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ECMAScript 2016: New Version of JavaScript Language Released

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 5:30pm
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Ecma International, the organization in charge of managing the ECMAScript standard, has published the most recent version of the JavaScript language. ECMAScript 2016 (ES7 or JavaScript 7th Edition in the old naming scheme) comes with very few new features. The most important is that JavaScript developers will finally get a "raise to the power" operator, which was mysteriously left out of the standard for 20 years. The operator is **... It will also become much easier to search for data in a JavaScript array with Array.prototype.includes(), but support for async functions (initially announced for ES2016), has been deferred until next year's release. "From now on, expect smaller changelogs from the ECMAScript team," reports Softpedia, "since this was the plan set out last year. Fewer breaking changes means more time to migrate code, instead of having to rewrite entire applications, as developers did when the mammoth ES6 release came out last year."

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Ubuntu-Based Peppermint 7 Released

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 3:33pm
Softpedia reports on the newest version of Peppermint OS, "a lightweight, stable, elegant, and fast computer operating system based on GNU/Linux and Open Source technologies." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes their report: It's a bit earlier than expected, but the Peppermint OS 7 GNU/Linux distribution has been officially unveiled...based on the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system [with] a lot of packages from the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS distro, which means that it will also be a long-term support release.... "Along with the shift to the 16.04 (Xenial) code base, Peppermint 7 continues our policy of choosing the best components from other desktop environments, wherever that may be, and integrating them into a cohesive whole with our own software," reads today's announcement. "Team Peppermint" says they're switching to Firefox as their default browser for site-specific browser functionality (similar to Chrome's -app mode) after Google dropped their 32-bit version of Chrome and moved to PPAPI plugins "which effectively ends Flash support in 32-bit Chromium"... But you can also still choose Chrome or Chromium for site-specific browsing (and the OS comes in 32-bit and 64-bit editions).

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Why Are Hackers Increasingly Targeting the Healthcare Industry?

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 2:30pm
Slashdot reader Orome1 shares an article by Bitdefender's senior "e-threat analyst," warning about an increasing number of attacks on healthcare providers: In general, the healthcare industry is proving lucrative for cybercriminals because medical data can be used in multiple ways, for example fraud or identity theft. This personal data often contains information regarding a patient's medical history, which could be used in targeted spear-phishing attacks...and hackers are able to access this data via network-connected medical devices, now standard in high-tech hospitals. This is opening up new possibilities for attackers to breach a hospital or a pharmaceutical company's perimeter defenses. If a device is connected to the internet and left vulnerable to attack, an attacker could remotely connect to it and use it as gateways for attacking network security... The majority of healthcare organizations have often been shown to fail basic security practices, such as disabling concurrent login to multiple devices, enforcing strong authentication and even isolating critical devices and medical data storing servers from a direct internet connection. The article suggests the possibility of attackers tampering with the equipment that dispenses prescription medications, in which case "it is likely that future cyber-attacks could lead to the loss of human life."

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Lenovo Warns Users To Upgrade Pre-Installed Tool With Severe Security Holes

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 1:33pm
Long-time Slashdot reader itwbennett writes: Lenovo is advising users to upgrade to version 3.3.003 of Lenovo Solution Center (LSC), which includes fixes for two high-severity vulnerabilities in the tool. [The tool] allows users to check their system's virus and firewall status, update their Lenovo software, perform backups, check battery health, get registration and warranty information and run hardware tests. The CVE-2016-5249 vulnerability allows an attacker who already has control of a limited account on a PC to execute malicious code via the privileged LocalSystem account. And the CVE-2016-5248 vulnerability allows any local user to send a command to LSC.Services.SystemService in order to kill any other process on the system, privileged or not.

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Crypto Ransomware Attacks Have Jumped 500% In The Last Year

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 12:30pm
Kaspersky Lab is reporting that the last year saw a 500% increase in the number of users who encountered crypto ransomware. Trailrunner7 shares an article from On The Wire: Data compiled by Kaspersky researchers from the company's cloud network shows that from April 2015 to March 2016, the volume of crypto ransomware encountered by users leapt from 131,111 to 718,536. That's a massive increase, especially considering the fact that ransomware is a somewhat mature threat. It didn't just burst onto the scene a couple of years ago. Kaspersky's researchers said the spike in crypto ransomware can be attributed to a small group of variants. "Looking at the malware groups that were active in the period covered by this report, it appears that a rather short list of suspects is responsible for most of the trouble caused by crypto-ransomware..." It's difficult to overstate how much of an effect the emergence of ransomware has had on consumers, enterprises, and the security industry itself. The FBI has been warning users about crypto ransomware for some time now, and has consistently advised victims not to pay any ransoms. Security researchers have been publishing decryption tools for specific ransomware variants and law enforcement agencies have had some success in taking down ransomware gangs. Enterprise targets now account for 13% of ransomware attacks, with attackers typically charging tens of thousands of dollars, the article reports, and "Recent attacks on networks at the University of Calgary and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have demonstrated the brutal effectiveness of this strategy."

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Why You Should Stop Using Telegram Right Now

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 11:30am
Earlier this week, The Intercept evaluated the best instant messaging clients from the privacy standpoint. The list included Facebook's WhatsApp, Google's Allo, and Signal -- three apps that employ end-to-end encryption. One popular name that was missing from the list was Telegram. A report on Gizmodo sheds further light on the matter, adding that Telegram is riddled with a wide range of security issues, and "doesn't live up to its proclamations as a safe and secure messaging application." Citing many security experts, the report states:One major problem Telegram has is that it doesn't encrypt chats by default, something the FBI has advocated for. "There are many Telegram users who think they are communicating in an encrypted way, when they're not because they don't realize that they have to turn on an additional setting," Christopher Soghoian, Principal Technologist and Senior Policy Analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Gizmodo. "Telegram has delivered everything that the government wants. Would I prefer that they used a method of encryption that followed industry best practices like WhatsApp and Signal? Certainly. But, if it's not turned on by default, it doesn't matter."The other issue that security experts have taken a note of is that Telegram employs its own encryption, which according to them, "is widely considered to be a fatal flaw when developing encrypted messaging apps." The report adds:"They use the MTproto protocol which is effectively homegrown and I've seen no proper proofs of its security," Alan Woodward, professor at the University of Surrey told Gizmodo. Woodward criticized Telegram for their lack of transparency regarding their home cooked encryption protocol. "At present we don't know enough to know if it's secure or insecure. That's the trouble with security by obscurity. It's usual for cryptographers to reveal the algorithms completely, but here we are in the dark. Unless you have considerable experience, you shouldn't write your own crypto. No one really understands why they did that."The list goes on and on.

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Austin Is Conducting Sting Operations Against Ride-Sharing Drivers

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 10:33am
Since the Uber and Lyft ride-sharing apps stopped service in Austin, drunk driving has increased, riders are hunting for alternatives, and the police are conducting undercover sting operations against unauthorized ride-sharing drivers. With Chicago also considering new restrictions on ride-sharing apps, Slashdot reader MarkWhittington shares this report from Austin: With thousands of drivers and tens of thousands of riders who once depended on ride-sharing services in a lurch, a group called Arcade City has tried to fill the void with a person-to-person site to link up drivers and riders who then negotiate a fare. Of course, according to a story on KVUE, the Austin city government, and the police are on the case. The Austin Police Department has diverted detectives and resources to conduct sting operations on ride-sharing drivers who attempt to operate without official sanction. Undercover operatives will arrange for a ride with an Arcade City driver and then bust them, impounding their vehicle and imposing a fine. "The first Friday and Saturday after Uber was gone, we were joking that it was like the zombie apocalypse of drunk people," one former ride-sharing driver told Vocative.com. Earlier this month the site compared this year's drunk driving arrests to last years -- and discovered that in the three weeks since Uber and Lyft left Austin, 7.5% more people have been arrested for drunk driving.

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Artificially Intelligent Russian Robot Escapes...Again

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 9:31am
Slashdot reader Taco Cowboy brings a new report about Russian robot IR77, which has escaped from its research lab again... The story goes that an engineer working at Promobot Laboratories, in the Russian city of Perm, had left a gate open. Out trundled Promobot, traveling some 150 feet into the city before running out of juice. There it sat, batteries mostly dead, in the middle of a Perm street for 40 minutes, slowing cars to a halt and puzzling traffic cops A researcher at Promobot's facility in Russia said that the runaway robot was designed to interact with human beings, learn from experiences, and remember places and the faces of everyone it meets. Other versions of the Promobot have been docile, but this one just can't seem to fall in line, even after the researchers reprogrammed it twice. Despite several rewrites of Promobot's artificial intelligence, the robot continued to move toward exits. "We have changed the AI system twice," Kivokurtsev said. "So now I think we might have to dismantle it". Fans of the robot are pushing for a reprieve, according to an article titled 'Don't kill it!': Runaway robot IR77 could be de-activated because of 'love for freedom'

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Web Petition For 2nd EU Referendum Draws Huge Interest

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 8:32am
From an Associated Press report:An online petition seeking a second referendum on a British exit from the Europe Union has drawn more than 1.6 million names, a measure of the extraordinary divisiveness of Thursday's vote to leave the 28-nation bloc. The online petition site hosted by the House of Commons website even crashed Friday under the weight of the activity as officials said they'd seen unprecedented interest in the measure, which calls on the government to implement a rule that stating if that if "remain" or "leave" camps won less than 60 percent of the vote with less than a 75 percent turnout "there should be another referendum."According to reports, this is the biggest surge of support Parliament's website has ever seen. Looking at the keywords people were hitting up on Google after the news first broke, it was clear that a considerable portion of the population was clueless about the whole situation.

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Java, PHP, NodeJS, and Ruby Tools Compromised By Severe Swagger Vulnerability

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 7:33am
"Researchers have discovered a vulnerability within the Swagger specification which may place tools based on NodeJS, PHP, Ruby, and Java at risk of exploit," warns ZDNet's blog Zero Day, adding "the severe flaw allows attackers to remotely execute code." Slashdot reader msm1267 writes: A serious parameter injection vulnerability exists in the Swagger Code Generator that could allow an attacker to embed executable code in a Swagger JSON file. The flaw affects NodeJS, Ruby, PHP, Java and likely other programming languages. Researchers at Rapid7 who found the flaw disclosed details...as well as a Metasploit module and a proposed patch for the specification. The matter was privately disclosed in April, but Rapid7 said it never heard a response from Swagger's maintainers. Swagger produces and consumes RESTful web services APIs; Swagger docs can be consumed to automatically generate client-server code. As of January 1, the Swagger specification was donated to the Open API Initiative and became the foundation for the OpenAPI Specification. The vulnerability lies in the Swagger Code Generator, and specifically in that parsers for Swagger documents (written in JSON) don't properly sanitize input. Therefore, an attacker can abuse a developer's trust in Swagger to include executable code that will run once it's in the development environment.

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From File-Sharing To Prison: The Story of a Jailed Megaupload Programmer

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 6:31am
An anonymous reader writes: "I had to be made an example of as a warning to all IT people," says former Megaupload programmer Andrew Nomm, one of seven Megaupload employees arrested in 2012. Friday his recent interview with an Estonian journalist was republished in English by Ars Technica (which notes that at one point the 50 million users on Megaupload's file-sharing site created 4% of the world's internet traffic). The 37-year-old programmer pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement in exchange for a one-year-and-one-day sentence in a U.S. federal prison, which the U.S. Attorney General's office called "a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history." "It turned out that I was the only defendant in the last 29 years to voluntarily go from the Netherlands to the USA..." Nomm tells the interviewer, adding "I'll never get back the $40,000 that was seized by the USA." He describes his experience in the U.S. prison system after saying good-bye to his wife and 13-year-old son, adding that now "I have less trust in all sorts of state affairs, especially big countries. I saw the dark side of the American dream in all its glory..." In U.S. court documents Nomm "acknowledged" that the financial harm to copyright holders "exceeded $400 million."

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Snowden Finally Identified As Target of Investigation That Ended Lavabit

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 5:30am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Times: Three years after a government investigation forced the shuttering of Lavabit, a Texas-based email provider, its CEO revealed Friday that an account belonging to Edward Snowden spurred the probe that put his company out of business. "Ladar Levison shut down his encrypted webmail service in August 2013 amid an FBI investigation focused on one of his company's nearly half-a-million customers," reports The Washington Times. "A gag-order that has just recently been vacated in federal has legally prevented him up until now from confirming the account in question was registered to none other than the NSA contractor attributed with one of the largest intelligence leaks in U.S. history. U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton nullified the mandatory non-disclosure orders in a June 13 court filing that went unnoticed until Lavabit released a statement Friday. Officially, the consent order approved by Judge Hilton in the Eastern District of Virginia earlier this month removes all gag-orders concerning Lavabit and Mr. Levison with regards to a grand jury investigation that led the FBI to Mr. Snowdenâ(TM)s email account. 'While Iâ(TM)m pleased that I can finally speak freely about the target of the investigation, I also know the fight to protect our collective freedom is far from over,' Mr. Levison said in a statement. He said he plans to discuss the case further during the DefCon security conference in Las Vegas this summer."

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NASA Approves Five More Years For Hubble Space Telescope

Sat, 06/25/2016 - 2:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from New Scientist: NASA has announced plans to extend operations of the famous space telescope for another five years, through to June 2021. That means it will still be on the job when its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launches in 2018, giving astronomers a dual view of the universe. "Hubble is expected to continue to provide valuable data into the 2020s, securing its place in history as an outstanding general-purpose observatory in areas ranging from our solar system to the distant universe," said a NASA statement. Squeezing more life out of Hubble means it will overlap with NASA's next big telescope, JWST when it launches in 2018. While Hubble sees the cosmos in visible and ultraviolet light, JWST operates in the infrared. The various wavelengths can reveal different aspects of stars and galaxies, so using the scopes in tandem will enable astronomers to study the heavens in even greater detail.

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Sweden Tests World's First Electric Road For Trucks

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 11:00pm
Kristine Lofgren writes: Electric vehicles are cool, but for industrial vehicles it can be a challenge to get very far on just electric power. That's why Sweden is testing out an electric road where e-vehicles can jump on, get juiced while they travel, and get back on the road. The country just opened a two kilometer test stretch in Sandviken on the E16 where electric vehicles can connect to an overhead system that is very similar to light rail. It's another exciting step towards a fossil fuel-free Sweden. Trucks can use the electric power while riding on the special electric road system -- on regular roads they operate as hybrid vehicles. The testing is scheduled to take place until 2018, which should give the country enough time to see how the technology functions in the real world. Sweden's energy and sustainable growth agencies will fund the project in addition to the transport administration.

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New Apps Let Women Obtain Birth Control Without Visiting a Doctor

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 7:30pm
HughPickens.com writes: With nearly 40 percent of all pregnancies in the United States unintended, birth control is a critical public health issue. For short-term methods, visiting the doctor for a prescription can be time-consuming and sometimes costly and for some, like teenagers, it can be intimidating or embarrassing. Now Pam Belluck reports at the NYT that a growing assortment of new apps and websites now make it possible to get prescription contraceptives without going to the doctor as public health experts hope the new apps will encourage more women to start, or restart, using contraception and help reduce the country's stubbornly high rate of unintended pregnancies, as well as the rate of abortions. At least six digital ventures, by private companies and nonprofits, including Planned Parenthood, now provide prescriptions written by clinicians after women answer questions about their health online or by video. All prescribe birth control pills, and some prescribe patches, rings and morning-after pills and some ship contraceptives directly to women's doors. "At first I didn't believe it," said Susan Hashem, who wanted to restart birth control pills without missing work for a doctor's appointment. Hashem used an app called Lemonaid and paid $15 for a doctor to review her medical information and send a pill prescription to a local pharmacy. "I thought it was just a setup to get money," Hashem said. But after she answered the health questions one evening, "a doctor actually contacted me after office hours," and the next morning, she picked up three months' worth of pills.

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Robot Pizza Company 'Zume' Wants To Be 'Amazon of Food'

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 5:25pm
kheldan writes: Do you want robots making your pizza? Alex Garden, co-founder and executive chairman of Mountain View startup Zume, is betting you will. Garden, the former president of Zynga Studios, was previously a general manager of Microsoft's Xbox Live. Garden launched Zume in stealth mode last June, when he began quietly recruiting engineers under a pseudonym and building his patented trucks in an unmarked Mountain View garage. In September, he brought on Julia Collins, a 37-year-old restaurant veteran. She became chief executive officer and a co-founder. Collins was previously the vice president and CEO of Harlem Jazz Enterprises, the holding company for Minton's, a historic Harlem eatery. The company consists of an army of robot sauce-spreaders and trucks packed full of ovens. "In the back of Mountain View's newest pizzeria, Marta works tirelessly, spreading marinara sauce on uncooked pies. She doesn't complain, takes no breaks, and has never needed a sick day. She works for free." The pie then "travels on a conveyer belt to human employees who add cheese and toppings." From there, "The decorated pies are then scooped off the belt by a 5-foot tall grey automation, Bruno, who places each in a 850-degree oven. For now, the pizzas are fully cooked and delivered to customers in branded Fiats painted with slogans, including: 'You want a piece of this?' and 'Not part of the sharing economy.'" Garden says, "We are going to be the Amazon of food. [...] Just imagine Domino's without the labor component. You can start to see how incredibly profitable that can be."

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Scientists Force Computer To Binge On TV Shows and Predict What Humans Will Do

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 4:45pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from GeekWire: Researchers have taught a computer to do a better-than-expected job of predicting what characters on TV shows will do, just by forcing the machine to study 600 hours' worth of YouTube videos. The researchers developed predictive-vision software that uses machine learning to anticipate what actions should follow a given set of video frames. They grabbed thousands of videos showing humans greeting each other, and fed those videos into the algorithm. To test how much the machine was learning about human behavior, the researchers presented the computer with single frames that showed meet-ups between characters on TV sitcoms it had never seen, including "The Big Bang Theory," "Desperate Housewives" and "The Office." Then they asked whether the characters would be hugging, kissing, shaking hands or exchanging high-fives one second afterward. The computer's success rate was 43 percent. That doesn't match a human's predictive ability (72 percent), but it's way better than random (25 percent) as well as the researchers' benchmark predictive-vision programs (30 to 36 percent). The point of the research is to create robots that do a better job of anticipating what humans will do. MIT's Carl Vondrick and his colleagues are due to present the results of their experiment next week at the International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in Las Vegas. "[The research] could help a robot move more fluidly through your living space," Vondrick told The Associated Press. "The robot won't want to start pouring milk if it thinks you're about to pull the glass away." You can watch their YouTube video to learn more about the experiment.

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NASCAR Team Pays Ransomware Fee To Recover Files Worth $2 Million

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 4:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: "NASCAR team Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) revealed today it faced a ransomware infection this past April when it almost lost access to crucial files worth nearly $2 million, containing car parts lists and custom high-profile simulations that would have taken 1,500 man-hours to replicate," reports Softpedia. "The infection took place on the computer belonging to CSLFR's crew chief. Winston's staff detected the infection when encrypted files from Winston's computer began syncing to their joint Dropbox account." It was later discovered that he was infected with the TeslaCrypt ransomware. Because the team had no backups of the crucial data, they eventually paid the ransom (around $500). This happened before TeslaCrypt's authors decided to shut down their operations and release free decryption keys.

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You Could Be Paid To Post Snapchat Selfies With Products, Patent Filing Suggests

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 3:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: According to Snapchat's latest patent filings, the company could begin paying users to post photos and videos. Los Angeles Times reports: "The filings reveal that Snapchat automatically could analyze annotations on an image, including text and digital stickers, to prompt users to place their image in a collective gallery. In other words, people who type some variation of 'Clippers!!!' on top of their photo during a Clippers basketball game would have access to a library of images related to the game. Especially intriguing, the company could use computer vision technology to identify objects in an image -- say, a Coke bottle -- to encourage a user to share the shot in a Coca-Cola-sponsored story. Contributors could walk away with cash through a flat fee or some other deal based on views or sales generated by the story. The idea in the patent filing also would give advertisers an official way to compensate people for creative posts, compared with the usual strategy of paying top users to turn their personal accounts into an ad. Other types of automatically generated galleries mentioned in the patent application include stories based on a time stamp, temperature or movement. People could definite their own categories too. Curation of the galleries could be optional, with object recognition and text analysis as potential ways to filter inappropriate submissions. Users who get into audio timeline could get paid too, the patent filing states."

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Oculus Ditches DRM Hurdle, Allows HTC Vive Games On Rift Again

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 2:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: After changing its DRM to exclude ReVive last month, Oculus has changed its mind again and is now allowing HTC Vive games to play on the Oculus Rift. "We continually revise our entitlement and anti-piracy systems, and in the June update we've removed the check for Rift hardware from the entitlement check. We won't use hardware checks as part of DRM on PC in the future," Oculus VR said. "We believe protecting developer content is critical to the long-term success of the VR industry, and we'll continue taking steps in the future to ensure that VR developers can keep investing in ground-breaking new VR content." VentureBeat reports: "ReVive developers have acted quickly following the removal of the check. An update to the software has been posted on GitHub to bring it back in line, meaning you'll now be able to access the games that were previously available without jumping through extra hoops. Perhaps even more games might work going forward. CrossVR, one of the system's developers, took to Reddit to thank Oculus for the decision. 'I'm delighted to see this change and I hope it can generate a lot of goodwill for Oculus.' CrossVR said."

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