Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×
Businesses

MasterCard Is Buying the Core of the British Payments Infrastructure (fortune.com) 26

Mastercard has agreed to purchase a controlling stake in VocalLink, the payments processor that handles most payroll and household bill processing in the UK. The American payment giant will be paying up to $1.14 billion. Fortune reports: According to MasterCard MA, the deal would create "the first true combination of the traditional person-to-merchant cards business with a clearing business." That is, of course, presuming it clears regulatory scrutiny. VocaLink runs Link, the network that provides interoperability between British ATMs, as well as BACS, the clearing house for payments between bank accounts, and Faster Payments, the inter-bank transfer system for Internet and telephone-based payments.FastCompany explains what this could mean for MasterCard users.
PlayStation (Games)

Sony Is the Only Remaining Obstacle To PS4-Xbox Cross-Play (kotaku.com) 53

In March, Microsoft announced native support for cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10. At the time, the company also added that this support could be extended to "other console and PC networks," something which led people to wonder if truly cross-platform gaming, on any platform, was next. When asked, Sony did say that it was open to the idea. "PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross-platform play." But since then, it appears that Sony has had a change of heart, which has resulted in developers asking the company for an update. Kotaku reports: In recent days, the developers behind Rocket League and The Witcher 3 have both called for Sony to break down the walls separating PlayStation Network and Xbox Live and allow cross-platform multiplayer. What's changed in the last few days are developers making an open call for Sony to make good on having that conversation with publishers and developers. In an interview with IGN, Psyonix president Jeremy Dunham explained how the Rocket League developer had already taken care of the technical side of things. "We're literally at the point where all we need is the go-ahead on the Sony side," said Dunham, "and we can, in less than a business day, turn it on and have it up and working no problem. It'd literally take a few hours to propagate throughout the whole world, so really we're just waiting on the permission to do so." In another statement to IGN, CD Projekt RED CEO Marcin Iwinski supported Psyonix.
Verizon

Verizon To Disconnect Unlimited Data Customers Who Use Over 100GB/Month 404

Verizon Wireless customers who have an unlimited data plan and use significantly more than 100GB a month will soon be disconnected from the network unless they agree to move to limited data packages that require payment of overage fees. Ars Technica reports: Verizon stopped offering unlimited data to new smartphone customers a few years ago, but some customers have been able to hang on to the old plans instead of switching to ones with monthly data limits. Verizon has tried to convert the holdouts by raising the price $20 a month and occasionally throttling heavy users but stopped that practice after net neutrality rules took effect. Now Verizon is implementing a formal policy for disconnecting the heaviest users.In a statement, Verizon said: "Because our network is a shared resource and we need to ensure all customers have a great mobile experience with Verizon, we are notifying a very small group of customers on unlimited plans who use an extraordinary amount of data that they must move to one of the new Verizon Plans by August 31, 2016." a Verizon spokesperson told Ars. "These users are using data amounts well in excess of our largest plan size (100GB). While the Verizon Plan at 100GB is designed to be shared across multiple users, each line receiving notification to move to the new Verizon Plan is using well in excess of that on a single device." FYI: The 100GB plan costs $450 a month.
Advertising

China Bans Ad Blocking (adexchanger.com) 103

An anonymous reader writes: Two weeks ago, China released its first ever set of digital ad regulations that impacted Chinese market leaders like Baidu and Alibaba. "But hidden among (the new regulations) is language that would seem to all but ban ad blocking," wrote Adblock Plus (ABP) operations manager Ben Williams in a blog post Wednesday. The new regulations prohibit "the use of network access, network devices, applications, and the disruption of normal advertising data, tampering with or blocking others doing advertising business (or) unauthorized loading the ad." There is also a clause included that addresses tech companies that "intercept, filter, cover, fast-forward and [impose] other restrictions" on online ad campaigns. ABP general counsel Kai Recke said in an email to AdExchanger that the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has much more control over the market than its otherwise equal U.S. counterpart, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). "After all it looks like the Chinese government tries to get advertising more under their control and that includes that they want to be the only ones to be allowed to remove or alter ads," said Recke. "Ad-block users are a distinct audience and they require a distinct strategy and ways to engage them," said ABP CEO Till Faida at AdExchanger's Clean Ads I/O earlier this year. "They have different standards they've expressed for accessing them, and advertising has to reflect that."
The Internet

Engineer Gets Tired Of Waiting For Telecom Companies To Wire His town -- So He Does It Himself (backchannel.com) 104

Gurb, 75 kilometers north of Barcelona, is a quiet farming community of 2,500. It has suddenly become a popular place, thanks to being the birthplace of Guifi.net, one of the world's "most important experiments in telecommunications." It was built by an engineer who got tired of waiting for Telefonica, the Spanish telecom giant, to provide internet access to the people of his community. At first he wanted an internet access for himself, but it soon became clear that he also wanted to help his neighbors. Guifi has grown from a single wifi node in 2004, to 30,000 working nodes today, including some fiber connections, with thousands more in the planning stages. An article on Backchannel today documents the tale of Guifi. From the article: The project is a testament to tireless efforts -- in governance, not just in adding hardware and software -- by Ramon Roca (the engineer who started it) and his colleagues. They've been unwavering in their commitment to open access, community control, network neutrality, and sustainability. In 2004, he bought some Linksys WiFI hackable routers with a mission to get himself and his neighbors connected to the Internet. This is how he did it: Roca turned on a router with a directional antenna he'd installed at the top of a tall building near the local government headquarters, the only place in town with Internet access -- a DSL line Telefonica had run to municipal governments throughout the region. The antenna was aimed, line of sight, toward Roca's home about six kilometers away. Soon, neighbors started asking for connections, and neighbors of neighbors, and so on. Beyond the cost of the router, access was free. Some nodes were turned into "supernodes" -- banks of routers in certain locations, or dedicated gear that accomplishes the same thing -- that could handle much more traffic in more robust ways. The network connected to high-capacity fiber optic lines, to handle the growing demand, and later connected to a major "peering" connection to the global Internet backbone that provides massive bandwidth. Guifi grew, and grew, and grew. But soon it became clear that connecting more and more nodes wasn't enough, so he created a not-for-profit entity, the Guifi.net Foundation. The foundation, thanks to its cause and a cheerful community, has received over a million Euros to date -- from various sources including several levels of government. But as the article notes, a million Euros is a drop in the bucket next to the lavish subsidies and favors that state-approved monopolies such as Telefonica have enjoyed for decades. The article adds: The Guifi Foundation isn't the paid provider of most Internet service to end-user (home and business) customers. That role falls to more than 20 for-profit internet service providers that operate on the overall platform. The ISPs share infrastructure costs according to how much demand they put on the overall system. They pay fees to the foundation for its services -- a key source of funding for the overall project. Then they offer various kinds of services to end users, such as installing connections -- lately they've been install fiber-optic access in some communities -- managing traffic flows, offering email, handling customer and technical support, and so on. The prices these ISPs charge are, to this American (Editor's note: the author is referring to himself) who's accustomed to broadband-cartel greed, staggeringly inexpensive: 18 to 35 Euros (currently about $26-$37) a month for gigabit fiber, and much less for slower WiFi. Community ownership and ISP competition does wonders for affordability. Contrast this with the U.S. broadband system, where competitive dial-up phone access -- phone companies were obliged to let all ISPs use the lines as the early commercial Internet flourished in the 1990s -- gave way to a cartel of DSL and cable providers. Except in a few places where there's actual competition, we pay way more for much less.Read the story in its entirety here.
Security

Software Flaw Puts Mobile Phones and Networks At Risk Of Complete Takeover (arstechnica.com) 51

Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica: A newly disclosed vulnerability could allow attackers to seize control of mobile phones and key parts of the world's telecommunications infrastructure and make it possible to eavesdrop or disrupt entire networks, security experts warned Tuesday. The bug resides in a code library used in a wide range of telecommunication products, including radios in cell towers, routers, and switches, as well as the baseband chips in individual phones. Although exploiting the heap overflow vulnerability would require great skill and resources, attackers who managed to succeed would have the ability to execute malicious code on virtually all of those devices. The code library was developed by Pennsylvania-based Objective Systems and is used to implement a telephony standard known as ASN.1, short for Abstract Syntax Notation One."The vulnerability could be triggered remotely without any authentication in scenarios where the vulnerable code receives and processes ASN.1 encoded data from untrusted sources," researchers who discovered the flaw wrote in an advisory published Monday evening. "These may include communications between mobile devices and telecommunication network infrastructure nodes, communications between nodes in a carrier's network or across carrier boundaries, or communication between mutually untrusted endpoints in a data network."
Facebook

Facebook Messenger Hits 1B Monthly Active Users, Accounts For 10 Percent Of All VoIP Calls (techcrunch.com) 55

Speaking of instant messaging and VoIP call apps, Facebook announced on Wednesday that Facebook Messenger has hit the 1 billion monthly active users milestone. The company adds that Messenger is just more than a text messenger -- in addition to the ambitious bot gamble, a digital assistant, and the ability to send money to friends -- Messenger now accounts for 10 percent of all VoIP calls made globally. Messenger's tremendous growth also underscores Facebook's mammoth capture of the world. The social network is used by more than 1.6 billion people actively every month. WhatsApp, the chat client it owns, is also used by more than one billion people.

TechCrunch has a brilliant story on the growth of Messenger from the scratch.
Microsoft

Skype Finalizes Its Move To the Cloud; To Kill Older Clients -- Remains Tight Lipped About Privacy (arstechnica.com) 74

When it was first created, Skype network was built as a decentralized peer-to-peer system. PCs that had enough processing muscle and bandwidth acted as "supernodes," and coordinated connections between other machines on the network. This p2p system was generally perceived as being relatively private, a belief that has since been debunked. There were several technical challenges, which led Microsoft to move most of Skype's operations to the cloud. Ars Technica is reporting that the company has finalized the switch. From the article: Microsoft has developed a more conventional client-server network, with clients that act as pure clients and dedicated cloud servers. The company is starting to transition to this network exclusively. This transition means that old peer-to-peer Skype clients will cease to work. Clients for the new network will be available for Windows XP and up, OS X Yosemite and up, iOS 8 and up, and Android 4.03 and up. However, certain embedded clients -- in particular, those integrated into smart TVs and available for the PlayStation 3 -- are being deprecated, with no replacement. Microsoft says that since those clients are little used and since almost every user of those platforms has other Skype-capable devices available, it is no longer worth continuing to support them.The issue, as the report points out, is that Microsoft is strangely not talking about privacy and security concerns. The article adds: The Ed Snowden leaks raised substantial questions about the privacy of services such as Skype and have caused an increasing interest in platforms that offer end-to-end encryption. The ability to intercept or wiretap Skype came as a shock to many, especially given Skype's traditionally peer-to-peer infrastructure. Accordingly, we've seen similar services such as iMessage, WhatsApp, and even Facebook Messenger, start introducing end-to-end encryption. The abandonment of Skype's peer-to-peer system can only raise suspicions here.Matthew Green, who teaches cryptography at Johns Hopkins, said: "The surprising thing here is not that Microsoft can intercept Skype calls (duh) but that they won't just admit it."
The Almighty Buck

Marissa Mayer Says Yahoo Continues To Make Solid Progress, Earnings Report Says Otherwise (fool.com) 129

tomhath quotes a report from Fool: Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer tried to emphasize the progress that the company has made. "We continue to make solid progress against our 2016 plan," Mayer said, and "in addition to our efforts to improve the operating business, our board has made great progress on strategic alternatives." The CEO argued that the results met or exceeded the company's own guidance. Yahoo! was able to post a revenue increase by changing the ways that it presents revenue related to its search agreement with Microsoft, and without that change, adjusted revenue of $1.055 billion was down 15% from the year-ago quarter. That was even worse than the 13% drop investors were expecting, and adjusted EBITDA fell by more than a third. That resulted in adjusted net earnings of $0.09 per share, missing the consensus forecast by a penny but also glossing over a $440 million net loss on a GAAP basis. The company took a $395 million goodwill impairment charge and an $87 million intangibles impairment charge related to its Tumblr unit, determining that the fair value of the division is less than the amount indicated on Yahoo!'s balance sheet. It was also revealed that Yahoo is writing down the value of its Tumblr acquisition by $482 million, citing lower projections for the social network's future performance, according to a report from CNNMoney. Last quarter, the company took a $230 million write-down on its Tumblr acquisition. Since Yahoo acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion in 2013, Yahoo has written down more than half of its value.
Communications

BuzzFeed and Washington Post To Use Robots For RNC Coverage (engadget.com) 80

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Engadget: The Washington Post and Buzzfeed have sent robots to cover the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The Washington Post is using a telepresence robot from Double Robotics that consists of an iPad mounted on a Segway-like base. It's objective: to roam around the convention, streaming live on Periscope. Those viewing the stream will be able to ask questions of delegates, politicians and other figures who stumble upon the robot. BuzzFeed is using a robot called 'BuzzBot.' It's a Facebook chat bot that collects and caters news from the convention to users' messaging feeds. All you have to do is add the channel to your Messenger app and it will deliver news updates from BuzzFeed reporters. Specifically, it will collect reports from delegates, protesters and others in Cleveland. You have the option to send pictures and other info to BuzzBot, but it may ask you questions about your experience. The questions it asks will be different depending on your location. For example, if you live in Cleveland it will want to know what kind of impact the RNC is having on your daily life. Meanwhile, with roughly 50,000 attendees and likely millions of viewers watching across the country and abroad, the RNC is preparing for cyberattacks that aim to disrupt the network.
Republicans

RNC Is Preparing For Cyberattacks (cnbc.com) 96

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNBC: The Republican National Convention will be a popular target for cyberattacks. An official in charge of securing the network has said the RNC already had to fend off a wave of cyberattacks before the convention opened. Many more attacks are expected throughout the convention ranging from "nation-states hunting for intelligence or protesters trying to disrupt the network at the convention," said the consulting chief information officer for the RNC, Max Everett. Donald Trump's campaign appears to only fuel attackers, security experts said. The convention opens Monday afternoon and will attract roughly 50,000 people in addition to a global audience watching from afar. "A successful attack could impact physical security on the ground, for example, by taking connected security scanners offline. It could also affect online activity, for example, by hijacking the livestream and derailing the GOP's message," reports CNBC. The Secret Service has designated the conventions "national special security events." Everett and his team of 70 IT specialists will be using Microsoft and ForeScout software to monitor the network in real time, working with ATT and Cisco on securing external access to the network and a firm called Dark Cubed to share real-time threat information among the firms trying to defend against cyberattacks.
Television

Star Trek CBS Series To Be Streamed Internationally On Netflix (variety.com) 161

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix has announced that it has secured a deal to stream every episode of the new Star Trek TV series within 24 hours of its original network broadcast. However, neither the U.S. nor Canadian subscribers are included in the deal, which otherwise covers every territory that Netflix operates in worldwide. Stateside viewers will be able to stream the new show via CBS's own All Access digital subscription video-on-demand and live streaming service, with Canadian streaming provisions yet to be announced. The deal represents a potential major step forward in the company's determination to bypass regional licensing, and at one stroke eliminates the typical years of delay that occur when a U.S. program seeks foreign audiences.
Bug

Juniper OS Flaw Allowed Forged Certificates (arstechnica.com) 26

Slashdot reader disccomp shares an article from Ars Technica: In an advisory posted Wednesday, Juniper officials said they just fixed a bug in the company's Junos operating system that allowed adversaries to masquerade as trusted parties. The impersonation could be carried out by presenting a forged cryptographic certificate that was signed by the attacker rather than by a trusted certificate authority that normally vets the identity of the credential holder...

"It seems that Junos was accepting specially crafted, invalid certificates as trusted," said Stephen Checkoway, a computer scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago who recently focused on security in Juniper products. "This would enable anyone to create a VPN connection and gain access to the private network, e.g., a private, corporate network."

Open Source

AT&T Open Sources Its SDN Framework To The Linux Foundation (fiercetelecom.com) 42

An anonymous reader writes "It's no secret that AT&T has been planning to move to a software-defined network for quite a while. Now, they've decided to open-source the whole thing." From Fierce Telecom: AT&T today announced it will release its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform to the wider telecom industry as an open source offering managed by the Linux Foundation. The goal, the company said, is to make ECOMP the telecom industry's standard automation platform for managing virtual network functions and other software-centric network capabilities.
AT&T delivered 8.5 million lines of code to the Linux Foundation on Wednesday, saying "We want to build a community -- where people contribute to the code base and advance the platform..." AT&T said Wednesday they've already received interest from other major telecoms, and "we want this to help align the global industry." While their ultimate goal is to virtualize 75% of their own network by 2020, at least one analyst sees a larger trend where the whole telecom industry collectively bypasses equipment vendors and begins "taking network innovation into its own hands."
Government

Jill Stein Pledges To Pardon Snowden and Appoint Him To Her Cabinet (zerohedge.com) 175

Iamthecheese writes: Trump hates him. Clinton misrepresented him. Most mainstream media outlets call him a traitor and worse. But if you vote Stein, Snowden will be in the presidential Cabinet. "The presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein promises to grant NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden -- who many describe as a true American hero -- not just a full pardon, but a promotion to the upper echelons of government should she win the White House," reports Zero Hedge. "[Snowden] has done an incredible service to our country at great cost to himself for having to live away from his family, his friends, his job, his network, to basically live as an expatriate," Stein asserted during a town hall live-streamed to supporters on her Facebook page, US Uncut reported. "I would say not only bring Snowden back, but bring him into my administration as a member of the Cabinet," she continued, "because we need people who are part of our national security administration who are really, very patriotic. If we're really going to protect our American security, we also have to protect our Constitutional rights, and that includes our right to privacy." Her pardons would also extend to CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou and Chelsea Manning. Kiriakou first revealed proof of waterboarding and various other torture tactics employed by the government, while Manning leaked the Afghan War Diary and Iraq War Logs, which included footage of U.S. helicopter airmen deliberately gunning down journalists, to Wikileaks. Reddit co-founder and MIT student, Aaron Swartz, who leaked academic research to the public, would also receive a pardon under her presidency. "[Swartz] was a proponent of free and liberated internet and for sharing our resources on that internet, who was basically hounded into suicide by a very oppressive Department of Justice. So, he -- in my mind -- is another one of these heroes that we need to remember and be very thankful for."
Security

Fake Pokemon Go App On Google Play Infects Phones With Screenlocker (arstechnica.com) 48

Everytime an app gets insanely popular, vicious minds try to capitalize on the momentum -- and history suggests, Android is their most-targetted platform. So it wasn't really a big surprise when security researchers at Eset announced on Friday that at least three fake, possibly malicious Pokemon Go app have made it to Google Play, Android's marquee app store. From an Ars Technica report: Of the three, the one titled "Pokemon Go Ultimate" posed the biggest threat because it deliberately locks the screen of devices immediately after being installed. In many cases, restarting an infected phone isn't enough to unlock the screen. Infected phones can ultimately be unlocked either by removing the battery or by using the Android Device Manager. Once the screen has been unlocked and the device has restarted, the app -- which by now has the title PI Network --is removed from the device's app menu. Still, it continues to run in the background and surreptitiously clicks on ads in an attempt to generate revenue for its creators. Eset discovered two other fake Pokemon Go apps inhabiting Google Play, one named "Guide & Cheats for Pokemon Go" and the other "Install Pokemongo." Both deliver ads carrying fraudulent, scary-sounding messages that are designed to trick users into buying expensive, unnecessary services. One such message claims the device is infected with malware and prompts the user to spend money to get the malicious apps removed.
Facebook

Facebook Makes Little Progress in Race and Gender Diversity (theguardian.com) 200

An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report: Facebook has said about one-third of its workers are female, while black employees accounted for 3% of its US senior leadership, both numbers only slightly higher than a year earlier. The data released by the world's largest social network on Thursday reflects the scant progress made by Silicon Valley heavyweights in making their workplaces more diverse in the face of criticism for having mostly white, male workers. Last month, Alphabet's Google released data on diversity, saying it had more black, Latino and female employees but still lagged its goal of mirroring the population. Women represented 33% of Facebook's global workforce, according to data from 30 June, compared with 32% a year earlier. Women held 27% of senior leadership roles, up from last year's 23%.
Bitcoin

'Tor and Bitcoin Hinder Anti-Piracy Efforts' (torrentfreak.com) 103

An anonymous reader writes: A new report published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office identifies a wide range of 'business models' that are used by pirate sites. The organization, which announced a new collaboration with Europol this week, signals Bitcoin and the Tor network as two key threats to ongoing anti-piracy efforts. According to the research, several infringing business models rely on encryption-based technologies. The Tor network and Bitcoin, for example, are repeatedly mentioned as part of this "shadow landscape." "It more and more relies on new encrypted technologies like the TOR browser and the Bitcoin virtual currency, which are employed by infringers of IPR to generate income and hide the proceeds of crime from the authorities," the report reads.
EU

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Makes a Last-Minute Plea To Save Net Neutrality in Europe (theverge.com) 44

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Verge: Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who created the world wide web, is calling on regulators in Europe to protect net neutrality and "save the open internet." In a letter released this week, Berners-Lee, Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick, and Harvard law professor Larry Lessig urged European regulators to implement guidelines that would close loopholes in net neutrality legislation that the European Parliament approved in October 2015. They also called on internet users to voice their opposition online, before the public consultation period on the guidelines ends on July 18th. "Network neutrality for hundreds of millions of Europeans is within our grasp," the letter reads. "Securing this is essential to preserve the open Internet as a driver for economic growth and social progress. But the public needs to tell regulators now to strengthen safeguards, and not cave in to telecommunications carriers' manipulative tactics."

Slashdot Top Deals