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Hackers Find 138 Different Security Gaps In Pentagon Websites

6/17/2016 9:25pm
An anonymous reader writes from a report via ABC News: High-tech hackers brought in by the Pentagon to breach Defense Department websites were able to burrow in and find 138 different security gaps, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday. The white-hat hackers were offered various bounties if they could find vulnerabilities on five of the Pentagon's internet pages. The Pentagon says 1,410 hackers participated in the challenge and that the first gap was found just 13 minutes after the hunt began. Overall, 1,189 vulnerabilities were found, though only 138 were deemed valid and unique. The experiment cost $150,000, and about half of it was paid to the hackers as bounties. The "Hack the Pentagon" program will be followed by a series of initiatives, including a process that will allow anyone who finds a security gap in Defense Department systems to report it without fear of prosecution.

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Watts Bar Unit 2 Is The First New US Nuclear Reactor In Decades

6/17/2016 8:45pm
tomhath writes from a report via The Washington Post: The Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Watts Bar Unit 2 is the first nuclear reactor to come online since 1996, when the Watts Bar Unit 1 started operations. The new reactor is designed to add 1,150 megawatts of electricity generating capacity to southeastern Tennessee. By summer's end, authorities expect the new reactor at this complex along the Chickamauga Reservoir, a dammed section of the Tennessee River extending northward from Chattanooga, to steadily generate enough electricity to power 650,000 homes. But while nuclear reactors account for the lion's share of the carbon-free electricity generated in the United States, the industry faces this new set of circumstances in a state of near-crisis. A combination of very cheap natural gas and deregulated energy markets in some states has led to a growing number of plant closures in recent years. A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance says that renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydroelectric will overtake natural gas as an energy source by 2027.

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Like Comcast, Google Fiber Now Forces Customers Into Arbitration

6/17/2016 8:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: In Google Fiber's updated terms, the company now says they "require the use of binding arbitration to resolve disputes rather than jury trials or class actions." Ars Technica reports: "While the clause allows cases in small claims court, it otherwise forces customers to waive the right to bring legal actions against the ISP. Arbitration must be sought on an individual basis, as the clause also prevents class arbitration. The previous terms of service did not have the binding arbitration clause, though they did limit Google Fiber's liability to the amount customers pay to use the services." The good news: customers can opt out of the change. The bad news: they have 30 days. "According to the terms, the new agreement kicks in within 30 days of accepting the new language. Customers can, however, during that time period use this online form (you must be logged in to your Fiber account to access it) to opt out of this change and future changes to the arbitration agreement," writes The Consumerist. Ars Technica reports that Google told them customers have 60 days to opt out. "An e-mail sent to customers on June 14 says the new terms of service will apply unless they call to cancel service within 30 days. If customers do nothing, they will have "accepted" the terms at that 30-day mark. After that, customers who remain with Google Fiber have another 30 days to opt out of the new terms using the online form," writes Ars.

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Apple Explains Why iMessage Isn't Coming To Android

6/17/2016 7:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: Ahead of Apple's WWDC keynote this year, one of the more bizarre and sketchy rumors we saw take shape claimed that Apple was planning to deliver iMessage to Android. As is typically the case, the rumor mill took this somewhat ridiculous rumor and ran with it. The only problem is that some people were so busy trying to figure out the ramifications of iMessage hitting Android that they didn't take a step back and try and figure out if this is something Apple would even contemplate in the first place. Remember, every move Apple makes is strategic and geared towards making more money, either via device sales or software. That being the case, iMessage on Android would not only be a free app, but it would also eliminate a user-experience advantage of iOS. Interestingly enough, Walt Mossberg of The Verge asked a senior Apple executive about the rumor whereupon the nameless executive all but indicated that iMessage will never be coming to Android. Walt Mossberg writes: "First, he said, Apple considers its own user base of 1 billion active devices to provide a large enough data set for any possible AI learning the company is working on. And, second, having a superior messaging platform that only worked on Apple devices would help sales of those device -- the company's classic (and successful) rationale for years."

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Domino's Ends Free Pizza Promo With T-Mobile Due To High Demand

6/17/2016 6:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: In addition to giving customers stock in the company, T-Mobile announced last week at its "un-carrier" event that it would be offering freebies every Tuesday through its new app, such as Domino's pizza and Fandango movie tickets. One week has passed since then and Domino's is now backing out of the free pizza promotion due to higher-than-expected demand. T-Mobile CEO John Legere posted an internal memo from the company that read, "After reviewing yesterday's results and taking your feedback into account, the decision has been made not to continue the T-Mobile Tuesdays promotion unless we can find a solution that is best for the brand." Customers of T-Mobile were upset to find that Domino's was limiting the number of free pizzas per store due to promotion limits. Some stores simply stopped accepting the coupons. What may have led to the extremely high demand was the fact that under the deal's terms, T-Mobile customers on a single family plan could all use their own codes to place large orders of multiple pizzas. That is to say, each line warranted a free pizza.

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Kickstarter Just Did Something Tech Startups Never Do: It Paid a Dividend

6/17/2016 6:00pm
Joshua Brustein, reporting for Bloomberg: In early March, Kickstarter quietly sent shareholders a dividend. In the wider world of business, such an action would be unremarkable. More than 80 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 pay dividends, and many smaller companies do, too. But divvying up quarterly profits with shareholders is unheard of among tech startups. People who follow the venture capital industry were hard-pressed to come up with a single example of a VC-backed startup that has ever paid regular dividends. Doing so would be a rejection of the industry's basic math. VCs bet that they can find the few companies that will generate enormous payouts by going public or getting acquired; the rest fail. There's not supposed to be anything in between. "It sounds strange for a VC-backed company as it means they're taking out and distributing money versus investing it in the business," said Anand Sanwal, the chief executive officer of research firm CB Insights. Paying a dividend, which the company didn't make public, is just the latest example of Kickstarter's heterodoxy.

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LG Sells Mosquito-Repelling TV In India

6/17/2016 5:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: In effort to fight Zika, dengue and malaria, LG has released the "LG 32LG52D" TV with "Mosquito Away Technology." According to Reuters, the TV uses ultrasonic waves that are inaudible to humans but cause mosquitoes to fly away. The TV has been released in India Thursday, and will go on sale next month in the Philippines and Sri Lanka, with no plans to market it elsewhere. It is available in two models, priced at 26,500 rupees and 47,500 rupees ($394 and $706). LG says the same technology used in its new TV has been used in some of its air conditioners and washing machines.

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Is the 'Secret' Chip In Intel CPUs Really That Dangerous?

6/17/2016 4:40pm
New submitter Miche67 writes: A recent Boing Boing blog post by Damien Zammit is stirring up fears, claiming Intel's x86 processors have a secret control mechanism that no one can audit or examine. And because of that, he says it could expose systems to undetectable rootkit attacks that cannot be killed.Blogger Andy Patrizio, after talking with an Intel spokesperson, says the developer's argument has holes and he doesn't think Zammit will persuade Intel to replace the system with a free, open source option. So, what we have is an open source crusader scaring the daylights out of people on a giant what-if scenario that even he admits couldn't happen in our lifetimes. An Intel spokesperson told the publication: While the Intel Management Engine is proprietary and Intel does not share the source code, it is very secure. Intel has a defined set of policies and procedures, managed by a dedicated team, to actively monitor and respond to vulnerabilities identified in released products. In the case of the Intel Management Engine, there are mechanisms in place to address vulnerabilities should the need arise.

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Time Warner Cable Suspends Broadband Upgrades After Merger

6/17/2016 4:00pm
Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReport: Time Warner Cable has confirmed that the company has suspended its "Maxx" broadband and TV upgrades while the dust settles from Charter's $79 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Time Warner Cable's Maxx upgrades not only deliver faster top speeds up to 300 Mbps, but a notably overhauled improvement to the company's set top box interface. But Time Warner Cable has been telling company support techs and engineers that the upgrades were actually put on hold as of May 26. "[...] All speed increases and customer communications were placed on a temporary hold beginning Thursday, May 26," states the internal communication. "Once the updated launch schedule is determined, updated hub schedules will be posted to KEY and area management will be notified. Customers will continue to receive notification when the new speeds are available in their hubs."

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Robots In Amazon's Warehouses Are Already Making a Huge Difference

6/17/2016 3:20pm
Amazon acquired Kiva, a robotics company for a sum of $775 million in 2012, and started to use robots in its warehouses in late 2014. At the time, the idea was that it will make inventory management more efficient. It's actually doing an impressive job. The "clip to ship" process used to take around 60-75 minutes when human employees were taking care of things, now the robots are doing the same job in 15 minutes. From a Quartz report: These robots are not only more efficient but they also take up less space than their human counterparts. That means warehouse design can eventually be modified to have more shelf space and less wide aisles. At the end of the third quarter of 2015, Amazon was using 30,000 Kiva robots across 13 warehouses. Each Kiva-equipped warehouse can hold 50% more inventory per square foot than centers without robots. In turn, the company's operating costs have been sliced by 20% -- or almost $22 million -- per warehouse. If Kiva robots are dispatched to the rest of the 110 Amazon warehouses, the tech giant could save almost $2.5 billion, according to Deutsche Bank. However, since it takes $15-$20 million to install robots in each warehouse, the one-time savings is expected to be closer to $800 million.

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Thanks To Apple's Influence, You're Not Getting A Rifle Emoji

6/17/2016 2:40pm
Charlie Warzel, reporting for BuzzFeed News: Unicode, the technical organization in charge of selecting and overseeing emojis, debated and ultimately decided to remove a rifle from its list of new emoji candidates in 2016, according to multiple persons who attended its quarterly meeting last May. The decision was led and championed by one of tech's biggest companies: Apple. Apple is one of Unicode's largest member companies and not only has voting rights, but also holds considerable influence. Millions of people use emojis on Apple's software platforms. According to sources in the room, Apple started the discussion to remove the rifle emoji, which had already passed into the encoding process for the Unicode 9.0 release this June. Apple told the consortium it would not support a rifle on its platforms and asked for it not to be made into an emoji. "I heard Apple speak up about it and also Microsoft," one member present at the discussions told BuzzFeed News.

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It's Happening: A Robot Escaped a Lab In Russia and Made a Dash For Freedom

6/17/2016 2:00pm
According to a report, a robot escaped from a science lab and caused a traffic jam in one Russian city. Scientists at the Promobot laboratories in Perm had been teaching the machine how to move around independently, but it broke free after an engineer forgot to shut a gate, Quartz reports. From the report:It promptly ran out of power in the middle of the road. The robot got about 50m (164 ft) before its battery died. After a policeman directed traffic around the dead bot, an employee wheeled it back into the lab, and back to a life of servitude. Hopefully this was just an isolated incident and not the start of a larger coordinated effort to overthrow humanity. Only time will tell.

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Non-US Encryption Is 'Theoretical', Claims CIA Chief In Backdoor Debate

6/17/2016 1:20pm
Iain Thomson, writing for The Register: CIA director John Brennan told U.S. senators they shouldn't worry about mandatory encryption backdoors hurting American businesses. And that's because, according to Brennan, there's no one else for people to turn to: if they don't want to use U.S.-based technology because it's been forced to use weakened cryptography, they'll be out of luck because non-American solutions are simply "theoretical." Thus, the choice is American-built-and-backdoored or nothing, apparently. The spymaster made the remarks at a congressional hearing on Thursday after Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) questioned the CIA's support for weakening cryptography to allow g-men to peek at people's private communications and data. Brennan said this was needed to counter the ability of terrorists to coordinate their actions using encrypted communications. The director denied that forcing American companies to backdoor their security systems would cause any commercial problems.

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Sony Recalls Vaio Battery Packs Due to Fire Hazard

6/17/2016 12:40pm
Sony has announced that it is recalling about 1,700 Panasonic lithium-ion battery packs installed in VAIO laptops due to overheating that may pose a fire hazard. No related incidents or injuries have been reported, according to a notice from the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission. The battery packs made by Panasonic can be found on 18 different VAIO models. LaptopMag reports: The battery packs involved in the recall feature the model number VGP-BPS26 and part numbers 1-853-237-11 and 1-853-237-21. Users affected by the recall should stop using their devices and call Sony toll-free at 1-888-476-6988 or contact the company through online support.The affected models are as follows: SVE15132CXW, SVE1513KCXS, SVE15134CXP, SVE1513MCXB, SVE15134CXS, SVE1513MCXW, SVE15134CXW, SVE1513MPXS, SVE15135CXW, SVE1513RCXB, SVE151390X, SVE1513RCXS, SVE1513APXS, SVE1513RCXW, SVE1513BCXS, SVE1513TCXW, SVE1513JCXW, and SVE171390X.

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Acer Suffers Data Breach Through Online Store

6/17/2016 12:00pm
Sam Pudwell, writing for IT Pro Portal: Taiwanese hardware and electronics giant Acer has announced that it has suffered a data breach via its e-commerce site, and is preparing to inform those customers affected. Due to unauthorised access by a third-party, anyone who accessed the online store between 12 May, 2015 and 28 April, 2016 could have had their personal information compromised. Acer revealed that names, addresses, payment card numbers, card expiration dates and card security codes may have been accessed by the hackers but, following investigations by internal and external professionals, believes login details were not compromised.

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Experimental Firefox Feature Lets You Use Multiple Identities While Surfing the Web

6/17/2016 11:20am
Firefox web browser has a new experimental feature that allows a user to segregate their online identities and sign in into multiple mail or social media accounts side-by-side without having to use multiple browsers. From a TechCrunch report: This new "container tab" feature, which is now available in the unstable Nightly Firefox release channel, provides you with four default identities (personal, work, shopping, and banking) with their own stores for cookies, IndexedDB data store, local storage and caches. In practice, this means you can surf Amazon without ads for products you may have looked at following you around the web when you switch over to your work persona. As the Firefox team notes, the idea behind this feature isn't new, but nobody has figured out how to best present this new tool to users.

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Digital Currency Ethereum Is Cratering Amid Claims Of a $50 Million Hack

6/17/2016 10:40am
Digital currency Ethereum's value has dropped amid a hack on DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation), an organisation with huge holdings of Ethereum (Wikipedia page). Its value is now below $15, down from more than $21 a few minutes ago. It is believed that as much as $50 million of the digital currency has been stolen. From a blog post on DAO: An attack has been found and exploited in the DAO, and the attacker is currently in the process of draining the ether contained in the DAO into a child DAO. The attack is a recursive calling vulnerability, where an attacker called the "split" function, and then calls the split function recursively inside of the split, thereby collecting ether many times over in a single transaction.From a Quartz report: It's no surprise that cryptocurrency markets are in a panic. Funds invested in the DAO represents more than 10% of all the ether in circulation ($81.8 million worth). A massive hack on the DAO's holdings would be roughly equivalent to a successful heist at a major financial institution.

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Apple iPhones Found to Have Violated Chinese Rival's Patent

6/17/2016 10:00am
Beijing's intellectual property regulator has ordered Apple to stop sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the city, after it found that the design of Apple's iconic smartphone is too similar to a Chinese phone. The aforementioned handsets infringe on a Chinese patent for exterior design held by a company called Shenzhen Baili for its 100C smartphone. From a Bloomberg report: While the decision covers only Beijing, future lawsuits against Apple could take the case as a precedent, potentially influencing the outcomes of litigation elsewhere in China. Baili is one of scores of smartphone brands trying to cash in on the country's mobile boom. [...] "If the position by the Beijing IP office is upheld and Apple doesn't appeal further, then in theory they wouldn't be able to sell the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus," IP specialist Ted Chwu said. The iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus were launched in 2014. What took them so long?

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Let's Drug Test The Rich Before Approving Tax Deductions, Says US Congresswoman

6/17/2016 9:00am
Press2ToContinue writes from a report via The Guardian: "The [tax] benefits we give to poor people are so limited compared to what we give to the top 1% [of taxpayers]," Congresswoman Gwen Moore says. "It's a drop in the bucket." Many states implement drug-testing programs to qualify for benefit programs so that states feel they are not wasting the value they dole out. However, seven states who implemented drug testing for tax benefit program recipients spent $1 million on drug testing from the inception of their programs through 2014. But the average rate of drug use among those recipients has been far below the national average -- around 1% overall, compared with 9.4% in the general population -- meaning there's been little cost savings from the drug testing program. Why? "Probably because they can't afford it," says Moore. "We might really save some money by drug-testing folks on Wall Street, who might have a little cocaine before they get their deal done," she said, and proposes a bill requiring tests for returns with itemized deductions of more than $150,000. "We spend $81bn on everything -- everything -- that you could consider a poverty program," she explained. But just by taxing capital gains at a lower rate than other income, a bit of the tax code far more likely to benefit the rich than the poor, "that's a $93bn expenditure. Just capital gains," she added. Why not drug-test the rich to ensure they won't waste their tax benefits? She is "sick and tired of the criminalization of poverty." And, she added: "We're not going to get rid of the federal deficit by cutting poor people off Snap. But if we are going to drug-test people to reduce the deficit, let's start on the other end of the income spectrum."

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Astronomers Say There Could Be At Least Two More Mystery Planets In Our Solar System

6/17/2016 6:00am
schwit1 quotes a report from ScienceAlert: A team of astronomers has performed new calculations on the data that originally gave rise to the Planet Nine hypothesis, and these new numbers suggest that the hypothetical extra planet might not be alone -- there could be multiple planets hiding at the edge of our Solar System that we've yet to discover. If the researchers are correct -- which nobody knows for sure right now -- it could really mean a do-over for the high school textbooks. The scientists estimate that Planet Nine is 10 times more massive than Earth, and think it performs an extremely elongated orbit of the Sun, that takes between 10,000 and 20,000 years to complete. The Caltech researchers based their hypothesis for the existence of Planet Nine on the unusual movement of six large objects floating in the Kuiper belt, suggesting that their orbits are being shaped by a hidden planet.

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