsung Pay, Samsung's digital payment system that runs on their smartphones. According to the article, the attack "[focuses] on intercepting or fabricating payment tokens -- codes generated by the user's smartphone that stand in for their credit card information. These tokens are sent from the mobile device to the payment terminal during wireless purchases. [They expire 24 hours after being generated and are single-use only.]" In a response, Samsung said that "in certain scenarios an attacker could skim a user's payment token and make a fraudulent purchase with their card," but that "the attacker must be physically close to the target while they are making a legitimate purchase."
Crime

Kansas Couple Sues IP Mapping Firm For Turning Their Life Into a 'Digital Hell' (arstechnica.com) 175

Ever since James and Theresa Arnold moved into their rented 623-acre farm in Butler County, Kansas, in March 2011, they have seen "countless" law enforcement officials and individuals turning up at their farm day and night looking for links to alleged theft and other supposed crime. We covered this story on Slashdot a few months ago. All of these people are arriving because of a rounding error on a GPS location, which wrongly points people to their farm. ArsTechnica adds:In their lawsuit filed against MaxMind, the IP mapping firm, the Arnolds allege: "The following events appeared to originate at the residence and brought trespassers and/or law enforcement to the plaintiffs' home at all hours of the night and day: stolen cars, fraud related to tax returns and bitcoin, stolen credit cards, suicide calls, private investigators, stolen social media accounts, fund raising events, and numerous other events." James Arnold has even been "reported as holding girls at the residence for the purpose of making pornographic films."
Australia

Australian Census Website Shut Down On Census Night After 4 DDoS Attacks (smh.com.au) 129

Heart44 writes: News sites are reporting that the Australian census website has been shut down until further notice. This happened on census night, Tuesday (Australian time), August 9th, 2016. This is the first attempt at an online census where [the internet] is the default data collection method. You had to call an often busy number to get a paper form. This is on top of a long running controversy that the Australian Bureau of Statistics will keep the names and addresses of everyone for five years. I presume more useful links will appear over time. "The site was targeted by four denial of service (DoS) attacks," chief statistician David Kalisch told ABC radio. The Sydney Morning Herald reports: "The first three caused minor disruptions and did not stop more than two million census forms from being 'successfully submitted and safely stored,' he said. But the site was shut down after a 'gap' in the system's security measures was found during a fourth attack (AEST), Mr Kalisch said. 'After the fourth attack, which took place just after 7:30pm [on Tuesday AEST], the ABS took the precaution of closing down the system to ensure the integrity of the data,' Mr Kalisch said. 'I can certainly reassure Australians the data they provided is safe,' he said."

UPDATE 8/09/16: Many reports are contradicting Kalisch's claim that the website was shut down from DDoS attacks. User @mhackling on Twitter tweeted a screenshot of Digital Attack Map showing "nothing unusual DDoS wise for Australia and yesterday."
Government

Iran Bans Pokemon Go Over 'Security Concerns' (usatoday.com) 71

An anonymous reader writes: Iran has become the first country to ban Pokemon Go, the mobile game where users (aka Pokemon trainers) roam the physical world in search for digital creatures known as Pokemon. The country cites security concerns for the reason behind the ban. "Any game that wants to operate nationwide in Iran needs to obtain permission from the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, and the Pokemon Go app has not yet requested such a permission," Abolhasan Firouzabadi, the head of Iran's supreme council of virtual space, told the Isna news agency. The Guardian reports that Iranian officials feel that the game can create problems for the country and its people. Iranian authorities use smart filtering software, a system that affects connectivity speeds and in many cases has replaced more traditional mechanisms for blocking internet services, the Guardian reported.
United States

US To Auction $1.6 Million Worth of Bitcoin From Various Cases (reuters.com) 67

An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report: The U.S. government said on Monday it plans to auction over 2,700 bitcoin that were forfeited during several cases, including the prosecution of the creator of the online black market known as Silk Road. The U.S. Marshals Service said that the online auction would be held on Aug. 22, and that potential bidders must register by Aug. 18. The bitcoin are worth about $1.6 million, according to the Bitstamp exchange. The auction is the latest by the Marshals Service of the digital currency. It completed four prior auctions from June 2014 to November 2015 of bitcoin seized during the prosecution of Ross Ulbricht, who authorities say ran Silk Road.
Twitter

Stopping Trolls Is 'Now Life and Death For Twitter', Argues Backchannel (backchannel.com) 637

"This is the year that Twitter's future will be determined," argues Backchannel's editorial director, noting that Twitter's revenue growth is slowing, and "None of the features that cofounder Jack Dorsey has introduced since he returned to the company as CEO last year have succeeded in attracting new users." But Backchannel suggests it's because the trolls "are winning," discouraging new sign-ups and driving existing customers to leave. "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform, and we've sucked at it for years," Twitter's CEO wrote in an internal memo in 2015. Backchannel argues bluntly that Twitter "has a hate problem." New submitter mirandakatz writes: It's been exactly three years since Twitter first promised to solve its harassment problem. In those three years, the company has made countless such promises, introducing dozens of new "fixes" and even going so far as to ban notorious troll Milo Yiannopoulos last month. But still, abuse on Twitter continues, and stopping it is now critical to the platform's future success...
"Twitter did an excellent job of inventing a digital platform for realtime idea exchange, but it has yet to create the feature that allows the community itself to ferret out the abusers..." writes Backchannel. "And if it cannot figure out how to eradicate the harassers, Twitter's other challenges will remain intractable."
Security

Hackers Bring Ethics To Las Vegas (backchannel.com) 33

Steven Levy, who has been extensively covering the world of hackers for decades (fun fact: the first time he wrote about it, the word "hacker" didn't really mean much), is sharing the changing perception about hacker conferences, and hackers themselves. In a newsletter, Backchannel's Levy writes about Black Hat conference: What I find most striking in the coverage of these events is that they are no longer seen as outlaw gatherings, but rather conclaves that form a valuable portion of the digital security mosaic. This is a big change from the long period, beginning in the late 1980s, during which the term "hacker" became synonymous with malfeasants, punks, and criminals. The glorious originals -- people who invented just about everything great we do on computers, including the internet -- were outraged at the denigration of a word that was once a badge of honor. [...]
The hackers who attend those conferences are true to that ethic. There's a core morality to both events, built on privacy, equal access to systems, and personal freedom. There's indignation at poorly built systems. There's contempt at those who see computers and the internet as means of controlling people instead of seeing them as tools of liberation.
So who gets to decide what a hacker is in 2016? The question comes up constantly because the term retains some fuzziness. I'll put aside the unquestioned hacker status of coders and designers who innovate on products and private infrastructure. Blissfully, it's now OK for Silicon Valley geeks to proudly declare themselves hackers, the best example of which is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's naming of his corporate philosophy as "The Hacker Way." But I'm wondering about those people who take the law into their own hands, sometimes not even taking care to limit collateral damage of innocent people. While true hackers generally don't wreak actual destruction, there are some who invade or even tamper with systems for what they consider moral purposes. Some call it hacktivism. Does that mean they are still hackers? That's tough to answer. Hacking into a system doesn't make you a hacker. Using a computer to steal a credit card or a Bitcoin doesn't do it, either. If you work for China and hack into Google; if you work for Russia and hack into the DNC; or if you work for the United States of America and plant a software time bomb in a nuclear centrifuge in Iran -- you are not necessarily a hacker.

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