New submitter BrokenHalo writes "Google has revealed that it has 30 balloons floating over New Zealand in a project to bring free Wi-Fi to earthquake-stricken, rural or poor areas. They're calling it Project Loon. '[W]e’ve built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster. As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote, and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters.' Eventually, as the balloons move across the stratosphere, consumers in participating countries along the 40th parallel in the Southern Hemisphere could tap into the service. The technology will be trialled in Australia next year, possibly in Tasmania. If the latter happens to be true, then you'll probably hear the telcos' screams in New York."
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An anonymous reader writes "Red Hat will switch the default database in its enterprise distribution, RHEL, from MySQL to MariaDB, when version 7 is released. MySQL's first employee in Australia, Arjen Lentz, said Fedora and OpenSuSE were community driven, whereas RHEL's switch to MariaDB was a corporate decision with far-reaching implications. 'I presume there is not much love lost between Red Hat and Oracle (particularly since the "Oracle Linux" stuff started) but I'm pretty sure this move won't make Oracle any happier,' said Lentz, who now runs his own consultancy, Open Query, from Queensland. 'Thus it's a serious move in political terms.' He said that in practical terms, MariaDB should now get much more of a public footprint with people (people knowing about MariaDB and it being a/the replacement for MySQL), and direct acceptance both by individual users and corporates."
Nerval's Lobster writes "In an open letter addressed to U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller, Google chief legal officer David Drummond again insisted that reports of his company freely offering user data to the NSA and other agencies were untrue. 'However,' he wrote, 'government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.' In light of that, Drummond had a request of the two men: 'We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures—in terms of both the number we receive and their scope.' Apparently Google's numbers would show 'that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made.' Google, Drummond added, 'has nothing to hide.'" Another open letter was sent to Congress from a variety of internet companies and civil liberties groups (headlined by Mozilla, the EFF, the ACLU, and the FSF), asking them to enact legislation to prohibit the kind of surveillance apparently going on at the NSA and to hold accountable the people who implemented it. (A bipartisan group of senators has just come forth with legislation that would end such surveillance.) In addition to the letter, the ACLU sent a lawsuit as well, directed at President Obama, Eric Holder, the NSA, Verizon and the Dept. of Justice (filing, PDF). They've also asked (PDF) for a release of court records relevant to the scandal. Mozilla has also launched Stopwatching.us, a campaign to "demand a full accounting of the extent to which our online data, communications and interactions are being monitored." Other reactions: Tim Berners-Lee is against it, Australia's Foreign Minister doesn't mind it, the European Parliament has denounced it, and John Oliver is hilarious about it (video). Meanwhile, Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked the information about the NSA's surveillance program, is being praised widely as a hero and a patriot. There's already a petition on Whitehouse.gov to pardon him for his involvement, and it's already reached half the required number of signatures for a response from the Obama administration.
An anonymous reader writes "Discovered a day before its closest approach to Earth, Asteroid 2013 LR6 came within roughly 65,000 miles of the planet as it flew over the Southern Ocean of Tasmania, Australia at 12:42 a.m. EDT on June 8. Despite being more than half the size of the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February, the 30-foot-wide asteroid posed no threat, according to NASA."
aesoteric writes "A man's backyard beer fridge in Australia has been busted interfering with the cellular network of major carrier Telstra. Engineers used an internally-developed software 'robot' to crawl log files from the network and sent a field team out to pinpoint the cause of the interference."
mask.of.sanity writes "A researcher has found flaws in the way major Australian banks handle customer login credentials which could allow the details to be siphoned off by malware. He built proof of concept malware to pull unencrypted passwords, account numbers and access credentials from volatile memory of popular web browsers every two hours."
Bismillah writes "The Australian government chief technical officer wants some views on proposals for the official standard operating environment, which features OpenDocument as the proposed document format. Otherwise, the Aussie government is pretty much a Microsoft shop, with Windows 7 x64 and IE10 as the standard platform. 'Interoperability and support for several versions of Microsoft Office is cited by the AGCTO as reasons to go with ODF, along with flexibility and the fact that the format is continously updated and developed. Spreadsheet formulae are now included in the ODF 1.2 specification as well and the AGTO believes that this, along with Microsoft Office 2013 supporting the format, will help to reliably transfer formulae between applications.' According to the CTO's call for opinions, 'Standardizing on a format supported by a wide range of office suites provides for the greatest possible degree of interoperability without mandating the use of a specific product, as well as providing the best basis for reliable interchange of information between agencies deploying differing office productivity suites.'"
SandmanWAIX writes "In an embarrassing revelation today it appears as though the blueprints to the new Australian federal intelligence agency ASIO headquarters have been stolen, reportedly by a cyber attack originating from China. Several other governmental departments have been reported as being breached also. The blueprints which have been compromised include the security system, comms network, floor plan and server locations of the new ASIO headquarters located in the Australian capital city, Canberra."
An anonymous reader writes "When it comes to spotting malware, signature-based detection, heuristics and cloud-based recognition and information sharing used by many antivirus solutions today work well up a certain point, but the polymorphic malware still gives them a run for their money. At the annual AusCert conference held this week in Australia a doctorate candidate from Deakin University in Melbourne has presented the result of his research and work that just might be the solution to this problem. Security researcher Silvio Cesare had noticed that malware code consists of small "structures" that remain the same even after moderate changes to its code. He created Simseer, a free online service that performs automated analysis on submitted malware samples and tells and shows you just how similar they are to other submitted specimens. It scores the similarity between malware (any kind of software, really), and it charts the results and visualizes program relationships as an evolutionary tree."
lukehopewell1 writes "'Untraceable, undetectable, cheap and freely available.' That's how Australian police have described the 3D-printable gun known as The Liberator today as they announce that they will be seeking to make the download, construction and possession of these weapons illegal. In their tests, Police printed the 15 parts required to assemble The Liberator in 27 hours and assembled it within 60 seconds with a firing pin fashioned out of a steel nail. The two guns were test fired into a block of resin designed to simulate human muscle, and the first bullet penetrated the resin block up to 17 centimeters. NSW Police Ballistics division confirm that it would be a fatal wound if pointed at someone."
First time accepted submitter Aaron B Lingwood writes "As reported by TorrentFreak, Viacom, Paramount, Fox and Lionsgate have all asked Google to take down links pointing to the Pirate Bay documentary 'TPB-AFK.' The film, created by Simon Klose, is available for no cost and has already been watched by millions of people. The public response to this free release model has been overwhelmingly positive, but it's now meeting resistance from Hollywood, TPB's arch rival. Pirate Party Australia opines 'Hollywood is using takedown notices to censor Pirate Bay doco, is it incompetence or malice? Always hard to tell.' Whichever the answer, the system is definitely broken."
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian government came a step closer to formalising its plans to make Asian language study compulsory for schools this week. It has released a draft curriculum for public consultation which reveals plans to include Indonesian, Korean and french language in the curriculum. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard publicly stated in September 2012 that in response to the "staggering growth" in the region, the government would be instigating 25 key measures to strengthen and exploit links with Asia. The plan includes the requirement that one third of civil servants and company directors have a "deep knowledge," thousands of scholarships for Asian students, and the opportunity for every schoolchild to learn one of four "priority" languages- Chinese, Hindi, Japanese or Indonesian."
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian government has secretly censored over 1,000 web sites through a hitherto-unused internet censorship law. In April the Melbourne Free University was blocked without any explanation. Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act allows the government to close web sites without warning to "uphold laws, protect public revenue and safeguard national security". This is open to abuse as Australians only have limited free speech rights which already make it difficult for the press to report corruption."
An anonymous reader writes "Remember how the Australian Government tried to enact a big bad Internet filter on the population? Well, that effort failed, but now there's a new initiative in place. At least one government agency, the country's financial regulator, has quietly started issuing legal notices to ISPs requesting them to block certain types of websites deemed illegal. There's no oversight or appeals process, and already a false positive event has resulted in some 1,200 innocent websites being blocked from Australians viewing them. Sounds ideal, right?"
bennyboy64 writes "An Australian university appears to be excelling at cultivating some of Australia's best computer hackers. Following the University of NSW's students recently placing first, second and third in a hacking war game (the first place winners also won first place last year), The Sydney Morning Herald reports on what exactly about the NSW institution is breeding some of Australia's best hackers. It finds that a lecturer and mentor to the students with controversial views on responsible disclosure appears to the be the reason for their success."
New submitter lxrocks writes "Tax authorities in the U.S., Britain, and Australia have announced they are working with a gigantic cache of leaked data that may be the beginnings of one of the largest tax investigations in history. The secret records are believed to include those obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that lay bare the individuals behind covert companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands, Singapore and other offshore hideaways. The IRS said, 'There is nothing illegal about holding assets through offshore entities; however, such offshore arrangements are often used to avoid or evade tax liabilities on income represented by the principal or on the income generated by the underlying assets. In addition, advisors may be subject to civil penalties or criminal prosecution for promoting such arrangements as a means to avoid or evade tax liability or circumvent information reporting requirements.'"
Gunkerty Jeb writes "Industrial control minded researchers from the security firm Cylance launched a custom exploit against a building management system deployed at Google's Sydney, Australia office, gaining access to a configuration file containing device administration passwords that could be used to gain complete control of the device in question. This vulnerability in Tridium's Niagara framework affects an unknown number of organizations aside from Google. In fact, Tridium claims on its website that 'there are over 245,000 instances of the Niagara Framework deployed worldwide.' Cylance said its scans revealed some 25,000 similarly vulnerable systems facing the Internet."
freddienumber13 writes "The CCTV cameras operated by the local government in the country town of Nowra, NSW (Australia) have been turned off following an order by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. The local government is crying because it believes that it is losing an effective method in combating crime in public. Locals however are rejoicing that they are no longer being recorded whilst walking down the street."
mask.of.sanity writes "Australia's plans for a data breach notification scheme have been revealed which will force organizations to report serious breaches to affected victims. The plans, which are still in a draft form, show that the country's privacy commissioner could force businesses to inform press if the breaches are bad enough, pursue fines of up to $1.7 million for organizations that are repeatedly breached and force businesses to adopt stronger security controls."
Following a conference on space debris, the European Space Agency has warned that the amount of space junk floating around in orbit is a problem that needs to be dealt with 'urgently.' They are calling for a number of test missions to examine different methods of controlling or removing the debris. "Our understanding of the growing space debris problem can be compared with our understanding of the need to address Earth’s changing climate some 20 years ago," said Heiner Klinkrad, head of the agency's Space Debris office. A couple years ago we discussed an idea for de-orbiting space junk by hitting it with a laser to change its momentum. An Australian company has now received funding from NASA and the Australian government to try just that. "We've been developing tracking systems using lasers for some years, so we can actually track very small objects with a laser rangefinder to very high accuracy. ... If you allow that velocity to change over a period of perhaps 24 hours, then you can get actually a 100-meter shift in the location of an object to deflect it from colliding with another space debris object." Other plans are in development as well, and there currently exists an international guideline saying that new hardware must de-orbit and burn up in the atmosphere after 25 years of operation — but compliance is lagging. Meanwhile, collision events are becoming more common (PDF), and experts worry about the safety of the International Space Station and important satellites. "Their direct costs and the costs of losing them will by far exceed the cost of remedial activities."