Education

Google and Gates-Backed Khan Academy Introduces "Grit"-Based Classroom Funding 90

Posted by samzenpus
from the effort-counts dept.
theodp writes: Their intentions are no doubt good, but some will be troubled by Google and Khan Academy's recently-concluded LearnStorm initiative, which pitted kids-against-kids, schools-against-schools, and cities-against-cities in a 3-month learning challenge for prizes based not only on students' mastery of math skills on Khan Academy, but also their perceived 'hustle' (aka 'grit'). "Points are earned by mastering math skills and also for taking on challenging new concepts and persevering," explained a Khan Academy FAQ. A blog entry further explained, "They've earned points and prizes not only for mastering math skills but also for showing 'hustle,' a metric we created to measure grit, perseverance, and growth. They competed over 200,000 hours of learning and 13.6 million standards-aligned math problems. In addition, thanks to the generosity of Google.org, DonorsChoose.org, and Comcast's Internet Essentials, 34 underserved schools unlocked new devices for their classrooms and free home internet service for eligible families, increasing student access to online learning tools like Khan Academy." Apparently funded by a $2 million Google grant, the Google, Khan Academy, and DonorsChoose grit-based classroom funding comes on the heels of the same organizations' gender-based classroom funding initiative. Supported by some of the world's wealthiest individuals and corporations, Khan Academy's Board members include a Google Board member (Diane Green), spouse of a Google Board member (Ann Doerr), and the Managing Partner of Bill Gates' bgC3 (Larry Cohen); former Board members include Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
Operating Systems

Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-run-on-your-brilloPad dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from The Information (paywalled) says Google is working on an operating system called "Brillo" that would be a platform for Internet-of-things devices. It's supposedly a lightweight version of Android, capable of running on devices with extremely limited hardware — as little as 32 MB of RAM, for example. The company is expected to launch the code for Brillo at its I/O event next week. This is particularly relevant now that Google has acquired Nest, Dropcam, and Revolv — a trio of "smart home" companies whose devices could potentially by unified by Brillo.
Google

Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear 93

Posted by timothy
from the teddy-ruxpin-pinned-it-on-the-one-armed-man dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Time Magazine reports that Google has designed and patented an "anthropomorphic device" that could take the form of a "doll or toy" and interact both with people as well as tech gadgets echoing the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Stephen Spielberg's 2001 movie AI. This could be one of Google's creepiest patents yet — especially if movies like "Chuckie" still give you nightmares. The patent filing diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny rabbit outfitted with microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. If it senses you're looking at it, the fuzzy toy will rotate its head and look back at you. Once it receives and recognizes a voice command prompt, you can then tell it to control media devices in your home (e.g. turn on your music or TV). According to the patent filing: "To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest. To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils."

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it. But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay. "When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line," says Avady. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy."
Security

Adult Dating Site Hack Reveals Users' Sexual Preference, Extramarital Affairs 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day,-another-breach dept.
An anonymous reader notes this report from Channel 4 News that Adult FriendFinder, one of the largest dating sites in the world, has suffered a database breach that revealed personal information for 3.9 million of its users. The leaked data includes email addresses, IP addresses, birth dates, postal codes, sexual preferences, and information indicating which of them are seeking extramarital affairs. There even seems to be data from accounts that were supposedly deleted. Channel 4 saw evidence that there were plans for a spam campaign against these users, and others are worried that a blackmail campaign will follow. "Where you've got names, dates of birth, ZIP codes, then that provides an opportunity to actually target specific individuals whether they be in government or healthcare for example, so you can profile that person and send more targeted blackmail-type emails," said cybercrime specialist Charlie McMurdy.
Communications

Academics Build a New Tor Client Designed To Beat the NSA 60

Posted by timothy
from the non-spy-vs-spy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In response to a slew of new research about network-level attacks against Tor, academics from the U.S. and Israel built a new Tor client called Astoria designed to beat adversaries like the NSA, GCHQ, or Chinese intelligence who can monitor a user's Tor traffic from entry to exit. Astoria differs most significantly from Tor's default client in how it selects the circuits that connect a user to the network and then to the outside Internet. The tool is an algorithm designed to more accurately predict attacks and then securely select relays that mitigate timing attack opportunities for top-tier adversaries.
Security

Telstra Says Newly Acquired Pacnet Hacked, Customer Data Exposed 15

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-to-know-all-about-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Telstra’s Asian-based data center and undersea cable operator Pacnet has been hacked exposing many of the telco’s customers to a massive security breach. The company said it could not determine whether personal details of customers had been stolen, but it acknowledged the possibility. The Stack reports: "Telstra said that an unauthorized third party had been able to gain access to the Pacnet business management systems through a malicious software installed via a vulnerability on an SQL server. The hack had taken place just weeks before Telstra acquired the Asian internet service provider for $550mn on 16 April this year. The telecom company confirmed that it had not been aware of the hack when it signed the deal in December 2014."
The Almighty Buck

FBI: Social Media, Virtual Currency Fraud Becoming a Huge Problem 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the buy-my-web-dollars dept.
coondoggie writes: Criminals taking advantage of personal data found on social media and vulnerabilities of the digital currency system are two of the emerging Internet law-breaking trends identified by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in its annual look at online crime. The IC3 said 12% of the complaints submitted in 2014 contained a social media trait. Complaints involving social media have quadrupled over the last five years. In most cases, victim’s personal information was exploited through compromised accounts or social engineering.
Privacy

Simple Flaw Exposed Data On Millions of Charter Internet Customers 29

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes: A security flaw discovered in the website of Charter Communications, a cable and Internet provider active in 28 states, may have exposed the personal account details of millions of its customers. Security researcher Eric Taylor discovered the internet service provider's vulnerability as part of his research, and demonstrated how a simple header modification performed with a browser plug-in could reveal details of Charter subscriber accounts. After Fast Company notified Charter of the issue, the company said it had installed a fix within hours.
China

Huawei's LiteOS Internet of Things Operating System Is a Minuscule 10KB 166

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-future dept.
Mark Wilson writes: Chinese firm Huawei today announces its IoT OS at an event in Beijing. The company predicts that within a decade there will be 100 billion connected devices and it is keen for its ultra-lightweight operating system to be at the heart of the infrastructure. Based on Linux, LiteOS weighs in at a mere 10KB — smaller than a Word document — but manages to pack in support for zero configuration, auto-discovery, and auto-networking. The operating system will be open for developers to tinker with, and is destined for use in smart homes, wearables, and connected vehicles. LiteOS will run on Huawei's newly announced Agile Network 3.0 Architecture and the company hopes that by promoting a standard infrastructure, it will be able to push the development of internet and IoT applications
Security

How 1990s Encryption Backdoors Put Today's Internet In Jeopardy 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the grunge-net dept.
An anonymous reader writes: While debate swirls in Washington D.C. about new encryption laws, the consequences of the last crypto war is still being felt. Logjam vulnerabilities making headlines today is "a direct result of weakening cryptography legislation in the 1990s," researcher J. Alex Halderman said. "Thanks to Moore's law and improvements in cryptanalysis, the ability to break that crypto is something really anyone can do with open-source software. The backdoor might have seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe the arguments 20 years ago convinced people this was going to be safe. History has shown otherwise. This is the second time in two months we've seen 90s era crypto blow up and put the safety of everyone on the internet in jeopardy."
Canada

Canadian Piracy Rates Plummet As Industry Points To New Copyright Notice System 219

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-downloading-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Canada's copyright notice-and-notice system took effect earlier this year, leading to thousands of notifications being forwarded by Internet providers to their subscribers. Since its launch, there have been serious concerns about the use of notices to demand settlements and to shift the costs of enforcement to consumers and Internet providers. Yet reports indicate that piracy rates in Canada have plummeted, with some ISPs seeing a 70% decrease in online infringement.
Networking

Critical Vulnerability In NetUSB Driver Exposes Millions of Routers To Hacking 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not-even-another-day-yet dept.
itwbennett writes: NetUSB, a service that lets devices connected over USB to a computer be shared with other machines on a local network or the Internet, is implemented in Linux-based embedded systems, such as routers, as a kernel driver. Once enabled, it opens a server that listens on TCP port 20005 for connecting clients. Security researchers from a company called Sec Consult found that if a connecting computer has a name longer than 64 characters, a stack buffer overflow is triggered in the NetUSB service. The advisory notice has a list of affected routers.
Encryption

'Logjam' Vulnerability Threatens Encrypted Connections 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day-another-vulnerability dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A team of security researchers has revealed a new encryption vulnerability called 'Logjam,' which is the result of a flaw in the TLS protocol used to create encrypted connections. It affects servers supporting the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, and it's caused by export restrictions mandated by the U.S. government during the Clinton administration. "Attackers with the ability to monitor the connection between an end user and a Diffie-Hellman-enabled server that supports the export cipher can inject a special payload into the traffic that downgrades encrypted connections to use extremely weak 512-bit key material. Using precomputed data prepared ahead of time, the attackers can then deduce the encryption key negotiated between the two parties."

Internet Explorer is the only browser yet updated to block such an attack — patches for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are expected soon. The researchers add, "Breaking the single, most common 1024-bit prime used by web servers would allow passive eavesdropping on connections to 18% of the Top 1 Million HTTPS domains. A second prime would allow passive decryption of connections to 66% of VPN servers and 26% of SSH servers. A close reading of published NSA leaks shows that the agency's attacks on VPNs are consistent with having achieved such a break." Here is their full technical report (PDF).
America Online

Jason Scott of Textfiles.com Wants Your AOL & Shovelware CDs 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-kids-know-them-as-the-small-frisbees-that-shatter-so-beautifully dept.
eldavojohn writes: You've probably got a spindle in your closet, or a drawer layered with them: the CD-ROM discs that were mailed to you or delivered with some hardware that you put away "just in case." Now, of course, the case for actually using them is laughable. Well, a certain eccentric individual named Jason Scott has a fever — and the only cure is more AOL CDs. But his sickness doesn't stop there, "I also want all the CD-ROMs made by Walnut Creek CD-ROM. I want every shovelware disc that came out in the entire breadth of the CD-ROM era. I want every shareware floppy, while we're talking. I want it all. The CD-ROM era is basically finite at this point. It's over. The time when we're going to use physical media as the primary transport for most data is done done done. Sure, there's going to be distributions and use of CD-ROMs for some time to come, but the time when it all came that way and when it was in most cases the only method of distribution in the history books, now. And there were a specific amount of CD-ROMs made. There are directories and listings of many that were manufactured. I want to find those. I want to image them, and I want to put them up. I'm looking for stacks of CD-ROMs now. Stacks and stacks. AOL CDs and driver CDs and Shareware CDs and even hand-burned CDs of stuff you downloaded way back when. This is the time to strike." Who knows? His madness may end up being appreciated by younger generations!
Networking

Microwave Comms Betwen Population Centers Could Be Key To Easing Internet Bottlenecks 221

Posted by timothy
from the you'll-get-cancer-and-be-well-done dept.
itwbennett writes: Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Duke University recently looked at the main causes of Internet latency and what it would take to achieve speed-of-light performance. The first part of the paper, titled Towards a Speed of Light Internet, is devoted to finding out where the slowdowns are coming from. They found that the bulk of the delay comes from the latency of the underlying infrastructure, which works in a multiplicative way by affecting each step in the request. The second part of the paper proposes what turns out to be a relatively cheap and potentially doable solution to bring Internet speeds close to the speed of light for the vast majority of us. The authors propose creating a network that would connect major population centers using microwave networks.
Crime

Swedish Court Orders Seizure of Pirate Bay Domains 55

Posted by timothy
from the grand-mal dept.
The Pirate Bay will probably never be the darling of any government; we've seen various Pirate Bay domains cracked down on, and the arrests of site founders. An anonymous reader writes now with the news reported this morning by TorrentFreak that: the Stockholm District Court has ordered two key domains owned by The Pirate Bay to be seized. While the ruling means that the site will lose its famous ThePirateBay.se domain, don't expect the site to simply disappear. TPB informs TorrentFreak that they have plenty more domains left in store. From the point of view of the down-crackers, It's a hard problem, particularly when it's easy for people to spin up their own instances of the site.
Facebook

European Internet Users Urged To Protect Themselves Against Facebook Tracking 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-unfriend-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Belgium's Privacy Protection Commission says that Facebook tramples on European privacy laws by tracking people online without their consent and dodges questions from national regulators. They have issued a set of recommendations for both Facebook, website owners and end users. Net-Security reports: "The recommendations are based on the results of an extensive analysis of Facebook's revised policies and terms (rolled out on January 30, 2015) conducted by the inter-university research center EMSOC/SPION, which concluded that the company is acting in violation of European law. According to them Facebook places too much burden on its users to protect their privacy, and then doesn't offer simple tools and settings to do so, and sets up some problematic default settings. They also don't provide adequate information for users to make informed choices."
Government

North Carolina Still Wants To Block Municipal Broadband 289

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-competition-has-no-place-in-capitalism dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In February, when the FCC rolled out its net neutrality rules, it also voted to override state laws that let Texas and North Carolina block ISPs created by local governments and public utilities. These laws frequently leave citizens facing a monopoly or duopoly with no recourse, so the FCC abolished them. Now, North Carolina has sued the FCC to get them back. State Attorney General Roy Cooper claims, "the FCC unlawfully inserted itself between the State and the State's political subdivisions." He adds that the new rule is "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act; and is otherwise contrary to law."
The Courts

Prenda's Old Copyright Trolls Are Suing People Again 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the once-a-troll-always-a-troll dept.
New submitter Hokan writes: Paul Hansmeier and John Steele, formerly of Prenda, are suing again. Each have started nonprofits, in Minnesota and Illinois, claiming to defend disabled people, and they are suing small businesses for ADA violations. You may recall that a District Court judge issued sanctions against Prenda for their attempts to file copyright suits against a broad swath of internet users. Their new practices take a similar tack: sue a small business and generously offer to collect a settlement somewhat lower than the amount it would cost to to make changes to their establishment. A new group is fighting back by creating "an access audit for local businesses, allowing them to develop a plan to fix ADA issues and potentially to ward off litigation."
The Internet

Kim Dotcom Calls Hillary Clinton an "Adversary" of Internet Freedom 276

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-attention-to-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes: CNET reports that Kim Dotcom views Hillary Clinton as "an enemy of online freedom." Hilary's candidacy came up when Kim was asked about a tweet he made in which he called himself "Hillary's worse nightmare in 2016." He says now that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would probably be a bigger headache for Clinton. "I'm aware of some of the things that are going to be roadblocks for her," he added. Dotcom said he hoped to expand the influence of the Internet Party and provide some transparency. Brietbart adds that a conflict between Assange and Clinton may have personal motivations, but it also seems inevitable. Hillary is obsessive about maintaining control of information. She created a personal server in her home to handle her emails as Secretary of State and then deleted all the contents after self-selecting the emails she believed were work-related. Assange is famous for parceling out secret information."