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Huawei's Silicon Valley Outpost Allegedly Stole Trade Secrets From Cisco

Slashdot - Sun, 16/02/2020 - 00:34
"Controversial Chinese technology firm Huawei and its Santa Clara-based subsidiary Futurewei allegedly stole trade secrets from San Jose tech giant Cisco and used them to copy Cisco routers," reports the San Jose Mercury News, citing the federal indictment released Thursday. The U.S. Department of Justice claimed in its racketeering indictment and a news release that Huawei and its Silicon Valley subsidiary stole operating system code and other data needed to make routers, and used the pilfered secrets to make Huawei-branded routers sold in the U.S. The indictment also alleges that five other unnamed U.S. firms were targeted. Cisco is not mentioned by name in the indictment, which refers to "Company 1." But the indictment cites a lawsuit filed in Texas against Futurewei and Huawei over the alleged router-data theft... The indictment alleges that when the Texas litigation started, Futurewei and Huawei claimed to have already removed misappropriated code from products, and recalled routers containing that code. However, the firms had erased the memory drives of the recalled routers and sent them to China before they could be accessed, "thus destroying evidence of Huawei and Futurewei's illicit conduct," the indictment claims. "Also, in an effort to destroy evidence, Futurewei attempted to remotely access Huawei routers that had already been sold in the United States and erase the misappropriated source code contained therein," the indictment alleges, without saying whether the government believes the attempted erasure was successful. The indictment does not make clear how U.S. prosecutors believe Futurewei and Huawei obtained the copyrighted code, but it claims the two companies had "hired or attempted to hire Company 1 employees and directed these employees to misappropriate Company 1 source code...." The two companies also engaged in "flagrant plagiarism" of Cisco's user manuals for routers, the suit alleged. While the allegations of stolen Cisco secrets concern routers sold in the U.S. in 2002, the indictment charges Huawei, Futurewei and two other Huawei subsidiaries with running a scheme from 2000 to the present "to operate and grow the worldwide business of Huawei and its parents, global affiliates and subsidiaries through the deliberate and repeated misappropriation of intellectual property of companies headquartered or with offices in the United States."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Warning: Microsoft Pulls Windows 10 Security Update After Reports of Serious Bugs

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 23:34
Slashdot reader golden_donkey quotes Forbes: Are you booting up your Windows 10 machine and discovering you can't log in to your profile? It appears you're not alone. Reports are increasing across Twitter and Microsoft forums that following the most recent Patch Tuesday update (KB4532693), users are complaining that their profiles and desktop files are missing, and that custom icons and wallpaper have all been reset to their default state... The KB4532693 update is allegedly causing much more serious headaches for some users. A newer report by Windows Latest cites multiple users in their comments section complaining that the data is nowhere to be found and allegedly not recoverable. Microsoft has now "yanked KB4524244 from its update servers..." reports ZDNet, "after acknowledging reports of 'an issue affecting a sub-set of devices.'" Microsoft says customers who have successfully installed the update don't need to take any further steps. Those who have configured PCs to defer installation of updates by at least four days should also be unaffected. For those who are experiencing issues related to this update, Microsoft recommends uninstalling the update. Forbes also shared a video "on a related note." Its title? "How To Choose A Linux Distro That's Right For You..."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Former NASA Official William Gerstenmaier Joins SpaceX

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 22:34
schwit1 shared this report from Ars Technica: This is a consequential hire for SpaceX — it is difficult to overstate the influence Gerstenmaier has over human spaceflight both in the United States and abroad. He led NASA's space shuttle, International Space Station, commercial crew, and exploration programs for more than a decade. He immediately brings credibility to the company's safety culture. Former Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale, who now chairs the human spaceflight committee of NASA's Advisory Council, told Ars last summer, "Bill was recognized by everybody as being technically well-grounded and very astute. He was known to listen carefully and to make his judgments based on good technical reasons...." Although the role is officially a consultancy, it is expected to become a full-time position. SpaceX is poised to launch the first crewed mission of its Dragon spacecraft by June of this year. [Or possibly even in early May.] Gerstenmaier will play a key role in ensuring the safety of those missions and helping SpaceX secure certification for the Crew Dragon vehicle. The hiring could have longer-term implications as well. Few people in the global aerospace community have as much gravitas as Gerstenmaier or as much understanding of how to build coalitions to explore space... In December 2008, Gerstenmaier saved a cash-strapped SpaceX with a Commercial Resupply Service contract for operational cargo missions to the International Space Station. Gerstenmaier's decision to maintain two competitors as part of the commercial crew program in 2014 (SpaceX and Boeing) was also essential, although it was not a company-saving move. Boeing was lobbying hard for all of the funds and very nearly got them. Gerstenmaier was the deciding official who kept two providers in the competition. It has proven to be a smart decision, as SpaceX is poised to beat Boeing into space by months, if not years, at 50 percent less cost.

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'Five Open-Source Projects AI Enthusiasts Might Want To Know About'

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 21:34
b-dayyy quotes Linux Security: As AI becomes more and more ingrained in our daily lives through consumer products, we can't help but be concerned that proprietary software will comprise the market. And we are not talking about a million-dollar market, but a bigger one that may reach US$118.6 billion by 2025. Many industries and end-users would thus benefit from more open-source AI projects and tools for developers' use. That would save tons of individuals and companies money to build their own AI-powered apps. In this post, we explore five open-source AI projects or tools that are compatible with Linux and delve into the pros and cons of open-source AI and AI in general. The list includes TensorFlow by Google's AI research team, as well as Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit. The article points out that open-source AI "is also being explored in developing hardware, specifically microprocessors that are more secure," and suggests some other possible transformative uses (including smart farming technologies "that aid in livestock and crop monitoring, irrigation, weather forecasting, and overall farm management... [H]ealthcare becomes more factual than intuitive, increases in revenue can be seen more clearly in marketing efforts, and food security becomes a reality rather than a dream. "However, we should not discount the fact that AI can also be weaponized, empowering the wrong people. Cybersecurity systems must also be upgraded to counter AI-powered cyberattacks. And when developing AI-powered machines, it is critical to ensure that they are not vulnerable to attacks."

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FSF Sends Microsoft A Blank Hard Drive For Sending Back The Windows 7 Source Code

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 19:34
The Free Software Foundation sent Microsoft a hard drive for Valentine's Day -- along with a petition calling for the release of the source code for Windows 7 (which is no longer supported by Microsoft): It's as easy as copying the source code, giving it a license notice, and mailing it back to us. As the author of the most popular free software license in the world, we're ready to give them all of the help we can. All they have to do is ask. We want them to show exactly how much love they have for the "open source" software they mention in their advertising. If they really do love free software -- and we're willing to give them the benefit of the doubt -- they have the opportunity to show it to the world. We hope they're not just capitalizing on the free software development model in the most superficial and exploitative way possible: by using it as a marketing tool to fool us into thinking that they care about our freedom. Together, we've stood up for our principles. They can reject us, or ignore us, but what they cannot do is stop us. We'll go on campaigning, until all of us are free.

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Linux is Ready for the End of Time

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 18:34
January 19, 2038 is for Linux what Y2K was for mainframe and PC computers in 2000, reports ZDNet. It's the day that the value for time "runs out of numbers" and, in the case of 32-bit Unix-based operating systems like Linux and older versions of macOS, "starts counting time with negative numbers..." "But the fixes are underway to make sure all goes well when that fatal time rolls around." nickwinlund77 shared their report: Linux developers have seen this coming for decades. So, Linux kernel developer Arnd Bergmann and others have been working on a repair. These corrections are now in the forthcoming Linux 5.6 kernel. Bergmann explained, "Linux-5.6, or my backport of the patches to 5.4, should be the first release that can serve as a base for a 32-bit system designed to run beyond year 2038." There are some caveats: - All user space must be compiled with a 64-bit time_t, which will be supported in the coming musl-1.2 and glibc-2.32 releases, along with installed kernel headers from Linux-5.6 or higher. - Applications that use the system call interfaces directly need to be ported to use the time64 syscalls added in Linux-5.1 in place of the existing system calls. - Applications that use a private copy of kernel uapi header files or their contents may need to update to the Linux-5.6 version. - A few remaining interfaces cannot be changed to pass a 64-bit time_t in a compatible way, so they must be configured to use CLOCK_MONOTONIC times... After we fix this, we won't have to worry about 64-bit Linux running out of seconds until 15:30:08 GMT Sunday, December 4, 29,227,702,659. Personally, I'm not going to worry about that one.

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Bill Gates Did Not Order a £500m Hydrogen-Powered Superyacht

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 17:34
"Billionaire Bill Gates has not commissioned a hydrogen-powered superyacht from designer Sinot," reports the BBC, citing their direct confirmation from the company itself. It has been widely reported that Mr Gates ordered a £500m ($644m) luxury vessel, based on the concept which was displayed in Monaco in 2019. Sinot said it had "no business relationship" with Bill Gates. It added that that the concept yacht, called Aqua, was "not linked" to either him or any of his representatives. "Aqua is a concept under development and has not been sold to Mr. Gates," a spokeswoman said. The Guardian has now removed their original article. But here's what they'd originally reported: Bill Gates has ordered the world's first hydrogen-powered superyacht, worth an estimated £500m ($644m) and featuring an infinity pool, helipad, spa and gym... The boat has five decks and space to accommodate 14 guests and 31 crew members. In a further environmentally friendly feature, gel-fuelled fire bowls allow guests to stay warm outside without having to burn wood or coals. But its most cutting-edge feature is tucked away below decks – two 28-tonne vacuum-sealed tanks that are cooled to -423F (-253C) and filled with liquid hydrogen, which powers the ship. The fuel will generate power for the two one-megawatt motors and propellors via on-board fuel cells, which combine hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity. Water is a byproduct.

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Google Redraws the Borders On Maps Depending On Who's Looking

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: For more than 70 years, India and Pakistan have waged sporadic and deadly skirmishes over control of the mountainous region of Kashmir. Tens of thousands have died in the conflict, including three just this month. Both sides claim the Himalayan outpost as their own, but web surfers in India could be forgiven for thinking the dispute is all but settled: The borders on Google's online maps there display Kashmir as fully under Indian control. Elsewhere, users see the region's snaking outlines as a dotted line, acknowledging the dispute. Google's corporate mission is "to organize the world's information," but it also bends it to its will. From Argentina to the U.K. to Iran, the world's borders look different depending on where you're viewing them from. That's because Google -- and other online mapmakers -- simply change them. [...] Unlike mapping geographical features, sketching the contours of towns or countries is ultimately a human construct. So, Google consults with local governments and other official bodies to help make a decision about where to draw its lines, according to people familiar with the matter. And it refers to historical maps, news events and atlases, these people said. But changes are also made with little fanfare and can be done immediately, while physical maps are beholden to printing schedules. When it comes to contested borders, people in different countries often see different things. Take the body of water between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. To almost all it is known as the Sea of Japan, but for Google Maps users in South Korea it's listed as the East Sea. More than 4,000 miles away, the waterway separating Iran from Saudi Arabia may be either the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Gulf, depending on who's looking online. And the line in Western Sahara marking the northern border with Morocco disappears for Moroccans seeking it out on the Web -- along with the region's name altogether. The sparsely populated northwest Africa region is disputed between Morocco, which seized it in 1975, and the indigenous Sahrawi. One of Google's contract employees said they "are often told to alter maps with no reason given and that their changes take effect almost immediately," the report says. "That typically includes relatively minor adjustments like widening a path in a park or removing mentions of landmarks like a statue or traffic circle. But, these people said, Google has a special team employees refer to as 'the disputed region team' that addresses more prickly matters..." "The company also responds to feedback, such as once changing the name of Native American tribal land to 'nation' from 'reservation,'" notes The Washington Post. "Google's maps can also be revised by a band of enthusiasts known as Local Guides who can submit suggestions for alterations, which often are implemented automatically. [...] In some cases, local laws dictate how Google and others must represent maps to avoid censure, as is the case in China or Russia, according to people familiar with the matter."

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DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment review: small but perfectly formed

Eurogamer - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 14:53

Microsoft's Elite Series 2 controller has been divisive. To its fans, the Elite is responsive, powerful and premium, the ultimate first-party controller, but its detractors can point to its high price and quality control issues to paint a different picture. That makes Sony's approach, almost diametrically opposite that of its rival, so refreshing. Rather than making an £160/$180 controller that only its most wealthy players can justify purchasing, Sony has created the £26/$30 Back Button Attachment, a snap-on device that adds the single most important feature of premium controllers - programmable rear buttons - to any standard DualShock 4 controller at an affordable price. We've been testing it for the past week ahead of its launch on February 14th, and we think Sony's approach has considerable merit.

Before we get into how this add-on performs, let's tackle the central thesis of the Back Button Attachment: that these buttons are genuinely useful and worth the extra cost and weight. The idea here is to keep the most important controls under your fingers at all times, even the ones that are normally bound to inconvenient buttons like the d-pad, share/options or L3/R3. For example, changing items in Dark Souls 3 requires you to press down on the d-pad, so if you're being chased by an enemy and get poisoned, you'd normally have to swap to your poison-clearing item and take your thumb off the left stick that controls movement, leaving you in an awkward position. Similarly, in Call of Duty, pressing down on the left stick all the time to sprint can be damaging to both the stick and your thumb, so mapping this to a rear paddle feels much more comfortable. And finally, what better way to change gears in Gran Turismo than with rear paddles? The more games you play with paddles, the more uses you'll find for them - and knowing that you can always rebind the two most awkward controls is a great comfort, especially when so few games offer complete control customisation.

Of course, just having rear paddles isn't enough to make a great controller. We've tested plenty of third-party controllers that have these rear buttons, but they can be inconveniently positioned, making them too hard to press or too easy to trigger accidentally. Another common pitfall is programming the buttons in the first place; often the setup process is so involved that it's only worth doing for the games that you play often, and you lose all interest in experimentation. A truly great rear paddle implementation should therefore satisfy two conditions: proper positioning and easy reprogramming. Happily, the Back Button Attachment absolutely drills these requirements.

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Categories: Video Games

Activate this 'Bracelet of Silence,' and Alexa Can't Eavesdrop

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 12:00
Ben Zhao and his wife, Heather Zheng, computer science professors at the University of Chicago, designed what they are calling a "bracelet of silence" that will jam the Echo or any other microphones in the vicinity from listening in on the wearer's conversations. The New York Times reports: The bracelet is like an anti-smartwatch, both in its cyberpunk aesthetic and in its purpose of defeating technology. A large, somewhat ungainly white cuff with spiky transducers, the bracelet has 24 speakers that emit ultrasonic signals when the wearer turns it on. The sound is imperceptible to most ears, with the possible exception of young people and dogs, but nearby microphones will detect the high-frequency sound instead of other noises. "It's so easy to record these days," Mr. Lopes said. "This is a useful defense. When you have something private to say, you can activate it in real time. When they play back the recording, the sound is going to be gone." During a phone interview, Mr. Lopes turned on the bracelet, resulting in static-like white noise for the listener on the other end. At this point, the bracelet is just a prototype. The researchers say that they could manufacture it for as little as $20, and that a handful of investors have asked them about commercializing it. "The 'bracelet of silence' is not the first device invented by researchers to stuff up digital assistants' ears," the report notes. "In 2018, two designers created Project Alias, an appendage that can be placed over a smart speaker to deafen it. But Ms. Zheng argues that a jammer should be portable to protect people as they move through different environments, given that you don't always know where a microphone is lurking." "Other precursors to the bracelet include a 'jammer coat' designed by an Austrian architecture firm in 2014 to block radio waves that could collect information from a person's phone or credit cards," reports The New York Times. "In 2012, the artist Adam Harvey created silver-plated stealth wear garments that masked people's heat signature to protect them from the eyes of drones, as well as a line of makeup and hairstyles, called CV Dazzle, to thwart facial recognition cameras."

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Blind choice and blind luck: the magic of FTL's superlative decisions

Eurogamer - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 10:00

Choice is everything in FTL: Faster Than Light, a game I've returned to recently and would now quite happily swear to never leave again. FTL is, above all, a game about deciding what to do. Where to travel, when to buy, what to shoot - even where your little crewmember stands, if you're lucky enough to have one spare. You can drill down to the most micro of micromanagements or the broadest, most profound of overarching concepts in FTL and it will always, always come back to it. Choice, choice, choice. But where its choices really stand out - and where FTL itself stands out, even all these years after release - is when it asks you to make those choices blind.

Blind choices are, I find, often pretty awful. The big, clunkily jammed-in blind narrative choice with a side of disappointing consequence is all the rage amongst open-world blockbusters. More often than not it feels put there because core demographics respond well to the buzzwords, and more often than not it's the worst thing about the game it's in. Working your way through forty, fifty, eighty-odd hours of a game to find you got the bad ending by killing the wrong Named Enemy when you left the tutorial area - probably six months ago, by my rate of playing - is not, in my humblest of opinions, fun. You return from war, triumphant, to find your home town burned down because you said something mean to some guy (who was a douche and totally deserved it), and he went on a rampage while you were away. Or you can't, I don't know, play a good ten hours more of a game you're loving because you didn't feed the giant fish a peach three times and hop on one leg (this sounds like Sekiro but that gets a pass because it's ridiculous enough to be good, actually, so ignore that one). You get the point. I'm acutely aware it might just be me that struggles with blind choice and consequences, and I'm aware that entire studios (BioWare) built a reputation on them, but still. Not a fan.

But FTL! Of course FTL, the perfect video game, gets this right. For some reason I find blind choice in FTL the absolute opposite to blind choice everywhere else, refusing to look up the chances of success or the possible outcomes when, in just about every other game, I'd rather spoil the entire thing for the sake of getting the decisions right. I think part of it is just not being as invested in those stories - Assassin's Creed Odyssey is wonderful, for instance, but I play it for all the frolicking about on Mykonos and Spartan-punting people off ledges, not for the sporadic choice-based melodrama - whereas in FTL the consequence is the gameplay, and the gameplay is the story. You lose Dustin the Engi to giant alien spiders, and you're also losing your ship's best engineer and a level two weapons expert you've been training up for the entire run. You lose that guy and it matters, so you actually feel it, so you actually care about maintaining the surprise and the veil of ignorance around what decision most often leads to what. Inadvertently ruining Kassandra's story by stabbing some dude who it really seemed like you ought to stab is just a bit of a bummer.

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Categories: Video Games

Twitter Ran Ads For Human Organs Because Money Is Money

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 09:00
Earlier this week, freelance journalist Tyler Coats had an organ-buying service appear on his feed in the form of a promoted tweet. Gizmodo has the details: The fact that this cropped up in front of his face to begin with is indicative of how badly these ads are targeted in the first place. "Despite my cold, dead heart, I am not in the market for new organs," Coates later told Gizmodo. Understanding how broken Twitter's system is requires a bit of context. Since being pressured to juice its promoted content roughly half a decade ago, Twitter's been, shall we say, "experimenting" with new ways to push that content in front of its user base and milk those eyeballs for profit. At the same time, it's been gradually limiting the ways advertisers can target the people who might want to see that content in the first place. The result? Weird promoted tweets -- about organs or otherwise -- flooding people's feeds. Though the account running the human organ ads has since been suspended, it looks like the same person created another account under a similar name (which was also suspended). And they will likely just keep going. In a statement to Gizmodo, a Twitter spokesperson said that this particular tweet violated the company's Unacceptable Business Practices policy and Inappropriate Content policy. "In general we have both humans and machines that review our content for policy compliance," they added. "And, of course, we're constantly investing in both our automated and human review processes and systems."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

A New Spin On 3D Printing Can Produce an Object In Seconds

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A 3D model is sliced up into hundreds of 2D horizontal layers and slowly built up, one layer at a time. This layer-by-layer process can take hours or even days, but what if we could print the entire model at once? A new technique demonstrated by researchers from Switzerland's Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne (EPFL) -- and further detailed in this Nature article -- does just that and can print an entire model in seconds. The new technique builds a model by hardening a photosensitive resin with a laser, not unlike existing stereolithography (SLA) printers. The big difference here is the application of tomographic techniques, the same used in x-rays and ultrasounds, that allows for rotational printing. Laser light is modulated with a DLP chip (just like in old rear-projection HDTVs) and is blasted into a container full of resin. The laser covers the entire build volume, and the container of resin actually rotates while it's being exposed to the light. The laser projects the model at different rotational perspectives, which is synced up with the spinning resin, and a whole 3D model can be produced in seconds. The EPFL writes, "The system is currently capable of making two-centimeter structures with a precision of 80 micrometers, about the same as the diameter of a strand of hair. But as the team develops new devices, they should be able to build much bigger objects, potentially up to 15 centimeters." In this first public demonstration, the build volume is 16mm x 16mm x 20mm, making it one of the smallest 3D printers on earth. An 80 um resolution is also nothing to write home about and can be bested by ~$500 consumer SLA printers. It is very fast, though, and the technique is just getting started. The researchers have set up a spin-off company called "Readily 3D" to develop and market the technology.

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HQ Trivia, the Once-Popular Mobile Game, Is Shutting Down

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 04:02
CNN Business has learned that the once-popular live mobile trivia game "HQ Trivia" is shutting down. From the report: When HQ launched in 2017, its first game HQ Trivia quickly attracted millions of people across the world who stopped whatever they were doing twice a day to play the game on their smartphones. The company was profiled by The New York Times and its original host Scott Rogowsky became a household name, appearing on programs like NBC's "Today" show. But over the next year, the game's popularity faded and its parent company was hit with a series of setbacks. The company grappled with internal turmoil, including the death of HQ cofounder Colin Kroll, who died in December 2018 from a drug overdose. CEO Rus Yusupov said in a company-wide email on Friday that "lead investors are no longer willing to fund the company, and so effective today, HQ will cease operations and move to dissolution." In the email, which was obtained by CNN Business, Yusupov also disclosed that the company had hired a banker "to help find additional investors and partners to support the expansion of the company." He said the company had "received an offer from an established business" and was expected to close the deal on Saturday, but the potential acquisition fell through.

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EU Judge Raises Prospect of Increasing Multibillion Fine Against Google

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 03:25
Alphabet's appeal against a multibillion-dollar fine for alleged anticompetitive behavior by its Google unit risks backfiring after a European Union court floated the prospect of increasing the fine (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), rather than scrapping it. The Wall Street Journal reports: In a surprise twist Friday at the end of a three-day hearing, one of five judges on the panel said the EU's General Court has the power to increase the $2.6 billion fine, levied in 2017, if it finds that the sum was insufficient to deter the company from further anticompetitive behavior. "The fine of ~$2.6 billion was described as eye-catching, but it is a small amount of cash in your hands," Judge Colm Mac Eochaidh said in court. "Did that level of fine deter you from repeating your behavior?" he asked Google's counsel. Increasing a fine has only one precedent in the court's history, according to Mr. Mac Eochaidh, when German chemicals giant BASF SE was ordered to pay ~$58,000 in 2007 on top of an initial ~$38 million fine for participating in a chemicals cartel. Christopher Thomas, a counsel for Google, dismissed the idea that the fine was warranted and said the company takes the entire antitrust process "with extreme seriousness." Google disputes the findings of the commission that it had willingly or negligently squeezed competitors out of its shopping searches. The prospect of raising the fine was described as theoretical by the panel's presiding judge. Still, it sent Google lawyers scrambling for arguments, with one sitting on the floor outside the courtroom frantically researching how to contest such a move. If Google loses the case, it has the right to appeal to the bloc's highest court, the European Court of Justice.

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Signal Is Finally Bringing Its Secure Messaging To the Masses

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 02:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: [Cryptographer and coder known as Moxie Marlinspike] has always talked about making encrypted communications easy enough for anyone to use. The difference, today, is that Signal is finally reaching that mass audience it was always been intended for -- not just the privacy diehards, activists, and cybersecurity nerds that formed its core user base for years -- thanks in part to a concerted effort to make the app more accessible and appealing to the mainstream. That new phase in Signal's evolution began two years ago this month. That's when WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton, a few months removed from leaving the app he built amid post-acquisition clashes with Facebook management, injected $50 million into Marlinspike's end-to-end encrypted messaging project. Acton also joined the newly created Signal Foundation as executive chairman. The pairing up made sense; WhatsApp had used Signal's open source protocol to encrypt all WhatsApp communications end-to-end by default, and Acton had grown disaffected with what he saw as Facebook's attempts to erode WhatsApp's privacy. Since then, Marlinspike's nonprofit has put Acton's millions -- and his experience building an app with billions of users -- to work. After years of scraping by with just three overworked full-time staffers, the Signal Foundation now has 20 employees. For years a bare-bones texting and calling app, Signal has increasingly become a fully featured, mainstream communications platform. With its new coding muscle, it has rolled out features at a breakneck speed: In just the last three months, Signal has added support for iPad, ephemeral images and video designed to disappear after a single viewing, downloadable customizable "stickers," and emoji reactions. More significantly, it announced plans to roll out a new system for group messaging, and an experimental method for storing encrypted contacts in the cloud. Many of those features might sound trivial. They certainly aren't the sort that appealed to Signal's earliest core users. Instead, they're what Acton calls "enrichment features." They're designed to attract normal people who want a messaging app as multifunctional as WhatsApp, iMessage, or Facebook Messenger but still value Signal's widely trusted security and the fact that it collects virtually no user data. Wired explains how adding simple-sounding enhancements can require significant feats of security engineering to fit within Signal's privacy constraints. Adding downloadable customizable stickers, for example, "required designing a system where every sticker 'pack' is encrypted with a 'pack key,'" reports Wired. "That key is itself encrypted and shared from one user to another when someone wants to install new stickers on their phone, so that Signal's server can never see decrypted stickers or even identify the Signal user who created or sent them." For Signal's new group messaging, Signal partnered with Microsoft Research to invent a novel form of "anonymous credentials" that let a server gatekeep who belongs in a group, but without ever learning the members' identities.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Huawei's Silicon Valley Output Allegedly Stole Trade Secrets From Cisco

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 02:34
"Controversial Chinese technology firm Huawei and its Santa Clara-based subsidiary Futurewei allegedly stole trade secrets from San Jose tech giant Cisco and used them to copy Cisco routers," reports the San Jose Mercury News, citing the federal indictment released Thursday. The U.S. Department of Justice claimed in its racketeering indictment and a news release that Huawei and its Silicon Valley subsidiary stole operating system code and other data needed to make routers, and used the pilfered secrets to make Huawei-branded routers sold in the U.S. The indictment also alleges that five other unnamed U.S. firms were targeted. Cisco is not mentioned by name in the indictment, which refers to "Company 1." But the indictment cites a lawsuit filed in Texas against Futurewei and Huawei over the alleged router-data theft... The indictment alleges that when the Texas litigation started, Futurewei and Huawei claimed to have already removed misappropriated code from products, and recalled routers containing that code. However, the firms had erased the memory drives of the recalled routers and sent them to China before they could be accessed, "thus destroying evidence of Huawei and Futurewei's illicit conduct," the indictment claims. "Also, in an effort to destroy evidence, Futurewei attempted to remotely access Huawei routers that had already been sold in the United States and erase the misappropriated source code contained therein," the indictment alleges, without saying whether the government believes the attempted erasure was successful. The indictment does not make clear how U.S. prosecutors believe Futurewei and Huawei obtained the copyrighted code, but it claims the two companies had "hired or attempted to hire Company 1 employees and directed these employees to misappropriate Company 1 source code...." The two companies also engaged in "flagrant plagiarism" of Cisco's user manuals for routers, the suit alleged. While the allegations of stolen Cisco secrets concern routers sold in the U.S. in 2002, the indictment charges Huawei, Futurewei and two other Huawei subsidiaries with running a scheme from 2000 to the present "to operate and grow the worldwide business of Huawei and its parents, global affiliates and subsidiaries through the deliberate and repeated misappropriation of intellectual property of companies headquartered or with offices in the United States."

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Jaguar To Cut I-Pace Output On Battery Shortage

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 02:20
Thelasko shares a report from Automotive News Europe: Jaguar Land Rover is pausing production of the Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV due to battery supply issues from LG Chem's Poland plant. JLR said it has adjusted production schedules of the model due to temporary supplier scheduling issues. "We are working with the supplier to resolve this and minimize impact on customer orders," JLR said. JLR did not name the supplier [A source familiar with the matter told Automotive News Europe that the battery supplier is LG Chem]. It also did not say when the production pause would start. The I-Pace is a rival to the Tesla Model X, featuring a large 90kWh battery and a range of about 377 km (234 miles). According to The Times newspaper, production of the I-Pace will stop for a week starting on Monday, Feb. 17.

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Tesla Owner Says Remotely Disabled Autopilot Features Have Been Restored

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 02:02
Tesla has restored the Autopilot driver assistance features it remotely disabled on a Model S, just days after the story was first reported by Jalopnik. The owner in question, who Jalopnik refers to as Alec, said he was contacted by a Tesla customer experience rep who "apologized for my troubles, told me that Tesla has restored all missed options" and "cited a miscommunication" as the reason why the company pulled the Autopilot features in the first place. The Verge reports: Alec had purchased the used 2017 Model S in December from a third-party dealer that acquired the car from Tesla at auction in November. The original owner had equipped the car with the (now-retired) "Enhanced Autopilot" version of Tesla's driver assistance package and the company's "Full Self-Driving" package, which promises increased autonomy over the years. Three days after Tesla sold the car to the dealer, Tesla performed a "remote audit" that flagged those features for removal, according to Jalopnik. Even then, the features were never removed, and the dealer posted the car for sale with both Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving featured on the car's Monroney sticker -- meaning Alec paid for a car with those features. But when Alec took the car to a Tesla service center a few weeks after his purchase, he was told that the features were removed. Tesla has removed features from used cars in the past, but typically does so before the car is sold off to a third-party dealer or a new owner. Since Tesla pulled these features both after it sold the car to the dealer, and after that dealer sold it to Alec, it caused some fear that the company was setting a precedent for yanking features on a whim.

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Facebook Says Political Candidates Can Use Paid Memes

Slashdot - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 01:20
Facebook said Friday that political candidates, campaigns and groups can use paid branded content across its platforms, a clarification prompted by a move from Michael Bloomberg's campaign to pay top Instagram influencers to post memes on its behalf. Axios reports: Its policy didn't explicitly state that it was OK for candidates to use branded content posts, but after hearing from various campaigns about the issue, Facebook moved to clarify its stance. Facebook has agreed that branded content should be allowed to be used by candidates, as long as the candidates are authorized and the creators disclose paid partnerships through branded content tools, according to a spokesperson. Facebook previously prohibited political candidates and campaigns from running branded content by default because it wanted to avoid any risk that such actions could be viewed as accounts giving monetary contributions to campaigns. It's tweaking its approach now -- only in the U.S. -- because it believes that this is no longer a concern, given that it doesn't provide payments as a feature of its branded content tools. If a campaign were to buy ads to boost its branded content, then it would be subject to Facebook's advertising policies. That paid promotion would then need to be included in Facebook public, searchable political ad library for seven years.

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