Education

Illinois Students Suspected of Cyberbullying Must Provide Social Media Passwords 320

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
derekmead writes: School districts in Illinois are telling parents that a new law may require school officials to demand the social media passwords of students if they are suspected in cyberbullying cases or are otherwise suspected of breaking school rules. The law (PDF), which went into effect on January 1, defines cyberbullying and makes harassment on Facebook, Twitter, or via other digital means a violation of the state's school code, even if the bullying happens outside of school hours. A letter sent out to parents in the Triad Community Unit School District #2, a district located just over the Missouri-Illinois line near St. Louis, that was obtained by Motherboard says that school officials can demand students give them their passwords.
Programming

Interviews: Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose Answer Your Questions 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."
Hardware Hacking

Insurance Company Dongles Don't Offer Much Assurance Against Hacking 198

Posted by timothy
from the best-hanging-from-rearview-mirror dept.
According to a story at Forbes, Digital Bond Labs hacker Corey Thuen has some news that should make you think twice about saving a few bucks on insurance by adding a company-supplied car-tracking OBD2 dongle: It’s long been theorised that [Progressive Insurance's Snapshot and other] such usage-based insurance dongles, which are permeating the market apace, would be a viable attack vector. Thuen says he’s now proven those hypotheses; previous attacks via dongles either didn’t name the OBD2 devices or focused on another kind of technology, namely Zubie, which tracks the performance of vehicles for maintenance and safety purposes. ... He started by extracting the firmware from the dongle, reverse engineering it and determining how to exploit it. It emerged the Snapshot technology, manufactured by Xirgo Technologies, was completely lacking in the security department, Thuen said. “The firmware running on the dongle is minimal and insecure. It does no validation or signing of firmware updates, no secure boot, no cellular authentication, no secure communications or encryption, no data execution prevention or attack mitigation technologies basically it uses no security technologies whatsoever.”
Security

19,000 French Websites Hit By DDoS, Defaced In Wake of Terror Attacks 206

Posted by timothy
from the just-don't-say-mon-dieu dept.
An anonymous reader writes Since the three day terror attack that started in France on January 7 with the attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, 19,000 websites of French-based companies have been targeted by cyber attackers. This unprecedented avalanche of cyber attacks targeted both government sites and that of big and small businesses. Most were low-level DDoS attacks, and some were web defacements. Several websites in a number of towns in the outskirts of Paris have been hacked and covered with an image of an ISIS flag. The front pages of the official municipality websites have been covered with the Jihadist militant group's black flag. In a report, Radware researchers noted that Islamic hacker group AnonGhost has also launched a "digital jihad" against France.
Communications

Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat 156

Posted by timothy
from the just-ask-ram-sweeney dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: They would never admit it, but your high school admins would probably breathe a sigh of relief if all of their sexting-mad students would go ahead and install Snapchat so that evidence of (sometimes) illegal sexting would disappear into the ether. They can't recommend that you do this, because it would sound like an implicit endorsement, just like they can't recommend designated drivers for teen drinking parties -- but it's a good bet they would be grateful. Read on for the rest.
Wireless Networking

Pirate Activist Shows Politicians What Digital Surveillance Looks Like 81

Posted by timothy
from the count-your-spoons-around-the-public-servants dept.
An anonymous reader writes How to make politicians really understand the dangers of mass digital surveillance and the importance of information security? Gustav Nipe, the 26-year old president of the Swedish Pirate Party's youth wing, tried to do it by setting up an open Wi-Fi network at the Society and Defence National Conference held in Sälen, Sweden, and collecting and analyzing the metadata of conference attendees who connected to it. Nipe set up an open wireless Internet access point named "Open Guest" and over 100 delegates used this particular unsecured Wi-Fi network to go online. The collected metadata showed that, among other sites, they visited those of daily Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Swedish private ads website Blocket, eBay, and tourism sites. "This was during the day when I suppose they were being paid to be at the conference working," Nipe noted for The Local.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Volatility Puts Miners Under Pressure 290

Posted by timothy
from the coulda-shoulda-woulda dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The virtual currency Bitcoin lost 21 per cent of its value yesterday, equating to a total loss this year of 44 per cent. Reports have suggested that this rapid fall is squeezing computer supporting systems and is raising alarm about its future viability. Bitcoin's value fell to $179.37, 85 per cent lower than its record peak of $1,165 at the end of 2013. In total, nearly $11.3bn has been lost in Bitcoin's value since its 2013 high. The decline has raised concern for Bitcoin 'miners' who support the transactions made in the digital currency, and whose profits become squeezed as its price falls against traditional currencies." The Coindesk article in the linked story gives a blow-by-blow on yesterday's valuation drop; right now, Bitcoin has jumped back up and stands at just over $216.
IBM

The Mainframe Is Dead! Long Live the Mainframe! 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new-stuff dept.
HughPickens.com writes The death of the mainframe has been predicted many times over the years but it has prevailed because it has been overhauled time and again. Now Steve Lohr reports that IBM has just released the z13, a new mainframe engineered to cope with the huge volume of data and transactions generated by people using smartphones and tablets. "This is a mainframe for the mobile digital economy," says Tom Rosamilia. "It's a computer for the bow wave of mobile transactions coming our way." IBM claims the z13 mainframe is the first system able to process 2.5 billion transactions a day and has a host of technical improvements over its predecessor, including three times the memory, faster processing and greater data-handling capability. IBM spent $1 billion to develop the z13, and that research generated 500 new patents, including some for encryption intended to improve the security of mobile computing. Much of the new technology is designed for real-time analysis in business. For example, the mainframe system can allow automated fraud prevention while a purchase is being made on a smartphone. Another example would be providing shoppers with personalized offers while they are in a store, by tracking their locations and tapping data on their preferences, mainly from their previous buying patterns at that retailer.

IBM brings out a new mainframe about every three years, and the success of this one is critical to the company's business. Mainframes alone account for only about 3 percent of IBM's sales. But when mainframe-related software, services and storage are included, the business as a whole contributes 25 percent of IBM's revenue and 35 percent of its operating profit. Ronald J. Peri, chief executive of Radixx International was an early advocate in the 1980s of moving off mainframes and onto networks of personal computers. Today Peri is shifting the back-end computing engine in the Radixx data center from a cluster of industry-standard servers to a new IBM mainframe and estimates the total cost of ownership including hardware, software and labor will be 50 percent less with a mainframe. "We kind of rediscovered the mainframe," says Peri.
Education

South Africa Begins Ambitious Tablets In Schools Pilot Project 66

Posted by timothy
from the goverment-schools dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Guateng province — which is home to Johannesburg and Pretoria and is the richest state in sub-Saharan Africa — has just kicked off a pilot project to replace textbooks with tablets in seven government schools. If successful, the project will be extended to all 44 000 schools in the area. It's all been put together in a hurry — the local minister for education announced it in a media interview less than a year ago and details have never been made fully public, but he's hoping it will be an end to 'Irish Coffee' education in which rich white students float to the top." From the article: The classroom of the future being piloted is modelled on the system that’s been in use at Sunward Park High School in Boksburg for the two years. That former “model C” was the first state school in South Africa to go textbook free, and has pioneered the use of tablets in public education here. ... As with Sunward Park, the schools in this new pilot will be using a centralised portal developed by Bramley’s MIB Software for managing tablets and aggregating educational content into a single portal. MIB’s backend pulls in CAPS aligned digital textbooks from the likes of Via Afrika as well as extra resources from around the web. Content from Wikipedia, the BBC, the complete works of Shakespeare and Khan Academy is all cached locally for teachers to reference during lessons and pupils to use for self-directed study and research.
Data Storage

The Importance of Deleting Old Stuff 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-don't-need-meeting-notes-from-2006 dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bruce Schneier has codified another lesson from the Sony Pictures hack: companies should know what data they can safely delete. He says, "One of the social trends of the computerization of our business and social communications tools is the loss of the ephemeral. Things we used to say in person or on the phone we now say in e-mail, by text message, or on social networking platforms. ... Everything is now digital, and storage is cheap — why not save it all?

Sony illustrates the reason why not. The hackers published old e-mails from company executives that caused enormous public embarrassment to the company. They published old e-mails by employees that caused less-newsworthy personal embarrassment to those employees, and these messages are resulting in class-action lawsuits against the company. They published old documents. They published everything they got their hands on."

Schneier recommends organizations immediately prepare a retention/deletion policy so in the likely event their security is breached, they can at least reduce the amount of harm done. What kind of retention policy does your organization enforce? Do you have any personal limits on storing old data?
Education

Chicago E-Learning Scheme Embraces Virtual Badges For Public Schoolers 46

Posted by timothy
from the credit-for-hooky dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Over at the Chicago City of Learning, children are asked to join the CPS Connects initiative and instructed to provide their Chicago Public School (CPS) student ID to "connect your learning experiences in your school and around the city". Doing so, explains the website, will allow kids to "earn digital badges that unlock new, related opportunities and can give access to live learning experiences throughout Chicago from program partners," which will serve as "an indicator of achievement to colleges and employers." The initiative aims to "get 80% of all 3rd-12th grade students to claim their accounts by January 30th." Before you scoff at the idea that a child's future could depend on his or her Digital Badge collection, consider that the supporters helping government make it happen include the MacArthur Foundation, Gates Foundation, and Mozilla, and a number of business and education partners have made public pledges committing to help accelerate the spread and scale of digital badges for learning. Digital badge-based employment has also earned a thumbs-up from the White House. It's unclear, but might make sense that Chicago kids' digital badges will be collected and shared in the citywide data warehouse being built by the 'cradle-to-career' Thrive Chicago initiative, which is working with the Mayor's Office and CPS to develop a "data system that integrates data from multiple partner agencies, links program participation data to other youth data, and provides a web interface where partner agencies can access youth data targeted on improving youth outcomes at the individual and aggregate levels." After all, the data collected will include "student demographics, school attendance, grades, student behavior, out of school time program participation, and progress to graduation." Not only that, Thrive Chicago's Leadership Council includes the interim President of the MacArthur Foundation (as well as Microsoft and IBM employees)." Update: 01/12 15:52 GMT by T : An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the MacArthur Foundation, which has now been corrected.
Crime

Google Fund To Pay For 1 Million Copies of Charlie Hebdo 311

Posted by timothy
from the anti-intimidation dept.
BarbaraHudson writes The Register is reporting that money set aside from a deal with France's publishers is going to pay for the printing of 1 million copies of next weeks' Charlie Hebdo, "Eight of the 12 people killed were journalists attending an editorial meeting, however, a senior editor and the magazine's chief executive were in London at the time of the attack. They have vowed to do a massive 1 million copy print run next week – Charlie Hebdo's circulation is normally around 60k. The cash will come from €60m fund (€20m per year over three years) that supports digital publishing innovation. The fund was set up in 2013 following negotiations between Google and the French government as a remedy to demands from European publishers that Google pay for displaying news snippets in its search results.
Crime

LAPD Orders Body Cams That Will Start Recording When Police Use Tasers 219

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-forward-to-all-the-youtube-clips dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Lily Hay Newman reports that the LAPD has ordered 3,000 Tasers which, when discharged, will automatically activate cameras on officers' uniforms, creating visual records of incidents at a time of mounting concern about excessive force by U.S. law enforcement officers. The new digital Taser X26P weapons record the date, time, and duration of firing, and whether Taser wires actually strike suspects and how long the thousands of volts of electricity pulse through them. "This technology gives a much better picture of what happens in the field," says Steve Tuttle.

The idea of using a Taser discharge as a criterion for activating body cams is promising, especially as more and more police departments adopt body cams and struggle to establish guidelines for when they should be on or off. Police leadership — i.e., chiefs and upper management — is far more supportive of the technology and tends to view body-worn cameras as a tool for increasing accountability and reducing civil liability. On the other hand, the patrol officer culture is concerned that the technology will be an unfair intrusion into their routine activities — for instance, it might invite over-managing minor policy violations. "In addition to these new Taser deployments, we plan to issue a body-worn camera and a Taser device to every officer," says Police Chief Charlie Beck. "It is our goal to make these important tools available to every front line officer over the next few years."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Takes On Online Harassment 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
Gamoid writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has identified online harassment as a major challenge facing free speech on the Internet, and lays out its plan to fix it. They say, "Online harassment is a digital rights issue. At its worst, it causes real and lasting harms to its targets, a fact that must be central to any discussion of harassment. Unfortunately, it's not easy to craft laws or policies that will address those harms without inviting government or corporate censorship and invasions of privacy—including the privacy and free speech of targets of harassment. ... Just because the law sometimes allows a person to be a jerk (or worse) doesn’t mean that others in the community are required to be silent or to just stand by and let people be harassed. We can and should stand up against harassment. Doing so is not censorship—it’s being part of the fight for an inclusive and speech-supporting Internet."
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Options For Cheap Home Automation? 189

Posted by timothy
from the fan-blows-out-the-candles dept.
New submitter goose-incarnated writes I'm looking at cheap and simple home automation. Unfortunately I'm not too clued up on what my options are. There are such a wide array of choices, none of which seem (to me) to be either cheap or simple. I'd like to: Turn switches on/off (lights, wall sockets, general relays, etc); Read the status of on/off switches; Read analog samples (for example, temperature sensors); 'Program' switches based on analog samples/existing switches (for example, program a relay to come on at 30C and go off at 25C, thereby controlling the temperature); Similarly, program switches to go on/off at certain times; Record the samples of analog or digital inputs for a given time . I'd like to do the above using smartphone+bluetooth (for when I'm in the vicinity of the room), or smartdevice+WiFi (for when I'm in the house, somewhere), or even in a pinch, using HTTP to access a server at home from 600km away (which is what I'm willing to do). I'm definitely not willing to stream all my requests/data/responses through a third-party so third party cloud subscription solutions, even if free, are out of the question. Finally (because I know the Slashdot crowd likes a challenge :-)), I'd like something that is easily reprogrammable without having to compile code, then reflash a device, etc. What languages for embedded devices exist for home automation programming, if any. A quick google search reveals nothing specially made for end-users to reprogram their devices, but, like I said above, I'm clueless about options.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF: Apple's Dev Agreement Means No EFF Mobile App For iOS 220

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-for-you dept.
schwit1 writes The EFF launched a new app that will make it easier for people to take action on digital rights issues using their phone. The app allows folks to connect to their action center quickly and easily, using a variety of mobile devices. Sadly, though, they had to leave out Apple devices and the folks who use them. Why? Because they could not agree to the terms in Apple's Developer Agreement and Apple's DRM requirements.
United Kingdom

UK Government Department Still Runs VME Operating System Installed In 1974 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the change-is-scary dept.
Qedward writes: The UK government's Department for Work and Pensions is on the hunt for a new £135,000-a-year CTO, with part of their annual budget of £1 billion and responsibility for DWP's "digital transformation" to oversee the migration of the department's legacy systems which are still run on Fujitsu mainframes using the VME operating system installed in 1974.
Games

Text Editor Created In Minecraft 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the already-has-dedicated-adherents dept.
jones_supa writes: The redstone mechanics in Minecraft can be pushed surprisingly far to create rather advanced digital circuits. Thanks to a user nicknamed Koala_Steamed, there now exists a text editor inside the game (YouTube demonstration). It comes with a 5 x 10 character matrix in which each character uses a starburst (16-segment) display. There are 7.357 x 10^92 different combinations the screen can show, all of which can be controlled from a single line. The scale of the workings used to make this piece of logic, using only redstone, is dauntingly huge.
Movies

Porn Companies Are Going After GitHub 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-it-down dept.
rossgneumann writes Porn production companies are currently engaged in a scorched earth copyright infringement campaign against torrenting sites with URLs containing specific keywords and Github is getting caught in the crossfire. Several Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaints filed to Google by companies representing various porn companies in the last month alone have resulted in dozens of legitimate Github URLs being removed from the search engine's results, TorrentFreak first reported."
Programming

Learn Gate-Array Programming In Python and Software-Defined Radio 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-and-learn dept.
Bruce Perens writes Chris Testa KB2BMH taught a class on gate-array programming the SmartFusion chip, a Linux system and programmable gate-array on a single chip, using MyHDL, the Python Hardware Design Language to implement a software-defined radio transceiver. Watch all 4 sessions: 1, 2, 3, 4. And get the slides and code. Chris's Whitebox hardware design implementing an FCC-legal 50-1000 MHz software-defined transceiver in Open Hardware and Open Source, will be available in a few months. Here's an Overview of Whitebox and HT of the Future. Slashdot readers funded this video and videos of the entire TAPR conference. Thanks!"