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AT&T Considers Buying Time Warner ( 39

In what would likely be one of the largest telecommunications takeovers in American history, Bloomberg is reporting that ATT has discussed the idea of a possible merger or other partnership with Time Warner Inc (may be paywalled; alternate source). Bloomberg reports: The talks, which at this stage are informal, have focused on building relations between the companies rather than establishing the terms of a specific transaction, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private. Neither side has yet hired a financial adviser, the people said. Acquiring Time Warner would give ATT, one of the biggest providers of pay-TV and of wireless and home internet service in the U.S., a collection of popular programming to offer to subscribers, from HBO to NBA basketball to the Cartoon Network. ATT CEO Randall Stephenson has been looking to add more content and original programming as part of his plan to transform the Dallas-based telecommunications company into a media and entertainment giant. Time Warner Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes is a willing seller if he gets an offer he thinks is fair, said one of the people. Bewkes and his board rejected an $85-a-share approach in 2014 from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc., which valued Time Warner at more than $75 billion. Last year, ATT paid $48.5 billion to acquire satellite-TV provider DirecTV, its biggest deal in at least 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. ATT has been developing an internet-based version of the pay-TV service, called DirecTV now.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Thinks Space Can Be the New Internet ( 74

Speaking at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco today, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said space is essentially a new internet, as it is the next frontier that needs new infrastructure to support new entrepreneurs. He said the purpose of Blue Origin is to build out a similar kind of infrastructure for space that Amazon used to operate during the days of the early internet, such as the United States Postal Service and long distance phone network. The Verge reports: "Two kids in their dorm room can reinvent an industry," Bezos said, referring to the strengths of the modern internet. "Two kids in their dorm room cannot do anything interesting in space." Bezos says rocket reusability needs to be improved, and both Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX are working toward the goal of vastly reducing the cost of sending payloads to space. Bezos said there's also a number of restraints right now that prevent the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that helped create Amazon do the same for a next-generation space venture. "We need to be able to put big things in space at low cost." Bezos talked of his earliest days at Amazon more than 20 years ago, where he was driving packages himself to the post office with a 10-person team. "We were sitting on a bunch of a heavy lifting infrastructure," he said. "For example, there was already a gigantic network called United States Postal Service. The internet itself was sitting on time of the long distance phone network." This is the kind of infrastructure Bezos hopes to build out with Blue Origin. "Every time you figure out some way of providing tools and services that allow other people to deploy their creativity, you're really onto something," Bezos said. But building that infrastructure space is still the grandest dream. "I think space is about to enter a golden age."

Hotspot Vigilantes Are Trying to Beam the Internet To Julian Assange ( 190

Ecuadorian government said earlier this week that it did cut off Julian Assange's internet connection. They noted that Assange's continued interference in the U.S. election campaign was the reason why they decided to disconnect Assange from the internet. But it appears some people are going to great lengths to beam internet connectivity to Mr. Assange. This week 4chan urged people to head to the embassy to set up mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, and many are doing just that. From a Motherboard report:"We are now calling all BRITS to get their ass down to the embassy and stand around in mass, taking shifts with wifi-hotspots on hand!" reads the post. "Give Assange constant network and morale support all while streaming it live for the world to see." Are people actually going to try this? Motherboard UK visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has claimed political asylum since August 2012, today to find out. Admittedly, on a late October afternoon, things were rather quiet on the street outside the embassy. Nevertheless, I found my guy. "Marco" was loitering outside the embassy, turning on and off his mobile hotspot. I approached him, and while tentative at first, Marco finally started explaining how he was hoping to aid Assange.
Open Source

Blockchain Platform Developed by Banks To Be Open-Source ( 32

A blockchain platform developed by a group that includes more than 70 of the world's biggest financial institutions is making its code publicly available, in what could become the industry standard for the nascent technology, reports Reuters. From the article: The Corda platform has been developed by a consortium brought together by New-York-based financial technology company R3. It represents the biggest shared effort among banks, insurers, fund managers and other players to work on using blockchain technology in the financial markets. Blockchain, which originated in the digital currency bitcoin, works as a web-based transaction-processing and settlement system. It creates a "golden record" of any given set of data that is automatically replicated for all parties in a secure network, eliminating any need for third-party verification. Banks reckon the technology could save them money by making their operations faster, more efficient and more transparent. They are racing to build products using the technology that will generate new revenue, with dozens of patent applications filed for blockchain-based products by Wall Street's top lenders. R3 says it hopes its platform will become the industry standard, although its intention is indeed for firms to build products on top of it.

Tesla Bans Customers From Using Autonomous Cars To Earn Money Ride-Sharing ( 293

Late Wednesday, Tesla announced the Model X and Model S electric vehicles, boasting that they will come with the necessary hardware to drive completely autonomously at some point in the future. Naturally, one of the frequent questions that followed the event was: "Can I use my Tesla car as a Uber driver?" Well, Tesla was anticipating this question and even buried the answer on its website. From an ArsTechnica report: On Tesla's website, the section that describes the new "Full Self-Driving Capability" (A $3,000 option at the time of purchase, $4,000 after the fact) states "Please note also that using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year."

Yahoo Wants To Know If FBI Ordered Yahoo To Scan Emails ( 85

Reader Trailrunner7 writes: In an odd twist to an already odd story, Yahoo officials have asked the Director of National Intelligence to confirm whether the federal government ordered the company to scan users' emails for specific terms last year and if so, to declassify the order. The letter is the result of news reports earlier this month that detailed an order that the FBI allegedly served on Yahoo in 2015 in an apparent effort to find messages with a specific set of terms. The stories allege that Yahoo complied with the order and installed custom software to accomplish the task. Yahoo officials said at the time the Reuters story came out that there is no such scanning system on its network, but did not say that the scanning software never existed on the network at all. "Yahoo was mentioned specifically in these reports and we find ourselves unable to respond in detail. Your office, however, is well positioned to clarify this matter of public interest. Accordingly, we urge your office to consider the following actions to provide clarity on the matter: (i) confirm whether an order, as described in these media reports, was issued; (ii) declassify in whole or in part such order, if it exists; and (iii) make a sufficiently detailed public and contextual comment to clarify the alleged facts and circumstances," the letter says.

'Cultlike' Devotion: Apple Once Refused To Join Open Compute Project, So Their Entire Networking Team Quit ( 233

mattydread23 writes: Great story about the Open Compute Project from Business Insider's Julie Bort here, including this fun tidbit: "'OCP has a cultlike following,' one person with knowledge of the situation told Business Insider. 'The whole industry, internet companies, vendors, and enterprises are monitoring OCP.' OCP aims to do for computer hardware what the Linux operating system did for software: make it 'open source' so anyone can take the designs for free and modify them, with contract manufacturers standing by to build them. In its six years, OCP has grown into a global entity, with board members from Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Intel, and Microsoft. In fact, there's a well-known story among OCP insiders that demonstrates this cultlike phenom. It involves Apple's networking team. This team was responsible for building a network at Apple that was so reliable, it never goes down. Not rarely -- never. Building a 100% reliable network to meet Apple's exacting standards was no easy task. So, instead of going it alone under Apple's secrecy, the Apple networking team wanted to participate in the revolution, contributing and receiving help. But when the Apple team asked to join OCP, Apple said 'no.' 'The whole team quit the same week,' this person told us."

Millimeter-wave 5G Modem Coming Mid-2018 With 5Gbps Peak Download ( 39

Qualcomm is promising to launch its first 5G modem in 2018, even though basic standards for 5G have yet to be established, nor even which part of the radio spectrum it will use. From an ArsTechnica report: Dubbed the Snapdragon X50, the San Diego chipmaker says its new modem will be able to deliver blindingly fast peak download speeds of around 5Gbps. The X50 5G will at first operate with a bandwidth of about 800MHz on the 28GHz millimetre wave (mmWave in Qualcomm jargon) spectrum, a frequency that's also being investigated by Samsung, Nokia, and Verizon. However, the powers that be have far from settled on this area of the spectrum, with 73GHz also being mooted. In the UK, Ofcom is investigating several bands in a range between 6GHz and 100GHz. As the industry as a whole is a long way from consensus, this could be Qualcomm's bid to get the final frequency locked down well before 2020 -- the year that 5G is expected to reach any kind of consumer penetration. "The Snapdragon X50 5G modem heralds the arrival of 5G as operators and OEMs reach the cellular network and device testing phase," said Qualcomm exec veep Cristiano Amon. "Utilising our long history of LTE and Wi-Fi leadership, we are thrilled to deliver a product that will help play a critical role in bringing 5G devices and networks to reality. This shows that we're not just talking about 5G, we're truly committed to it."

Google's AI Can Now Learn From Its Own Memory Independently ( 70

The DeepMind artificial intelligence (AI) being developed by Google's parent company, Alphabet, can now intelligently build on what's already inside its memory, the system's programmers have announced. An anonymous reader writes: Their new hybrid system -- called a Differential Neural Computer (DNC) -- pairs a neural network with the vast data storage of conventional computers, and the AI is smart enough to navigate and learn from this external data bank. What the DNC is doing is effectively combining external memory (like the external hard drive where all your photos get stored) with the neural network approach of AI, where a massive number of interconnected nodes work dynamically to simulate a brain. "These models... can learn from examples like neural networks, but they can also store complex data like computers," write DeepMind researchers Alexander Graves and Greg Wayne in a blog post. At the heart of the DNC is a controller that constantly optimizes its responses, comparing its results with the desired and correct ones. Over time, it's able to get more and more accurate, figuring out how to use its memory data banks at the same time.

More Unblocking Companies Give Up Their Fight Against Netflix ( 211

Earlier this year, Netflix announced it was going to block the VPN services that were circumventing the streaming service's geoblocking technology, and it seems in the months since many of the top VPN players have given up on finding ways to workaround Netflix's block tech. From a report on TechSpot (condensed): Australian company uFlix discovered that some of its users could no longer access Netflix. It said that a fix was coming soon, but, uFlix announced recently in a recent blog post that it has given up the fight. "As of today we are going to stop supporting Netflix as an unblocked channel. Unfortunately every time we set up a new network or find a workaround it is getting blocked within hours." Uflix isn't the only service to throw in the towel -- most of the other unblockers have quietly decided to stop trying to evade Netflix's geoblocks, as more customers complain they can no longer watch the streaming site. Popular VPN TorGuard had assured customers that the crackdown wouldn't affect them. But there is no mention of Netflix on TorGuard's website, and its shared Netflix server was taken offline four months ago.

The Slashdot Interview With Security Expert Mikko Hypponen: 'Backupception' 38

You asked, he answered!

Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer at security firm F-Secure, has answered a range of your questions. Read on to find his insight on the kind of security awareness training we need, whether anti-virus products are relevant anymore, and whether we have already lost the battle to bad guys. Bonus: his take on whether or not you should take backups of your data.

DHS Warns of Mirai Botnet Threat To Cellular Modems ( 21

chicksdaddy writes from a report via The Security Ledger: The Mirai malware that is behind massive denial of service attacks involving hundreds of thousands of "Internet of Things" devices may also affect cellular modems that connect those devices to the internet, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning. An alert issued by DHS's Industrial Control System CERT on Wednesday warned that cellular gateways manufactured by Sierra Wireless are vulnerable to compromise by the Mirai malware. While the routers are not actively being targeted by the malware, "unchanged default factory credentials, which are publicly available, could allow the devices to be compromised," ICS-CERT warned. The alert comes after a number of reports identified devices infected with the Mirai malware as the source of massive denial of service attacks against media websites like Krebs on Security and the French hosting company OVH. The attacks emanated from a global network of hundreds of thousands of infected IP-enabled closed circuit video cameras, digital video recorders (DVRs), network video recorders (NVRs) and other devices. Analysis by the firm Imperva found that Mirai is purpose-built to infect Internet of Things devices and enlist them in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The malware searches broadly for insecure or weakly secured IoT devices that can be remotely accessed and broken into with easily guessed (factory default) usernames and passwords. The report adds: "Sierra said in an alert that the company has 'confirmed reports of the 'Mirai' malware infecting AirLink gateways that are using the default ACEmanager password and are reachable from the public internet.' Sierra Wireless LS300, GX400, GX/ES440, GX/ES450, and RV50 were identified in the bulletin as vulnerable to compromise by Mirai. Furthermore, devices attached to he gateway's local area network may also be vulnerable to infection by the Mirai malware, ICS-CERT warned. Sierra Wireless asked affected users to reboot their gateway. Mirai is memory resident malware, meaning that is erased upon reboot. Furthermore, administrators were advised to change the password to the management interface by logging in locally, or remotely to a vulnerable device."

President Obama Orders Government To Plan For 'Space Weather' ( 169

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: President Barack Obama today issued an Executive Order that defines what the nation's response should be to a catastrophic space weather event that takes out large portions of the electrical power grid, resulting in cascading failures that would affect key services such as water supply, healthcare, and transportation. The Executive Order ideally will coordinate the responses across government agencies such as NASA, the Departments of Homeland Security, Energy and others to help minimize economic loss and save lives by enhancing national security, identifying successful mitigation technologies, and ordering the creation of nationwide response and recovery plans and procedures, the White House stated. Further, the Executive Order will enhance the scientific and technical capabilities of the United States, including improved prediction of space-weather events and their effects on infrastructure systems and services. By this action, the Federal Government will lead by example and help motivate State and local governments, and other nations, to create communities that are more resilient to the hazards of space weather. The Executive Order reinforces the formal National Space Weather Strategy and accompanying Action Plan which were announced last year. It also bolsters other work such as the replacement of aging satellites that monitor and help forecast space weather, proposing space-weather standards for both the national and international air space, development of regulations to ensure the continued operation of the electric grid during an extreme space weather event, proposing a new option for replacing crucial Extra High Voltage (EHV) transformers damaged by space weather, and developing domestic production sources for EHV transformers, the White House wrote.

Beijing Said Facebook and Google Are Welcome Back To China as Long as They 'Respect China's Laws' ( 77

Will Facebook and Google come back to China? The Chinese government says they can, as long as they "respect China's laws." From a Quartz report: Yesterday at a press conference held in preparation for the upcoming World Internet Conference, a Bloomberg reporter asked Ren Xianliang, deputy director of the Cyberspace Administration of China (which oversees internet governance) if the government would permit the two American internet giants to re-enter China. Both companies still have business-facing services in China, but Google effectively closed its consumer-facing search engine there in 2010, and authorities have blocked Facebook's social network since 2009. To this, Ren said, "China's internet development has always maintained a policy of openness. As for foreign internet companies, as long as they respect China's laws, don't harm the interests of the country, and don't harm the interests of consumers, we welcome them to enter China, where they can together share the benefits of China's developing internet."

Yahoo Patents Smart Billboard That Would Deliver Targeted Ads To Passersby or Motorists ( 131

An anonymous reader writes: Yahoo has filed a patent for advertising billboards outfitted with a wide array of sensors -- including drone-based cameras -- which would use facial and vehicle recognition, data brokers, cell-tower information and social network information to attempt to identify worthwhile advertising targets and aim personalized ads at them as they pass on foot or in cars. The scheme, which was submitted on October 6th, anticipates using the same kind of micro-auction processes that currently determine which ads users see in webpages and mobile apps. The implementation of public ad-targeting brings up some fascinating and chilling prospects, as users find that the ads which "bloom" around them betray much about their private lives. Yahoo provides an example via its patent application: "According to one example, a digital billboard adjacent a busy freeway might be instrumented with or located near traffic sensors that detect information about the context of the vehicles approaching the billboard, e.g., the number and average speed of the vehicles. Such information might be used in conjunction with information about the time of day and/or the day of the week (e.g., Monday morning rush hour) to select advertisements for display that would appeal to an expected demographic and to display the advertisements for durations that are commensurate with the level of traffic congestion." The patent application also mentions how it will gather required information from individuals: "Various types of data (e.g., cell tower data, mobile app location data, image data, etc.) can be used to identify specific individuals in an audience in position to view advertising content. Similarly, vehicle navigation/tracking data from vehicles equipped with such systems could be used to identify specific vehicles and/or vehicle owners. Demographic data (e.g., as obtained from a marketing or user database) for the audience can thus be determined for the purpose of, for example, determining whether and/or the degree to which the demographic profile of the audience corresponds to a target demographic."

Outsourced IT Workers Ask Sen Feinstein For Help, Get Form Letter in Return ( 813

Reader dcblogs writes: A University of California IT employee whose job is being outsourced to India recently wrote Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for help. Feinstein's office sent back a letter addressing manufacturing job losses, not IT, and offered the worker no assistance. "I am being asked to do knowledge transfer to a foreigner so they can take over my job in February of 2017," the employee, wrote in part. The employee is part of a group of 50 IT workers and another 30 contractors facing layoffs after the university hired an offshore outsourcing firm. The firm, India-based HCL, won a contract to manage infrastructure services. Since the layoffs became public, the school has posted Labor Condition Applications (LCA) notices -- as required by federal law when H-1B workers are being placed. UCSF employees have seen these notices and made some available to Computerworld. They show that the jobs posted are for programmer analyst II and network administrator IV. For the existing UCSF employees, the notices were disheartening. "Many of us can easily fill the job. We are training them to replace us," said one employee who requested anonymity because he is still employed by the university.

Sprint To Provide 1 Million Students With Free Internet, Mobile Devices ( 65

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Wireless carrier Sprint Corp on Tuesday pledged to provide 1 million U.S. high school students with free mobile devices and internet access as part of a White House initiative to expand opportunities for lower income kids. Marcelo Claure, chief executive of Sprint, said the plan builds on the company's prior commitment through the White House's ConnectED program to get 50,000 students high speed internet. He said Sprint realized that while providing students with internet at school was helpful, students would still need to be able to use the internet at home. "We are going to equip 1 million kids with the tools they need to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams," Claure told reporters on a White House call. Sprint aims to give cell phones, tablets, laptops or mobile hot spots to students who do not have internet at home. Students would be able to choose the type of device that might meet their needs and it would be coupled with four years of free data plans. The company hopes to reach its goal of a million students in five years. Manufacturers have agreed to provide the mobile devices at no cost, Claure said. He also said the company would encourage customers to donate their old devices to the program and that it would not cost Sprint much to allow the free use of its network.
The Internet

Yahoo Disables Automatic Email Forwarding Feature, Making It Difficult For Users To Leave ( 205

After it was revealed that Yahoo secretly scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence agencies, now's as good of time as any to leave Yahoo Mail. However, the company has made it more difficult to leave by disabling the automatic email forwarding feature. Reuters reports: While those who have set up forwarding in the past are unaffected, users who would want to leave following recent hacking and surveillance revelations are struggling to shift to rival services, the AP reported on Monday. The company has been under scrutiny from investors after disclosing last month that at least 500 million user accounts were stolen from its network in 2014. The AP said that several users were leaving or had already left the service because of the negative headlines. The company's website says that the "automatic email forwarding" feature is under development and has been temporarily disabled.

Google Releases An Open Source Font That Supports 800 Languages ( 175

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Hot Hardware: It's been working on the project over the past five years in collaboration with Monotype in hopes of eradicating so-called "tofu" -- the blank boxes you see when a PC or website can't display a particular text -- from the web. Noto, or No more tofu, is Google's answer, and it's available now to download...

"We are thrilled to have played such an important role in what has become one of the most significant type projects of all time," said Scott Landers, president and CEO of Monotype... Monotype played the biggest role, though Google also collaborated with Adobe and had a network of volunteer reviewers. As far as Monotype is concerned, Noto is one of the expansive typography projects ever undertaken.

There's 110,000 characters, and Google says the project "required design and technical testing in hundreds of languages."

MITRE Dangles $50,000 Prize For Spotting Rogue Internet of Things Devices ( 51

Long-time Slashdot reader chicksdaddy quotes Security Ledger: MITRE Corporation, the non-profit corporation that helps tackle some of the trickiest technical and security challenges out there, is dangling a $50,000 prize for anyone who can develop a solution for spotting rogue devices within an Internet of Things network...saying that it's looking for ground breaking new approaches to securing diverse Internet of Things networks like those in connected homes.

"Network administrators need to know exactly what is in the environment, or the network -- including when an adversary has switched out one device for another. In other words, is the smart thermostat we see today the same one that was there yesterday? We are looking for a unique identifier or fingerprint to enable administrators to enumerate the IoT devices while passively observing the network... "
Their registration form will be open through October, and the challenge will end after four weeks in November, or "whenever someone wins."

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