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Government

Texas Man Who Acted As Russian Agent Gets 10 Years' Prison (go.com) 82

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: A Texas man who acted as a secret agent for the Russian government and illegally exported cutting-edge military technology to Russia has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Alexander Fishenko learned his punishment Thursday in federal court in New York. He pleaded guilty in September to crimes including acting as a Russian agent. The 50-year-old Fishenko is a U.S. and Russian citizen. He owned Houston-based Arc Electronics Inc. Prosecutors say he led a scheme that evaded strict export controls for micro-electronics commonly used in missile guidance systems, detonation triggers and radar systems. Prosecutors say his company shipped about $50 million worth of technologies to Russia between 2002 and 2012. In other Russian-related news, a Russian government-owned news site Sputnik has reported that the Kremlin is building a nuclear space bomber that should be flight-ready by 2020.
Piracy

US Navy Faces $600M Lawsuit For Allegedly Pirating 3D VR Software (hothardware.com) 115

An anonymous reader quotes a report from HotHardware: The U.S. Navy has been accused of pirating 3D software after first testing a software package offered by Germany company Bitmanagement Software GmbH. The company is suing the United States of America for nearly $600 million. HotHardware reports: "According to the court filing, Bitmanagement licensed its BS Contact Geo software for use on 38 Navy computers from 2011 to 2012. This limited rollout was 'for the purposes of testing, trial runs, and integration into Navy systems.' While this test period was underway, the Navy reportedly began negotiating to license the software for use on thousands of additional computers. However, even as the negotiations were ongoing, the Navy decided to go ahead and initiate its full-scale rollout without actually paying for the software. In total, the initial 38 computers allegedly swelled to 104,922 computers by October 2013. As of today, BS Contact GEO is claimed to be installed on 558,466 Navy computers, although 'likely this unauthorized copying has taken place on an even larger scale' according to the filing. As if the unauthorized installation of software onto hundreds of thousands of computers wasn't enough, Bitmanagement is alleging that the Navy during 2014 began disabling the Flexwrap software that is tasked with tracking the use of BS Contact Geo and helping to prevent it from being duplicated. When this software piracy was taking place, the retail price of a single BS Contact Geo license was $1067.76. With nearly 600,000 computers now in play, Bitmanagement is seeking a whopping $596,308,103 in damages. The lawsuit, which alleges willful copyright infringement was filed on July 15th."
Government

WikiLeaks Releases 300K Turkey Government Emails In Response To Erdogan's Post-Coup Purges (rt.com) 230

An anonymous reader quotes a report from RT: Despite a massive cyberattack on its website, WikiLeaks has published the first batch of nearly 300,000 emails from the Turkish ruling AKP party's internal server and thousands of attached files in response to the Ankara government's widespread post-coup purges. Some 294,548 emails pertaining to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) were made public on Tuesday at 11:00pm Ankara time. WikiLeaks says that the release of almost 300,000 email bodies together with several thousand attached files, is just part one in the series and encompasses 762 mailboxes beginning with 'A' through to 'I.' All emails are attributed to "akparti.org.tr," the primary domain of the main political force in the country, and cover a period from 2010 up until July 6, 2016, just a week before the failed military coup. The NGO also revealed that one of the emails contained an Excel database of the cell phone numbers of AKP deputies. Prior to the release WikiLeaks suffered a "sustained attack" as it warned that Turkish government entities might try to interfere with the publication of the AKP material. The attacks are still continuing and users are experiencing difficulties in accessing the material. WikiLeaks reassured the public that they are "winning" the battle. A few hours after the release, WikiLeaks tweeted a screenshot showing the database to be blocked in Turkey, claiming that Ankara "ordered [the release] to be blocked nationwide." More than 200 people have died and over 1,400 injured from the attempted coup. Thousands of people have also been detained and/or lost their posts across the judiciary, military, interior ministry and civil service sectors. The Turkish president Erdogan is blaming the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the attempted coup.
Security

DARPA Will Stage an AI Fight in Las Vegas For DEF CON (yahoo.com) 89

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "A bunch of computers will try to hack each other in Vegas for a $2 million prize," reports Tech Insider calling it a "historic battle" that will coincide with "two of the biggest hacking conferences, Blackhat USA and DEFCON". DARPA will supply seven teams with a supercomputer. Their challenge? Create an autonomous A.I. system that can "hunt for security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to attack a computer, create a fix that patches that vulnerability and distribute that patch -- all without any human interference."

"The idea here is to start a technology revolution," said Mike Walker, DARPA's manager for the Cyber Grand Challenge contest. Yahoo Tech notes that it takes an average of 312 days before security vulnerabilities are discovered -- and 24 days to patch it. "if all goes well, the CGC could mean a future where you don't have to worry about viruses or hackers attacking your computer, smartphone or your other connected devices. At a national level, this technology could help prevent large-scale attacks against things like power plants, water supplies and air-traffic infrastructure.

It's being billed as "the world's first all-machine hacking tournament," with a prize of $2 million for the winner, while the second and third place tem will win $1 million and $750,000.
Facebook

Did Armenia Censor Facebook? (mashable.com) 25

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "Only one day after Twitter was throttled in Turkey during an ill-fated coup attempt, social media again seemed to become a target during unrest in Armenia's capital, Yerevan," reports Mashable. A day after Turkey's president declared that Friday's coup has failed, armed men had taken hostages in nearby Armenia, and "The National Security Service accused the hostage takers' supporters of spreading false rumors on the internet about an uprising and the seizure of other buildings," according to Reuters. "Early Sunday, journalists and others in Armenia used Twitter to suggest Facebook had been blocked for a period as the incident unfolded," Mashable reports, noting that later Facebook access appeared to be restored. Facebook was unavailable for comment.
Databases

First Open Source-Based Database Completes U.S. Security Review 49

RaDag writes: The U.S. government has published a DoD-validated implementation guide, known as a STIG, for EDB Postgres Advanced Server from EnterpriseDB (EDB). This is a first. No other open source database, or open source-based database, has been through the US government's security review process and gotten a STIG published. Having this guide will help agencies seeking an open source-based alternative to costly traditional vendors like Oracle [and] will speed and ease deployment of EDB Postgres, which has database compatibility for Oracle.
They're now working with the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, according to a company statement. It also says that the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies "seek open source alternatives to traditional proprietary software," and see their database solution as "an opportunity to quickly reduce costs and shift away from expensive proprietary vendors, particularly as public policy initiatives around the world mandate adoption of more open source."
Businesses

Bird-Shaped Drone Symbolizes New Forms Of Covert Surveillance To Come (mirror.co.uk) 95

One security writer in Somali recently discovered a downed metal drone that had been carefully disguised as a bird, a reminder that drones will bring powerful new forms of surveillance. Slashdot reader Stephen Sellner also shares an article by the CEO of one unmanned systems company who's predicting that the commercial drone industry will create more than 100,000 new jobs and generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy, and suggesting "security of industrial areas (shipyard, storage facility, etc.) can now be augmented by drones to provide a quick eye in the sky."

But it may be inevitable that drones will be used in a variety of unexpected ways. Airbus is also testing the use of drones for quality inspections on their commercial aircraft. In Iowa, a drone helped lead first-responders to a man suffering from a heart attack. And the U.S. wildlife service is planning to drop peanut-butter pellets onto northeastern Montana to deliver vaccines to prairie dogs -- so that they can then in turn be eaten by Montana's population of endangered black-footed ferrets. Any predictions about drone news we'll be seeing in the future?
Microsoft

Microsoft Store Offers Free Laptop If They Can't Upgrade Your PC To Windows 10 (microsoft.com) 126

Microsoft is now promising that their Microsoft Store employees "will give you a free Dell laptop if the staff can't do a same-day upgrade on your eligible PC by close of business," reports new Slashdot submitter Pritam Dash. To be eligible for the Dell Inspiron 15, the PC must meet Microsoft's upgrade requirements -- and be checked in by noon -- and in a further effort to boost adoption for their of the Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft is also announcing that "If your PC isn't compatible with Windows 10, we'll recycle it and give you $150 toward the purchase of a new PC." (This second offer is limited to PCs already running Windows 8). Both offers are valid until July 29th, "while supplies last."

Meanwhile, the U.S. army is "half a year behind the January 2017 deadline to adopt Windows 10 set by Defense Department Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen," and has hired Microsoft engineers to assess their 1.1 million devices and legacy systems.
Government

Russia Is Building a Nuclear Space Bomber (thedailybeast.com) 256

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Daily Beast: The Russian military claims it's making progress on a space plane similar to the U.S. Air Force's secretive X-37B robotic mini-shuttle. The tech is pretty basic. But alone among space-plane developers, the Kremlin is proposing to arm its space plane. With nukes. Lt. Col. Aleksei Solodovnikov, a rocketry instructor at the Russian Strategic Missile Forces Academy in St. Petersburg who is overseeing the space plane's development, said the orbital bomber would be flight-ready by 2020. It's unclear how much money the Kremlin is investing in the project, and how serious senior officers are about actually deploying the space plane, if and when Solodovnikov and his team finish it. In any event, the military space plane could give Russia a potentially history-altering nuclear first-strike capability. "The idea is that the bomber will take off from a normal home airfield to patrol Russian airspace," Solodovnikov said, according to Sputnik, a government-owned news site. "Upon command, it will ascend into outer space, strike a target with nuclear warheads and then return to its home base." Thanks to its orbital capability, the bomber would be able to nuke any target on Earth no longer than two hours after taking off, Solodovnikov claimed.
Earth

Do You Have A Living Doppelgänger? (bbc.com) 142

HughPickens.com writes: Folk wisdom has it that everyone has a doppelganger; somewhere out there there's a perfect duplicate of you, with your mother's eyes, your father's nose and that annoying mole you've always meant to have removed. Now BBC reports that last year Teghan Lucas set out to test the hypothesis that everyone has a living double. Armed with a public collection of photographs of U.S. military personnel and the help of colleagues from the University of Adelaide, Lucas painstakingly analyzed the faces of nearly four thousand individuals, measuring the distances between key features such as the eyes and ears. Next she calculated the probability that two peoples' faces would match. What she found was good news for the criminal justice system, but likely to disappoint anyone pining for their long-lost double: the chances of sharing just eight dimensions with someone else are less than one in a trillion. Even with 7.4 billion people on the planet, that's only a one in 135 chance that there's a single pair of doppelgangers. Lucas says this study has provided much-needed evidence that facial anthropometric measurements are as accurate as fingerprints and DNA when it comes to identifying a criminal. "The use of video surveillance systems for security purposes is increasing and as a result, there are more and more instances of criminals leaving their 'faces' at a scene of a crime," says Ms Lucas. "At the same time, criminals are getting smarter and are avoiding leaving DNA or fingerprint traces at a crime scene." But that's not the whole story. The study relied on exact measurements; if your doppelganger's ears are 59mm but yours are 60mm, your likeness wouldn't count. "It depends whether we mean 'lookalike to a human' or 'lookalike to facial recognition software,'" says David Aldous. If fine details aren't important, suddenly the possibility of having a lookalike looks a lot more realistic. It depends on the way faces are stored in the brain: more like a map than an image. To ensure that friends and acquaintances can be recognized in any context, the brain employs an area known as the fusiform gyrus to tie all the pieces together. This holistic 'sum of the parts' perception is thought to make recognizing friends a lot more accurate than it would be if their features were assessed in isolation. Using this type of analysis, and judging by the number of celebrity look-alikes out there, unless you have particularly rare features, you may have literally thousands of doppelgangers. "I think most people have somebody who is a facial lookalike unless they have a truly exceptional and unusual face," says Francois Brunelle has photographed more than 200 pairs of doppelgangers for his I'm Not a Look-Alike project. "I think in the digital age which we are entering, at some point we will know because there will be pictures of almost everyone online.
Censorship

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube Blocked In Turkey During Reported Coup Attempt (techcrunch.com) 153

An anonymous reader writes: In response to an attempted military coup, the Turkish government has reportedly blocked social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. TechCrunch reports: "Turkey Blocks, a Twitter account that regularly checks if sites are being blocked in the country, reported at 1:04 PM Pacific (11:04 PM Istanbul time) that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were all unresponsive, though Instagram and Vimeo remained available." Some Turkish users were able to update their social media accounts likely through a VPN or other anonymizing service. One user posted a video on Twitter that shows what appears to be a fighter jet flying very low over the Turkish capital of Ankara; another user has tweeted a video of a helicopter opening fire in Turkey. The Associated Press reports that Turkish prime minister, Binali Yildirim, has confirmed the coup by a group within Turkey's military. The following statement from the group was reportedly read on local television: "Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law and the general security that was damaged. All international agreements are still valid. We hope that all of our good relationships with all countries will continue."

UPDATE 7/15/16: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a statement in a FaceTime call to CNN Turk urging Turkish citizens to take to the streets to defend "Turkish democracy." He urges the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports, saying there is no power higher than the power of the people.
Nintendo

In China, Fears That Pokemon Go May Aid Locating Military Bases (reuters.com) 173

The sleeper hit success title Pokemon Go is preventing many people in China from sleeping properly. Although the game isn't officially available in the world's largest smartphone market, some people fear it could become a Trojan horse for "offensive action by the United States and Japan," according to a report by Reuters. "Don't play Pokemon GO!!!" said user Pitaorenzhe on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. "It's so the U.S. and Japan can explore China's secret bases!" From the article: The conspiracy theory is that Japan's Nintendo, which part owns the Pokemon franchise, and America's Google can work out where Chinese military bases are by seeing where users can't go to capture Pokemon characters. The game relies on Google services such as Maps. The theory is that if Nintendo places rare Pokemon in areas where they see players aren't going, and nobody attempts to capture the creature, it can be deduced that the location has restricted access and could be a military zone. "Then, when war breaks out, Japan and the U.S. can easily target their guided missiles, and China will have been destroyed by the invasion of a Japanese-American game," said a social media post circulated on Weibo. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he was unaware of reports that the game could be a security risk and that he didn't have time to play with such things. He gave no further details.
Social Networks

Facebook Sued for $1 Billion for Alleged Use of Medium for Terror (bloomberg.com) 204

A group of Israelis and American lawyers are suing Facebook for a sum of $1 billion in damages for allegedly facilitating deadly Palestinian militant attacks on their loved ones. The application accuses Facebook of helping Hamas militants plot attacks that killed four Americans and wounded one in Israel, the West Bank and Jerusalem. Bloomberg reports:"Facebook has knowingly provided material support and resources to Hamas in the form of Facebook's online social network platform and communication services,â making it liable for the violence against the five Americans, according to the lawsuit sent to Bloomberg by the office of the Israeli lawyer on the case, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., European Union and Israel. The suit said the group used Facebook to share operational and tactical information with members and followers, posting notices of upcoming demonstrations, road closures, Israeli military actions and instructions to operatives to carry out the attacks.
The Military

Stuxnet/Cyberwar Documentary Reviewer: 'The U.S. Has Pwned Iran' (networkworld.com) 138

Slashdot reader alphadogg quotes an article from Network World: The new documentary about Stuxnet, "Zero Days", says the U.S. had a far larger cyber operation against Iran called Nitro Zeus that has compromised the country's infrastructure and could be used as a weapon in any future war. Quoting unnamed sources from inside the NSA and CIA, the movie says the Nitro Zeus program has infiltrated the systems controlling communications, power grids, transportation and financial systems, and is still ready to "disrupt, degrade and destroy" that infrastructure if a war should break out with Iran...

For the more technically inclined, the film contains some riveting interviews with researchers at Symantec who devoted their lives to unraveling the code line by line to figure out what it did, how it did it, who created it and what the target was. It was also a bit chilling in that after they figured out that governments were behind the worm they worried that the researchers themselves might be targeted to keep them silent. One Friday night, says Symantec researcher Eric Chien, he said to his research partner Liam O Murchu, "I'm not suicidal. If I should show up dead on Monday, it wasn't me."

In the film former NSA and CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden says "This stuff is hideously over classified."
Robotics

Using a Bomb Robot to Kill a Suspect Is an Unprecedented Shift in Policing (vice.com) 983

A police standoff with a suspect in the killing of five police officers in Dallas came to an abrupt end on Friday morning in an unusual way. The police said that negotiations broke down, an exchange of gunfire happened, but then they had no option but to use "bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was." Motherboard explains the unprecedented shift in policing. From an article: Peter W. Singer, an expert in military technology and robot warfare at the New America Foundation, tweeted that this is the first known incident of a domestic police force using a robot to kill a suspect. Singer tweeted that in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers have strapped claymore mines to the $8,000 MARCbot using duct tape to turn them into jury-rigged killing devices. Singer says all indications are that the Dallas Police Department did something similar in this case -- it improvised to turn a surveillance robot into a killing machine. Improvised device or not, the concerns here mirror a debate that's been going on for a few years now: Should law enforcement have access to armed drones, or, for that matter, weaponized robots? In 2013 Kentucky Senator Rand Paul staged a 13-hour filibuster that was focused entirely on concerns about the use of armed drones on US soil. Last year, North Dakota became the first state to legalize nonlethal, weaponized drones for its police officers. [...] The ability for police to remotely kill suspects raises due process concerns. If a shooter is holed up and alone, can they be qualified as an imminent threat to life? Are there clear protocols about when a robot can be used to engage a suspect versus when a human needs to engage him or her? When can the use of lethal force be administered remotely?
AI

AI Downs 'Top Gun' Pilot In Dogfights (dailymail.co.uk) 441

schwit1 writes from a report via Daily Mail: [Daily Mail reports:] "The Artificial intelligence (AI) developed by a University of Cincinnati doctoral graduate was recently assessed by retired USAF Colonel Gene Lee -- who holds extensive aerial combat experience as an instructor and Air Battle Manager with considerable fighter aircraft expertise. He took on the software in a simulator. Lee was not able to score a kill after repeated attempts. He was shot out of the air every time during protracted engagements, and according to Lee, is 'the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI I've seen to date.'" And why is the US still throwing money at the F35, unless it can be flown without pilots. The AI, dubbed ALPHA, features a genetic fuzzy tree decision-making system, which is a subtype of fuzzy logic algorithms. The system breaks larger tasks into smaller tasks, which include high-level tactics, firing, evasion, and defensiveness. It can calculate the best maneuvers in various, changing environments over 250 times faster than its human opponent can blink. Lee says, "I was surprised at how aware and reactive it was. It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment. It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking. It moved instantly between defensive and offensive actions as needed."
Education

New 'Civilization' Game Will Be Sold To Schools As An Educational Tool (technobuffalo.com) 198

An anonymous reader writes: In the fall of 2017, a special version of Civilization V will be made available for schools to use as an educational tool. "CivilizationEDU will provide students with the opportunity to think critically and create historical events, consider and evaluate the geographical ramifications of their economic and technological decisions, and to engage in systems thinking and experiment with the causal/correlative relationships between military, technology, political and socioeconomic development," announced Take-Two Interactive Software.

"We are incredibly proud to lend one of our industry's most beloved series to educators to use as a resource to inspire and engage students further..." said the company's CEO. "I can't think of a better interactive experience to help challenge and shape the minds of tomorrow's leaders."

Special lesson plans will be created around the game, and as an alternative to standardized tests teachers will have access to a dashboard showing each student's progress. Of course, this begs an important question: Are educational videogames a good idea?
AI

Boston Dynamics' SpotMini Is All Electric, Agile, and Has A Capable Face-Arm (ieee.org) 36

An anonymous reader writes: Boston Dynamics has shown the world their "fun-sizeified version of their Spot quadruped," the SpotMini robot. It's a quiet, all electric machine that features a googley-eyed face-arm. IEEE Spectrum notes some observations made from watching their YouTube video. First of all, the SpotMini appears to be waterproof and doesn't rely on hydraulics like the other more powerful robots of theirs. The SpotMini is likely operated by a human, and is not autonomous, though the self-righting could be an autonomous behavior. The video appears to show two separate versions of the SpotMini: an undressed and dressed variant (it's hard to tell if the "dressed" variant features differing components/abilities). There is a MultiSense S7 video camera on the front, some other camera-based vision system on the front, a butt-mounted Velodyne VLP-16 system, and what may be a small camera on the face-arm's mouth. One particularly noteworthy observation is that during much of the video, the SpotMini is traversing through a house. In other Boston Dynamics demo videos, the robots are outside. The author of the report says, "[...] it wouldn't surprise me if we're looking at an attempt to make an (relatively) affordable robot that can do practical things for people who aren't in the military."
Censorship

The New Censorship: 'How Did Google Become The Internet's Censor and Master Manipulator?' (usnews.com) 246

An anonymous reader writes: Robert Epstein from U.S. News and World Report writes an article describing how Google has become the internet's censor and master manipulator. He writes about the company's nine different blacklists that impact our lives: autocomplete blacklist, Google Maps blacklist, YouTube blacklist, Google account blacklist, Google News blacklist, Google AdWords blacklist, Google AdSense blacklist, search engine blacklist, and quarantine list. The autocomplete blacklist filters out select phrases like profanities and other controversial terms like "torrent," "bisexual" and "penis." It can also be used to protect or discredit political candidates. For example, at the moment autocomplete shows you "Ted" (for former GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz) when you type "lying," but it will not show you "Hillary" when you type "crooked." While Google Maps photographs your home for everyone to see, Google maintains a list of properties it either blacks out or blurs out in its images depending on the property, e.g. military installations or wealthy residences. Epstein makes the case that while YouTube allows users to flag videos, Google employees seem far more apt to ban politically conservative videos than liberal ones. As for the Google account blacklist, you may lose access to a number of Google's products, which are all bundled into one account as of a couple of years ago, if you violate Google's terms of service agreement because Google reserves the right to "stop providing Services to you ... at any time." Google is the largest news aggregator in the world via Google News. Epstein writes, "Selective blacklisting of news sources is a powerful way of promoting a political, religious or moral agenda, with no one the wiser." Google can easily put a business out of business if a Google executive decides your business or industry doesn't meet its moral standards and revokes a business' access to Google AdWords, which makes up 70 percent of Google's $80 billion in annual revenue. Recently, Google blacklisted an entire industry -- companies providing high-interest "payday" loans. If your website has been approved by AdWords, Google's search engine is what ultimately determines the success of your business as its algorithms can be tweaked and search rankings can be manipulated, which may ruin businesses. Epstein makes an interesting case for how Google has become the internet's censor and master manipulator. Given Google's online dominance, do you think Google should be regulated like a public utility?
Oracle

Those 100,000 Lost Air Force Files Have Been Found Again (govexec.com) 36

The Air Force now says it will be able to recover those 100,000 investigation files dating back to 2004, after "aggressively leveraging all vendor and department capabilities." An anonymous reader quotes a report from Government Executive about the mysteriously corrupted database: In a short, four-sentence statement released midday on Wednesday, service officials said the Air Force continues to investigate the embarrassing incident in which the files and their backups were corrupted. "Through extensive data recovery efforts over the weekend and this week, the Air Force has been able to regain access to the data in the Air Force Inspector General Automated Case Tracking System..." the statement reads. Earlier on Wednesday, the Air Force chief of staff said that the effort to recover the files involved Lockheed Martin and Oracle, the two defense contractors that run the database, plus Air Force cyber and defense cyber crime personnel.
The Chief of Staff hopes "there won't be a long-term impact, other than making sure we understand exactly what happened, how it happened and how we keep it from ever happening again." The Air Force is conducting an independent review, while Lockheed Martin is now also performing a separate internal review.

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