FBI Director: Without Compromise on Encryption, Legislation May Be the 'Remedy'

3 days 3 hours ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday that unless the U.S. government and private industry are able to come to a compromise on the issue of default encryption on consumer devices, legislation may be how the debate is ultimately decided. "I think there should be [room for compromise]," Wray said Wednesday night at a national security conference in Aspen, Colorado. "I don't want to characterize private conversations we're having with people in the industry. We're not there yet for sure. And if we can't get there, there may be other remedies, like legislation, that would have to come to bear." Wray described the issue of "Going Dark" because of encryption as a "significant" and "growing" problem for federal, state and local law enforcement as well as foreign law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He claims strong encryption on mobile phones keeps law enforcement from gaining access to key evidence as it relates to active criminal investigations. "People are less safe as a result of it," he said.

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Microsoft's Plan To Try To Win Back Consumers With 'Modern Life Services'

3 days 3 hours ago
It's not a secret that Microsoft hasn't been winning the hearts and minds of consumers lately. Killing off products like the Groove Music service, Microsoft Band fitness tracker, and Windows Phone have left many questioning whether Microsoft's grand plan is to simply focus on business users and leave consumers to its competitors. But at the company's Inspire partner show this week, Microsoft execs told partners that Redmond isn't giving up on consumers. From a report: Yusuf Mehdi -- whose new title as of June 2018 became corporate vice president of Modern Life and Devices -- led a session at the partner show in Las Vegas, Nev., where he outlined the company's vision for what officials plan to christen "Modern Life Services." Microsoft's core value proposition is productivity, he said. Microsoft is targeting so-called "professional consumers" with these services, Mehdi said. Microsoft officials believe because the company already "owns the work calendar with Outlook," that it has a foothold in working to blur the line between consumer and commercial activities. What, exactly, will qualify as a Modern Life Service? Mostly they will be apps, services, and features that Microsoft already makes available or soon will in Windows, Outlook, and PowerPoint, but which officials will attempt to position as well suited to the needs of professional consumers on Windows PCs, iPhones and Android phones.

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Senate Wants Netflix, Spotify To Send Out Federal Emergency Alerts

3 days 4 hours ago
Senators in Hawaii and South Dakota have introduced a bill, called the "Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) act, that would "explore" broadcasting alerts to "online streaming services, such as Netflix and Spotify," amongst other changes to the Emergency Alert System. TechCrunch reports: Some of the other things the bill touches on: - Users on many phones can currently disable federal alerts; they want to get rid of that option - Building a better system for reporting false alarms and figuring out what happened - Updating the system to better prevent false alarms, and to better retract them when they do happen

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Fukushima's Nuclear Signature Found In California Wine

3 days 5 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: Is it possible to see the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in California wines produced at the time? Today we get an answer, thanks to a study carried out by french pharmacologist Philippe Hubert and a couple of colleagues. "In January 2017, we came across a series of Californian wines (Cabernet Sauvignon) from vintage 2009 to 2012," say Hubert and company. This set of wines provides the perfect test. The Fukushima disaster occurred on March 11, 2011. Any wine made before that date should be free of the effects, while any dating from afterward could show them. The team began their study with the conventional measurement of cesium-137 levels in the unopened bottles. That showed levels to be indistinguishable from background noise. But the team was able to carry out more-sensitive tests by opening the wine and reducing it to ash by evaporation. This involves heating the wine to 100 degrees Celsius for one hour and then increasing the temperature to 500 degrees Celsius for eight hours. In this way, a standard 750-milliliter bottle of wine produces around four grams of ashes. The ashes were then placed in a gamma ray detector to look for signs of cesium-137. Using this method, Hubert and his colleagues found measurable amounts of cesium-137 above background levels in the wine produced after 2011. "It seems there is an increase in activity in 2011 by a factor of two," conclude the team.

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Fukushima's Nuclear Signature Found In California Wine

3 days 5 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: Is it possible to see the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in California wines produced at the time? Today we get an answer, thanks to a study carried out by french pharmacologist Philippe Hubert and a couple of colleagues. "In January 2017, we came across a series of Californian wines (Cabernet Sauvignon) from vintage 2009 to 2012," say Hubert and company. This set of wines provides the perfect test. The Fukushima disaster occurred on March 11, 2011. Any wine made before that date should be free of the effects, while any dating from afterward could show them. The team began their study with the conventional measurement of cesium-137 levels in the unopened bottles. That showed levels to be indistinguishable from background noise. But the team was able to carry out more-sensitive tests by opening the wine and reducing it to ash by evaporation. This involves heating the wine to 100 degrees Celsius for one hour and then increasing the temperature to 500 degrees Celsius for eight hours. In this way, a standard 750-milliliter bottle of wine produces around four grams of ashes. The ashes were then placed in a gamma ray detector to look for signs of cesium-137. Using this method, Hubert and his colleagues found measurable amounts of cesium-137 above background levels in the wine produced after 2011. "It seems there is an increase in activity in 2011 by a factor of two," conclude the team.

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Google's Loon Brings Internet-By-Balloon To Kenya

3 days 5 hours ago
A network of giant balloons will soon bring internet access to remote regions of rural Kenya. From a report: Google's sister-company Loon has announced its first commercial deal: partnering with Telkom Kenya to deliver connectivity to the region. The firm's antennae-dangling fleet will ride the wind high above parts of the African country. But experts have warned that the partnership could lead to a communications monopoly.

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Killer Robots Would Be 'Dangerously Destabilizing' Force in the World, Tech Leaders Warn

3 days 6 hours ago
Thousands of artificial intelligence experts are calling on governments to take preemptive action before it's too late. The list is extensive and includes some of the most influential names in the overlapping worlds of technology, science and academia. From a report: Among them are billionaire inventor and OpenAI founder Elon Musk, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, artificial intelligence researcher Stuart Russell, as well as the three founders of Google DeepMind -- the company's premier machine learning research group. In total, more than 160 organizations and 2,460 individuals from 90 countries promised this week to not participate in or support the development and use of lethal autonomous weapons. The pledge says artificial intelligence is expected to play an increasing role in military systems and calls upon governments and politicians to introduce laws regulating such weapons "to create a future with strong international norms." "Thousands of AI researchers agree that by removing the risk, attributability, and difficulty of taking human lives, lethal autonomous weapons could become powerful instruments of violence and oppression, especially when linked to surveillance and data systems," the pledge says. "Moreover, lethal autonomous weapons have characteristics quite different from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the unilateral actions of a single group could too easily spark an arms race that the international community lacks the technical tools and global governance systems to manage," the pledge adds.

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Microsoft Reveals First Known Midterm Campaign Hacking Attempts

3 days 7 hours ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Microsoft detected and helped block hacking attempts against three congressional candidates this year, a company executive said Thursday, marking the first known example of cyber interference in the midterm elections. "Earlier this year, we did discover that a fake Microsoft domain had been established as the landing page for phishing attacks," said Tom Burt, Microsoft's vice president for security and trust, at the Aspen Security Forum. "And we saw metadata that suggested those phishing attacks were being directed at three candidates who are all standing for election in the midterm elections." Burt declined to name the targets but said they were "people who, because of their positions, might have been interesting targets from an espionage standpoint as well as an election disruption standpoint." Microsoft took down the fake domain and worked with the federal government to block the phishing messages.

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Tech Chief Role Grows More Strategic, Survey Finds

3 days 8 hours ago
The rise of digital capabilities continues to elevate the role of IT leaders across the enterprise, moving them beyond back-office tech hubs and increasingly closer to products, services and customers, Korn/Ferry International reports. WSJ: In a recent survey, 83% of 199 technology chiefs said their role was more strategic than it was three years ago. Another 67% said they were on their company's executive committee, up from 55% in a similar survey last year, the executive-search firm said. As they shift from back-office technicians, 81% said they are now playing a greater role with customers, products and services than they were three years ago. The survey included responses from chief information officers, as well as chief technology and chief digital officers, at large businesses in a range of industries. "Based on the need to drive results, many companies are leveraging and deploying results-oriented technology leaders to drive the intersection of technology, product and digital efforts," Craig Stephenson, Korn Ferry managing director, North America Technology Officers Practice, told CIO Journal. He said the impact and scope of CIOs, CTOs and CDOs on the business side of operations is evolving rapidly and expected to expand even more in the years ahead. Further reading: Nicholas Carr was right --IT died, but was resurrected

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Hackers Breach Russian Bank and Steal $1 Million Due To Outdated Router

3 days 8 hours ago
Catalin Cimpanu, reporting for BleepingComputer: A notorious hacker group known as MoneyTaker has stolen roughly $1 million from a Russian bank after breaching its network via an outdated router. The victim of the hack is PIR Bank, which lost at least $920,000 in money it had stored in a corresponding account at the Bank of Russia. Group-IB, a Russian cyber-security firm that was called in to investigate the incident, says that after studying infected workstations and servers at PIR Bank, they collected "irrefutable digital evidence implicating MoneyTaker in the theft." Group-IB are experts in MoneyTaker tactics because they unmasked the group's existence and operations last December when they published a report on their past attacks.

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GV, Formerly Known as Google Ventures, For Years Has Used an Algorithm That Effectively Permits or Prohibits Both New and Follow-on Investments

3 days 9 hours ago
Dan Primack, reporting for Axios: When most venture capitalists want approval to make a new investment, they go to their partners. When venture capitalists at GV do it, they go to something called "The Machine." Axios has learned that the firm, formerly known as Google Ventures, for years has used an algorithm that effectively permits or prohibits both new and follow-on investments. Staffers plug in all sorts of deal details into "The Machine" -- which is programmed with all sorts of market data, and returns traffic signal-like outputs. Green means go. Red means stop. Yellow means proceed with caution, but sources say it's usually the practical equivalent of red. It was initially designed and used as a due diligence assistant that could be overruled but, according to three sources, it has evolved into a de facto investment committee.

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Project 'Fuchsia': Google is Quietly Working on a Successor To Android

3 days 10 hours ago
A day after the European Commission fined Google over Android, more details about Fuchsia, a new operating system the company has been working on for several years has emerged. From the report: But members of the Fuchsia team have discussed a grander plan that is being reported here for the first time: Creating a single operating system capable of running all the company's in-house gadgets, like Pixel phones and smart speakers, as well as third-party devices that now rely on Android and another system called Chrome OS, according to people familiar with the conversations. According to one of the people, engineers have said they want to embed Fuchsia on connected home devices, such as voice-controlled speakers, within three years, then move on to larger machines such as laptops. Ultimately the team aspires to swap in their system for Android, the software that powers more than three quarters of the world's smartphones, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The aim is for this to happen in the next half decade, one person said. But Pichai and Hiroshi Lockheimer, his deputy who runs Android and Chrome, have yet to sign off on any road map for Fuchsia, these people said. The executives have to move gingerly on any plan to overhaul Android because the software supports dozens of hardware partners, thousands of developers -- and billions of mobile-ad dollars. [...] Still, Fuchsia is more than a basement skunkworks effort. Pichai has voiced his support for the project internally, said people familiar with the effort. Fuchsia now has more than 100 people working on it, including venerated software staff such as Matias Duarte, a design executive who led several pioneering projects at Google and elsewhere. Duarte is only working part-time on the project, said one person familiar with the company.

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Amazon Web Services Isn't Making a 'Commercial' Networking Switch, Cisco Says

3 days 10 hours ago
A week after a report claimed that Amazon Web Services was building its own bare-bones networking switch in a potential threat to networking giant companies, Cisco says it has checked with Amazon, with which it has long maintained a relationship, and it has been assured by the ecommerce giant that is not entering its territory. From a report: AWS CEO Andy Jassy and Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins had a "recent call" from which Robbins walked away satisfied that AWS wasn't "actively building a commercial network switch," Marketwatch reported Wednesday, citing a statement from Cisco that it confirmed as authentic with AWS. That follows a report last week from The Information that AWS was working on a so-called "white-box switch," which the site portrayed as a frontal assault on Cisco that sent networking stocks slumping on a lazy summer Friday afternoon.

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Trump Slams EU Over $5 Billion Fine on Google

3 days 11 hours ago
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday criticized the European Union and said the bloc was taking advantage of the United States, pointing to the record $5 billion fine European antitrust regulators imposed on Google. From a report: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House next Wednesday to discuss trade and other issues. "I told you so! The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google. They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!" Trump said in a post on Twitter .

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Bye Siri, Says Apple AI's Last Remaining Founder

3 days 12 hours ago
Tom Gruber, the last of three Siri voice assistant co-founders still at Apple, has retired from his role as head of Siri's Advanced Development group, The Information reports. From a report: The 59-year-old will pursue personal interests in photography and ocean conservation, the publication said citing unnamed sources. Gruber's departure comes as the Siri group is seeing a major haul in its leadership under new boss John Giannandrea, formerly Google's head of AI and search. Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer, with whom Gruber founded the original Siri Inc before it was bought over by Apple in 2010, left the iPhone maker years ago in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

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Should the Word 'Milk' Be Used To Describe Nondairy Milk-Alternative Products?

3 days 13 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration seems to have soured on nondairy milk-alternative products that use the term "milk" in their marketing and labeling -- like popular soy and almond milk products. In a talk hosted by Politico, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced Tuesday that the FDA will soon issue a new guidance on the use of the term. But he added that products aren't abiding by FDA policies as they stand now. He referenced a so-called "standard of identity" policy that regulates how milk is defined and should be identified. "If you look at our standard of identity -- there is a reference somewhere in the standard of identity to a lactating animal," he said. "And, you know, an almond doesn't lactate, I will confess." He went on to explain that the issue is that the agency hasn't been enforcing its own policy or putting the squeeze on product makers -- and that it's time to get abreast of the labeling language. But, he admitted, curtailing the wording of non-moo juice labeling isn't an easy task because it means that the agency has to change its "regulatory posture." "I can't just do it unilaterally," Gottlieb said. Hence, the agency is putting together a new guidance for manufacturers to help skim the fat from the market. Gottlieb said the agency will soon tap the public for comments on the terminology and hopes to wring out a new policy within a year.

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ESO's Very Large Telescope Now Delivers Images Sharper Than Hubble

3 days 16 hours ago
ffkom shares an excerpt from a press release via the European Southern Observatory: ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) has achieved first light with a new adaptive optics mode called laser tomography -- and has captured remarkably sharp test images of the planet Neptune, star clusters and other objects. The pioneering MUSE instrument in Narrow-Field Mode, working with the GALACSI adaptive optics module, can now use this new technique to correct for turbulence at different altitudes in the atmosphere. It is now possible to capture images from the ground at visible wavelengths that are sharper than those from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The combination of exquisite image sharpness and the spectroscopic capabilities of MUSE will enable astronomers to study the properties of astronomical objects in much greater detail than was possible before.

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Chinese Space Official Seems Unimpressed With NASA's Lunar Gateway

3 days 19 hours ago
schwit1 shares a report from Behind The Black: At a science workshop in Europe this week, Chinese space officials made it clear that they found the concept of NASA Lunar Orbiting Platform-Gateway (LOP-G) to be unimpressive and uninteresting. Moreover, they said that while it appears we will be delaying our landings on the Moon for at least a decade because of LOP-G, they will be focused on getting and building a research station on the surface, right off the bat. [From a report via Ars Technica:] "Overall, [Pei Zhaoyu, who is deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration], does not appear to be a fan of NASA's plan to build a deep space gateway, formally known as the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, at a near-rectilinear halo orbit. Whereas NASA will focus its activities on this gateway away from the Moon, Pei said China will focus on a 'lunar scientific research station.' Another slide from Pei offered some thoughts on the gateway concept, which NASA intends to build out during the 2020s, delaying a human landing on the Moon until the end of the decade at the earliest. Pei does not appear to be certain about the scientific objectives of such a station, and the deputy director concludes that, from a cost-benefit standpoint, the gateway would have 'lost cost-effectiveness.'"

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Russian Shipwreck Allegedly Carrying $130 Billion In Gold Has Been Rediscovered

3 days 22 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Popular Mechanics: A salvage company has located the remains of a Russian warship lost during the the Russo-Japanese War. The battle-damaged cruiser Dmitrii Donskoi was scuttled off the coast of Korea in 1905, reportedly carrying a cargo of gold worth an estimated $130 billion in today's dollars. An international consortium of companies plans to salvage the gold. According to the Telegraph, the Donskoi was found less than a mile off the coast of Ulleung island, at a depth of 1,423 feet in the Sea of Japan. A submersible descended to the wreck and captured an image of the ship's name on the stern in the Cyrillic alphabet. The South Korean Shinil Group, which discovered the wreck, plans to recover the gold sometime later this year with help from companies in China, Canada, and the U.K. At the time of her sinking Donskoi was reportedly carrying 5,500 boxes of gold bars and 200 tons of gold coins with a street value today of $130 billion. That's more than twice Russia's 2017 defense budget, which was $61 billion. If the treasure does materialize, the Russian government will receive half of the recovered amount. The money that's not going to Russia will reportedly be invested in a railroad line linking North Korea, South Korea, and Russia. A small percentage (10%) will also be invested in tourism projects on Ulleungdo Island, including a museum dedicated to the vessel.

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Leaked Documents Show Facebook's 'Threshold' For Deleting Pages, Groups

4 days ago
Facebook has repeatedly referenced to lawmakers a "threshold" that must be reached before the platform decides to ban a particular page for violating the site's policies, but it hasn't discussed its guidelines publicly. Motherboard has obtained internal Facebook documents laying out what this threshold is for multiple types of different content, including some instances of hate speech. From the report: One Facebook moderator training document for hate speech says that for Pages -- Facebook's feature for sections dedicated to, say, a band, organization, public figure, or business -- the Page admin has to receive 5 "strikes" within 90 days for the Page itself to be deleted. Alternatively, Facebook moderators are told to remove a Page if at least 30 percent of the content posted by other people within 90 days violates Facebook's community standards. A similar 30 percent-or-over policy exists for Facebook Groups, according to the document. In a similar vein, another hate speech document says that a profile should be taken down if there are 5 or more pieces of content from the user which indicate hate propaganda, photos of the user present with another identifiable leader, or other related violations. Although the documents obtained by Motherboard were created recently, Facebook's policies change regularly, so whether these exact parameters remain in force is unclear. Of course this still depends on moderators identifying and labeling posts as violating to reach that threshold. [...] Another document focused on sexual content says moderators should unpublish Pages and Groups under the basis of sexual solicitation if there are over 2 "elements," such as the Page description, title, photo, or pinned post, that include either explicit solicitation of nude imagery, or, if the page is more subtle, includes either a method of contact or a location. This slide again reiterates the over 30 percent and 5 admin posts rules found in the hate speech document.

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