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Security

Microsoft Widens Edge Browser Bug Hunt For Bounty Hunters (theregister.co.uk) 12

Microsoft said today it is expanding its program for rewarding those who find and report bugs in Edge, its latest web browser, enabling bounty hunters to claim their prize for a broader range of vulnerabilities. The Register adds: The snappily titled "Microsoft Edge Web Platform on Windows Insider Preview Bug Bounty Programme" was launched in August, and enabled anyone to report vulnerabilities they discover in Microsoft Edge in exchange for flippin' great wodges of cash. Now, the firm has expanded the programme, with a focus on vulnerabilities that lead to "violation of W3C standards that compromise privacy and integrity of important user data," or which enable remote code execution by a particular threat vector. Specifically, the bounty programme now covers the following: Same Origin Policy bypass vulnerabilities (such as universal cross-site scripting), Referrer Spoofing vulnerabilities, Remote Code Execution vulnerabilities in Microsoft Edge on Windows Insider Preview, and Vulnerabilities in open source sections of Chakra.
Software

The UK's Largest Sperm Bank Is Now An App (technologyreview.com) 64

Sperm bank? There's an app for that. The largest sperm bank in the United Kingdom -- the London Sperm Bank -- has released an official app that aims to "modernize the process of hooking prospective parents up with the biological material they need to make it happen," according to MIT Technology Review: The app is essentially just a mobile version of the filtered search function the London Sperm Bank offers on its website. But in doing something as simple as bringing its desktop services to mobile devices, the bank is making a play to further normalize reproductive technologies. The London Sperm Bank boasts that users will receive push notifications as soon as new donors are available, which could help speed things up for hopeful parents looking for a match. The road to conception can take years for people using reproductive technologies, so expediting any part of the process would be a welcome time-saver. But the bank has over 10,000 vials of sperm, so searching, even using filters, could still be a lengthy process. To combat this, the app also offers a wish list function that lets more focused users predetermine what they're looking for in a donor, and receive a notification when their criteria are met. The way the service works on mobile has been compared to Tinder, but there's actually no swiping involved. Its wish list function means it's more akin to apps like Anthology, which job seekers use to find their next career move. The report notes that, while there are other mobile sperm bank apps out there, the London Sperm Bank is the only one with several medical associations and the U.K. government's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority on board. Also, the app is free to download, but the cost of ordering sperm is about $1,200 per order, which is the same as if you order through the London Sperm Bank catalogue.
Science

World's First Baby Born With New '3 Parent' Technique (newscientist.com) 198

A five-month-old baby boy has been revealed as the first kid in the world with three biological parents, reports New Scientist. The baby boy was apparently conceived by a technique that has been legally approved in the UK, and lets parents with genetic disorders have healthy babies. Though, the method used in this particular cases was slightly different from one legalized in the UK. From the report: Zhang (a doctor) took a different approach, called spindle nuclear transfer. He removed the nucleus from one of the mother's eggs and inserted it into a donor egg that had had its own nucleus removed. The resulting egg -- with nuclear DNA from the mother and mitochondrial DNA from a donor -- was then fertilised with the father's sperm. Zhang's team used this approach to create five embryos, only one of which developed normally. This embryo was implanted in the mother and the child was born nine months later. "It's exciting news," says Bert Smeets at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. The team will describe the findings at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's Scientific Congress in Salt Lake City in October.
United Kingdom

UK's Top Police Warn That Modding Games May Turn Kids into Hackers (vice.com) 154

Joseph Cox, writing for Motherboard: Last week at EGX, the UK's biggest games event, attendees got a chance to play upcoming blockbusters like Battlefield 1, FIFA 17, and Gears of War 4. But budding gamers may also have spotted a slightly more unusual sight: a booth run by the National Crime Agency (NCA), the UK's leading law enforcement agency. Over the last few years, the NCA has attempted to reach out to technologically savvy young people in different ways. EGX was the first time it's pitched up to a gaming convention; the NCA said it wanted to educate young people with an interest in computers and suggested that those who mod online games in order to cheat may eventually progress to using low level cybercrime services like DDoS-for-hire and could use steering in the right direction. "The games industry can help us reach young people and educate them on lawful use of cyber skills," Richard Jones, head of the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit's 'Prevent' team, told Motherboard in an email. "Through attendance at EGX and various other activities, we are seeking to promote ethical hacking or penetration testing, as well as other lawful uses of an interest in computers to young people," Jones said.
Education

The Ig Nobel Awards Celebrate Their 26th First Annual Awards Ceremony (improbable.com) 36

Thursday Harvard's Sanders Theatre hosted the 26th edition of the humorous research awards "that make people laugh, then think...intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology." One of this year's winners actually lived as a goat, wearing prosthetic extensions on his arms and legs so he could travel the countryside with other goats. Long-time Slashdot reader tomhath writes: The Journal of Improbable announced these winners:

REPRODUCTION PRIZE [EGYPT] -- The late Ahmed Shafik, for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males.

ECONOMICS PRIZE [NEW ZEALAND, UK] -- Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective...

PEACE PRIZE [CANADA, USA] -- Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called 'On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit'...

PERCEPTION PRIZE [JAPAN] -- Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

The Improable Research site lists the rest of this year's 10 winners, as well as every winner for the previous 25 years.
Security

Street Fighter V Update Installed Hidden Rootkits on PCs (theregister.co.uk) 123

Capcom's latest update for Street Fighter V was installing a secret rootkit on PCs. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Register: This means malicious software on the system can poke a dodgy driver installed by Street Fighter V to completely take over the Windows machine. Capcom claims it uses the driver to stop players from hacking...to cheat. Unfortunately, the code is so badly designed, it opens up a full-blown local backdoor... it switches off a crucial security defense in the operating system, then runs whatever instructions are given to it by the application, and then switches the protection back on
Friday Capcom tweeted "We are in the process of rolling back the security measures added to the PC version of Street Fighter V." This prompted one user to reply, "literal rootkits are the opposite of security measures."
The Almighty Buck

Accenture Patents a Blockchain-Editing Tool (techweekeurope.co.uk) 87

A blockchain "produces a permanent ledger of transactions with which no one can tamper," reports TechWeekEurope. "Until now." Slashdot reader Mickeycaskill quotes their report: One of the core principles of Blockchain technology has potentially been undermined by the creation of an editing tool. The company responsible however, Accenture, says edits would only be carried out "under extraordinary circumstances to resolve human errors, accommodate legal and regulatory requirements, and address mischief and other issues, while preserving key cryptographic features..."

Accenture's move to create an editing system will no doubt be viewed by some technology observers as a betrayal of what blockchain technology is all about. But the company insisted it is needed, especially in the financial services industry... "The prototype represents a significant breakthrough for enterprise uses of blockchain technology particularly in banking, insurance and capital markets," said Accenture.

They're envisioning "permissioned" blockchain systems, "managed by designated administrators under agreed governance rules," while acknowledging that cyptocurrency remains a different environment where "immutable" record-keeping would still be essential.
Security

Sad Reality: It's Cheaper To Get Hacked Than Build Strong IT Defenses (theregister.co.uk) 183

It's no secret that more companies are getting hacked now than ever. The government is getting hacked, major corporate companies are getting hacked, and even news outlets are getting hacked. This raises the obvious question: why aren't people investing more in bolstering their security? The answer is, as a report on The Register points out, money. Despite losing a significant sum of money on a data breach, it is still in a company's best interest to not spend on upgrading their security infrastructure. From the report: A study by the RAND Corporation, published in the Journal of Cybersecurity, looked at the frequency and cost of IT security failures in US businesses and found that the cost of a break-in is much lower than thought -- typically around $200,000 per case. With top-shelf security systems costing a lot more than that, not beefing up security looks in some ways like a smart business decision. "I've spent my life in security and everyone expects firms to invest more and more," the report's author Sasha Romanosky told The Reg. "But maybe firms are making rational investments and we shouldn't begrudge firms for taking these actions. We all do the same thing, we minimize our costs." Romanosky analyzed 12,000 incident reports and found that typically they only account for 0.4 per cent of a company's annual revenues. That compares to billing fraud, which averages at 5 per cent, or retail shrinkage (ie, shoplifting and insider theft), which accounts for 1.3 per cent of revenues. As for reputational damage, Romanosky found that it was almost impossible to quantify. He spoke to many executives and none of them could give a reliable metric for how to measure the PR cost of a public failure of IT security systems.
Transportation

Amazon UK Found Guilty Of Airmailing Dangerous Goods (theguardian.com) 56

Amazon UK has been found guilty and fined 65,000 euro for breaking aviation safety laws after repeatedly trying to send dangerous goods by airmail, reports The Guardian. From the article: A judge at Southwark crown court in London said on Friday that Amazon knew the rules, had been warned repeatedly, but had failed to take reasonable care. Although the risks from the goods sent for shipment by air were low, he blamed the breaches on "systemic failure" at the online retailer. As well as the fine, Amazon was ordered to pay 60,000 euro towards prosecution costs. Earlier in the week, the jury found Amazon guilty of breaching rules for shipping dangerous goods by airmail on four counts between November 2013 and May 2015. The prosecution was brought by the Civil Aviation Authority, after a complaint from Royal Mail. Some offences took place after Amazon knew it was under investigation. In each case, the items -- two packages containing laptop lithium batteries and two containing aerosols that used flammable gas propellant -- had been flagged up by Amazon's computer systems as possibly dangerous goods, and subject to restricted shipping rules.
Government

Hacker Leaks Michelle Obama's Passport (nypost.com) 122

The hacker who leaked Colin Powell's private email account last week has struck again. This time they have hacked a low-level White House staffer and released a picture of Michelle Obama's passport, along with detailed schedules for top U.S. officials and private email messages. New York Post reports: The information has been posted online by the group DC Leaks. The White House staffer -- who also apparently does advance work for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign -- is named Ian Mellul. The released documents include a PowerPoint outline of Vice President Joe Biden's recent Cleveland trip, showing his planned route, where he'll meet with individuals and other sensitive information, according to the Daily Mail. In an email to The Post, the hacker writes, "The leaked files show the security level of our government. If terrorists hack emails of White House Office staff and get such sensitive information we will see the fall of our country." The hacker adds, "We hope you will tell the people about this criminal negligence of White House Office staffers."
Hardware

At Least 26 Claimed Galaxy Note 7 Fire Reports Were Untrue, Samsung Says (zdnet.com) 106

Lately, a lot of behind the scene conversations have been suggesting that perhaps the Note 7 battery explosion fiasco has been blown out of the proportion. There's no evidence of any of that, so we won't discuss it any further, but amid all of this, Samsung has confirmed that at least 26 explosion reports that circulated everywhere were hoaxes. From a ZDNet report:Out of the 26 reports, the South Korean tech giant said that in 12 cases they found no fault with the devices. In seven cases, the reported victim could not be reached and in another seven incidents, the consumer cancelled the report or alleged that they threw away the device. In the US, where 1 million devices were recalled, nine such cases were reported. There were three in South Korea, two in France, and one each from the UK, Canada, Singapore, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam, Croatia, Romania, Iraq, Lebanon, the UAE, and Czech Republic. In Korea, a worker at a convenience store alleged online that their phone exploded but Samsung said the person was currently unreachable. The user in Canada used a picture they found of the Note 7 catching fire and posed it as their own, the company said, and in Singapore, a user claimed they threw the handset out of their car when it caught fire but could not show proof.Makes you think doesn't it?
Network

Reddit Brings Down North Korea's Entire Internet (mirror.co.uk) 137

After a North Korean system administrator misconfigured its nameserver allowing anyone to query it and get the list of the domains that exist for .kp, it was revealed that the secretive country only has 28 websites. That's 28 websites for a country with nearly 25 million people. Naturally, the story was published all across the web, including on Reddit, which resulted in a high number of users visiting North Korea's websites. Mirror.co.uk reports: When a list of North Korea's available websites was posted on Reddit, the surge of visitors to the reclusive state's online offering overloaded the servers. North Korea runs a completely locked-down version of the internet that consists of only 28 "websites" that the population is allowed to view. However, a technical slip-up allowed a GitHub user to work their way into the country's computer network and view the websites from the outside. As the GitHub user puts it: "One of North Korea's top level name servers was accidentally configured to allow global [Domain Name System] transfers. This allows anyone who performs [a zone transfer request] to the country's ns2.kptc.kp name server to get a copy of the nation's top level DNS data." Pretty soon, links to all the websites were posted on Reddit, where thousands of visitors took the opportunity to see what the web looks like from Pyongyang. Reddit's surge of traffic isn't the first time North Korea's internet has been knocked out. In 2014, the country suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that was believed to have originated from the U.S. Redditor BaconBakin points out that while North Korea has 28 websites, GTA V has 83 websites. They added, "I think it's safe to say that San Andreas is more technologically advanced than North Korea."
Music

Stop Piracy? Legal Alternatives Beat Legal Threats, Research Shows (torrentfreak.com) 134

An anonymous reader writes: Threatening file-sharers with high fines or even prison sentences is not the best way to stop piracy. New research published by UK researchers shows that perceived risk has no effect on people's file-sharing habits. Instead, the entertainment industries should focus on improving the legal options, so these can compete with file-sharing. Unauthorized file-sharing (UFS) is best predicted by the supposed benefits of piracy. As such, the researchers note that better legal alternatives are the best way to stop piracy. The results are based on a psychological study among hundreds of music and ebook consumers. They were subjected to a set of questions regarding their file-sharing habits, perceived risk, industry trust, and online anonymity. By analyzing the data the researchers found that the perceived benefit of piracy, such as quality, flexibility of use and cost are the real driver of piracy. An increase in legal risk was not directly associated with any statistically significant decrease in self-reported file-sharing.
Microsoft

Lenovo Denies Claims It Plotted With Microsoft To Block Linux Installs (theregister.co.uk) 181

Reader kruug writes: Several users noted certain new Lenovo machines' SSDs are locked in a RAID mode, with AHCI removed from the BIOS. Windows is able to see the SSD while in RAID mode due to a proprietary driver, but the SSD is hidden from Linux installations -- for which such a driver is unavailable. Speaking to The Register today, a Lenovo spokesperson claimed the Chinese giant "does not intentionally block customers using other operating systems on its devices and is fully committed to providing Linux certifications and installation guidance on a wide range of products."
Complaints on Lenovo's forums suggest that users have been unable to install GNU/Linux operating systems on models from the Yoga 900S to the Ideapad 710S, with one 19-page thread going into detail about the BIOS issue and users' attempts to work around it.

Medicine

Microsoft Will 'Solve' Cancer Within The Next 10 Years By Treating It Like A Computer Virus, Says Company (independent.co.uk) 259

Microsoft is serious about finding a cure for cancer. In June, Microsoft researchers published a paper that shows how analyzing online activities can provide clues as to a person's chances of having cancer. They were able to identify internet users who had pancreatic cancer even before they'd been diagnosed, all from analyzing web query logs. Several months later, researchers on behalf of the company now say they will "solve" cancer within the next 10 years by treating it like a computer virus that invades and corrupts the body's cells. The goal is to monitor the bad cells and potentially reprogram them to be healthy again. The Independent reports: The company has built a "biological computation" unit that says its ultimate aim is to make cells into living computers. As such, they could be programmed and reprogrammed to treat any diseases, such as cancer. In the nearer term, the unit is using advanced computing research to try and set computers to work learning about drugs and diseases and suggesting new treatments to help cancer patients. The team hopes to be able to use machine learning technologies -- computers that can think and learn like humans -- to read through the huge amounts of cancer research and come to understand the disease and the drugs that treat it. At the moment, so much cancer research is published that it is impossible for any doctor to read it all. But since computers can read and understand so much more quickly, the systems will be able to read through all of the research and then put that to work on specific people's situations. It does that by bringing together biology, math and computing. Microsoft says the solution could be with us within the next five or ten years.
Businesses

London To Tech Startups: Please Don't Mind the Brexit Gap (cnet.com) 165

An anonymous reader writes: The UK faces a potential economic backlash from its decision to exit the European Union, but London Mayor Sadiq Khan doesn't think tech startups should be worried. Khan on Monday stopped in New York while on a goodwill tour that included visits to Montreal and Chicago. His mission: to win back the hearts of tech companies that may be turned off by Brexit. The breakup looks bleak for tech, with nearly nine out of 10 British tech leaders opposing Brexit before the June vote. And while the effects of Brexit haven't taken hold yet, Khan remains optimistic about London. The British metropolis remains Europe's hub for the technology sector, Khan said, citing a poll commissioned by London & Partners, the mayor's economic promotional company. "London's been open to people, to trade and to ideas for more than a thousand years, and that's not going to change," Khan said Monday at the Chelsea office of workspace company WeWork. The survey reached out to more than 200 US tech executives, who believe London is the best city in which to build a startup in Europe, beating out Berlin, Paris and Dublin. While Brexit means London soon won't have access to the EU's open market across the continent, US tech leaders still choose the city for its "favorable time zones and lack of language barriers," according to a statement from the mayor's office.
Robotics

UK Standards Body Issues Official Guidance On Robot Ethics (digitaltrends.com) 68

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: The British Standards Institution, which is the U.K.'s national standards body charged with creating the technical standards and certification for various products and services, has just produced its first set of official ethics guidelines relating to robots. "The expert committee responsible for this thought there was really a need for a set of guidelines, setting out the ethical principles surrounding how robots are used," Dan Palmer, head of market development at BSI, told Digital Trends. "It's an area of big public debate right now." The catchily-named BS 8611 guidelines start by echoing Asimov's Three Laws in stating that: "Robots should not be designed solely or primarily to kill or harm humans." However, it also takes aim at more complex issues of transparency by noting that: "It should be possible to find out who is responsible for any robot and its behavior." There's even discussion about whether it's desirable for a robot to form an emotional bond with its users, an awareness of the possibility robots could be racist and/or sexist in their conduct, and other contentious gray areas. In all, it's an interesting attempt to start formalizing the way we deal with robots -- and the way roboticists need to think about aspects of their work that extend beyond technical considerations. You can check it out here -- although it'll set you back 158 pounds ($208) if you want to read the BSI guidelines in full. (Is that ethical?) "Robots have been used in manufacturing for a long time," Palmer said. "But what we're seeing now are more robots interacting with people. For instance, there are cases in which robots are being used to give care to people. These are usages that we haven't seen before -- [which is where the need for guidelines comes in.]"
Transportation

Uber Accused of Cashing In On Bomb Explosion By Jacking Rates (thesun.co.uk) 428

After a bomb exploded in Manhattan, leaving 29 injured, people leaving the scene discovered Uber had doubled their fares. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Sun: Traumatized families caught up in the New York bomb blast have accused Uber of cashing in on the tragedy by charging almost double to take them home. Furious passengers have taken to social media to slam the taxi firm in the wake of the blast... Uber reportedly charged between 1.4 and 3 times the standard fare with one city worker saying he had to pay twice as much as usual. Mortgage broker Nick Lalli said: "Just trying to get home from the city and Uber f****** doubled the surge price."
"Demand is off the charts!" the app informed its users, adding "Fares have increased to get more Ubers on the road." Uber soon tweeted that they'd deactivated their surge pricing algorithm for the affected area in Chelsea, "but passengers in other areas of Manhattan said they were still being charged higher than normal fares." One of the affected passengers was Michael Cohen, who is Donald Trump's lawyer, who tweeted that Uber was "taking total advantage of chaos and surcharging passengers 1.4 to 1.8 times." And another Uber user tweeted "I'm disgusted. People are trying to get home safe. Shame on you #DeleteApp."
United Kingdom

Microsoft Will Close Its Skype Office in London, Nearly 400 Jobs To Be Impacted (techcrunch.com) 64

Microsoft is closing Skype's office in the UK, according to the Financial Times. The move is likely to affect jobs of nearly 400 people at the London HQ. Commenting on the report, Microsoft said it will "unify some engineering positions," but that it "will be entering into a consultation process to help those affected by the redundancies." From a TechCrunch report: The London office is a key part of Skype's history, since it was the primary engineering site and headquarters of the company before Microsoft acquired it, and it also survived Skype's strange interlude under the ownership of eBay before it was acquired by the big M. While the move is no doubt a blow to London's tech scene, some former insiders told the FT that it's also not a surprise to see it go, largely because a steady stream of executive departures over the last few years have foretold a shift in the locus of power at the company. Post-acquisition, Microsoft has also done a lot of product work on Skype, with plenty of integration with Office 365 and a number of feature introductions that bring it closer in line with Slack.

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