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Windows is the Most Open Platform There is, Says Satya Nadella ( 284

On Tuesday in a conversation with Gartner analysts, Satya Nadella talked about the future of AI, the cloud, Windows, and what his company plans to do with LinkedIn. But the most notable remark from Nadella was when he said this, "Windows is the most open platform there is." ZDNet adds: It came in the context of Nadella talking about Microsoft's mission to unite the three big constituencies in the technology world. "That's the approach we've always taken," said Nadella, "bringing users, IT, and developers together... When you bring them together, that's where the magic happens." He reminded the audience of several thousand technology leaders that Microsoft began by making tools, then it made apps, and now it makes platforms. Or, it buys them.

Hackers Steal Credit Card Data From Visitors of US Senate GOP Committee Website ( 27

pdclarry writes: While all of the recent news has been about hacking the Democratic National Committee, apparently the Republicans have also been hacked over many months (since March 2016). This was not about politics, however; it was to steal credit card numbers. Brian Krebs reports: "a report this past week out of The Netherlands suggests Russian hackers have for the past six months been siphoning credit card data from visitors to the web storefront of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). [...] If you purchased a 'Never Hillary' poster or donated funds to the NRSC through its website between March 2016 and the first week of this month [October 2016], there's an excellent chance that your payment card data was siphoned by malware and is now for sale in the cybercrime underground." Krebs says his information comes from Dutch researcher Willem De Groot, co-founder and head of security at Dutch e-commerce site The Republicans were not alone; theirs was just one of 5,900 e-commerce sites hacked by the same Russian actors. You can view De Groot's analysis of the malware planted on the NRSC's site and other services here. Krebs adds: "The NRSC did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but a cached copy of the site's source code from October 5, 2016 indicates the malicious code was on the site at the time (load this link, click 'view source' and then Ctrl-F for '')."

UK Police Begins Deployment of 22,000 Police Body Cameras ( 65

An anonymous reader writes: London's Metropolitan Police Service has begun a roll-out of 22,000 Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras to officers over the city's 32 boroughs after ten years of country-wide trials. The device, which records video only when the officer decides, has a 130-degree field of view and a 30-second buffer which permits police to begin recording even after an event has started. The makers of the camera also provide an Android/iOS app which can allow a remote viewer to connect to an officer's camera, effectively turning police operatives into walking CCTVs. Academic research has suggested that use of BWV cams can reduce complaints against officers by 93%, and the Met contends that the new technology, whose cloud-based systems erases unwanted videos after 31 days, is particularly effective in domestic violence cases.
The Almighty Buck

2016 Has Been an Ugly Year For Tech Layoffs, and It's Going To Get Worse, Says Analyst ( 272

IEEE Spectrum writer Tekla Perry writes: Early this year, analyst Trip Chowdhry from Global Equities Research predicted that the tech world was going to see big layoffs in 2016 -- some 330,000 in all at major tech companies. At the time, these numbers seemed way over the top. Then IBM started slashing jobs in March -- and continued to wield the ax over and over as the year progressed. Yahoo began layoffs of some 15 percent of its employees in February. Intel announced in April that it would lay off 12,000 this year. So, was Chowdhry right? "Yes," he told me when I asked him this week. "The layoffs I predicted have been occurring." And worse, he says, these laid-off workers are never again going to find tech jobs: "They will always remain unemployed," at least in tech, he said. "Their skills will be obsolete." Some of these layoffs are due to a sea change in the industry, as it transforms to the world of mobile and cloud. But some are signs of a bubble about to pop. It's all going to get worse in 2017, he predicts, because that's when the tech bubble will burst. Chowdhry, someone who has never been reluctant to go out on a limb, is predicting that'll happen in March.

Most Businesses Haven't Inspected Cloud Services For Malware ( 34

Ian Barker, reporting for BetaNews: Echoing the findings we reported earlier that companies leave cloud protection to third-parties, a new study from cloud security company Netskope reveals most companies don't scan their cloud services for malware either. The study conducted with the Ponemon Institute shows 48 percent of companies surveyed don't inspect the cloud for malware and 12 percent are unsure if they do or not. Of those that do inspect 57 percent of respondents say they found malware. It also shows that while 49 percent of business applications are now stored in the cloud, fewer than half of them (45 percent) are known, officially sanctioned or approved by IT.

Dropbox, Google Drive, GitHub and Microsoft OneDrive Cloud Services Blocked In Turkey ( 75

An anonymous reader quotes the censorship-monitoring site Turkey Blocks: Turkey has blocked access to Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and partially restricted Google Drive cloud file sharing services following the leak of a set of private emails allegedly belonging to Minister Albayrak by hacktivist group RedHack. Both Google Drive and Dropbox services were issuing SSL errors, indicating intercepted traffic at the national or ISP level. Microsoft OneDrive was also subsequently blocked off throughout Turkey.
The emails reportedly document Turkey's use of pro-government trolls on Twitter -- though ironically, it's Twitter that's now being used to document the censorship. (GitHub was also blocked last night, according to a status update from the group.) Google Drive was even displaying an official notice from the Turkish government's Information and Communication Technologies Authority describing their block as an "administration measure" -- although another Twitter update this morning says Google Drive is now back online after Google complied with the government's takedown order.

Blue Origin Lands Rocket During Launch Escape Test ( 89

SpaceX isn't the only private company interested in reusable rockets. Blue Origin, an American privately-funded aerospace manufacturer established by founder Jeff Bezos, surprised everyone, including itself, by successfully landing its New Shepard rocket in today's in-flight launch escape test. Gizmodo reports: Moments ago, Blue Origin conducted an in flight test of its launch escape system, separating a crew capsule from its New Shepard booster at an altitude of 16,000 feet. This test was critical to ensure that the rocket will be safe for human passengers, whom Blue Origin hopes to start flying into sub-orbital space as early as next year. Not only did the crew capsule make a clean separation, deploy its parachutes, and land softly in a small cloud of dust back on Earth, but the booster -- which everybody expected to go splat -- continued on its merry way into suborbital space, after which it succeeded in landing smoothly back on Earth for a fifth time. Although Blue Origin has tested its launch escape system on the launchpad before, this is the first time such a system has been tested, by anyone, in flight since the 1960s. It was almost too perfect. You can watch the test here.

53% of DDoS Attacks Result In Additional Compromise, Says Neustar ( 31

Orome1 quotes a report from Help Net Security: DDoS attack volume has remained consistently high and these attacks cause real damage to organizations, according to Neustar. The global response also affirms the prevalent use of DDoS attacks to distract as "smokescreens" in concert with other malicious activities that result in additional compromise, such as viruses and ransomware. The majority of organizations that suffered a DDoS attack (53 percent) also experienced some form of additional compromise. Forty-six percent of breached organizations discovered a virus, malware was activated at 37 percent of breached organizations, and ransomware was encountered at 15 percent of breached organizations. The report adds: "Neustar collected responses from more than 1,000 information security professionals, including CISOs, CSOs and CTOs to determine how DDoS attacks are impacting their organization and how they are mitigating the threat. The overwhelming majority of surveyed organizations (73 percent) suffered a DDoS attack. Eighty-five percent of attacked organizations were attacked more than once and 44 percent were attacked more than five times. Seventy-one percent of organizations took an hour or more to detect a DDoS attack and 72 percent took an additional hour or more to respond to the attack. Forty-nine percent of surveyed organizations would lose $100,000 or more per house of downtime during these attacks. The overwhelming majority of respondents (76 percent) are investing more in DDoS protection than they were a year ago. The majority of respondents (53 percent) are using traditional firewalls, 47 percent are using a cloud service provider and 36 percent are using an on-premise DDoS appliance combined with a DDoS mitigation service (hybrid solution).

Google Unveils Pixel and Pixel XL, the First Phones It 'Designed Inside and Out' ( 197

At an event on Tuesday, Google unveiled the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, the first phones "designed inside and out by Google." Focusing less on the hardware, the company says the biggest selling point of the phones is Google Assistant, which will be available to users wherever they go. Both Pixels have a quad-core 2.15GHz 64-bit processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 128GB of storage, a 12.3MP rear camera, an 8MP front camera, a fingerprint scanner on the back, and a USB-C port on the bottom. The major differences between the two are in size, display (5-inch vs 5.5-inch), and battery (2770mAh vs 3450mAh). The company says the rear camera on both phones is top-notch as well, scoring 89 on DxO, the highest ever for a smartphone. Both phones also come with "endless cloud storage," the company said. It will let users backup unlimited storage in full-resolution images and videos shot with the Pixel. Pricing starts at $649 for the smaller 5-inch Pixel, available for preorder today. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg shares the inside story of how these phones were conceived.

Microsoft Expands Azure Data Centers To France, Launches Trust Offensive vs AWS, Google ( 33

Microsoft announced on Monday that it plans to build its first Azure data center in France this year as part of its $3 billion investment for building cloud services in Europe. The company today also launched a new publication dubbed, Cloud for Global Good with no fewer than 78 public policy recommendations in 15 categories such as data protection and accessibility issues. TechCrunch adds:The new expansion, investment and "trust" initiative were revealed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who was speaking at an event in Dublin, Ireland. He said that the expansion would mean that Microsoft covers "more regions than any other cloud provider... In the last year the capacity has more than doubled." As a measure of how Microsoft and Amazon are intent on levelling each other on service availability right now, the news of the French data center comes one month after Amazon announced that it would also be building a data center in France. Nadella, of course, did not mention AWS by name but that is the big elephant in the room for Microsoft. Nadella said today that Microsoft has data centers covering 30 regions across the globe, "more regions than any other cloud provider," with the European footprint including Ireland, the Netherlands, the UK and Germany.An anonymous reader writes: Satya Nadella, currently on a whirlwind tour of Europe, says that Microsoft has now invested over $3 billion in cloud infrastructure in Europe, and will extend that to governance-friendly French data centers in 2017. The company has also released a new publication calling for 78 policy reviews in 15 sectors of Cloud, including an overhaul of the verbose and opaque way that end-users are required to click legal agreements over data, some of which are specious and others of which are critical: "Because data is now collected and used in so many different ways, people can be overwhelmed if constantly presented with privacy choices and requests to consent to data collection. Requiring express consent in every situation could also make it difficult to understand which situations raise serious privacy implications and which are trivial."

Google Rebrands 'Apps for Work' To 'G Suite,' Adds New Features ( 63

Google has renamed "Apps for Work" to "G Suite" to "help people everywhere work and innovate together, so businesses can move faster and go bigger." They have also added a bunch of new features, such as a "Quick Access" section for Google Drive for Android that uses machine learning to predict what files you're going to need when you open up the app, based off your previous behavior. Calendar will automatically pick times to set up meetings through the use of machine intelligence. Sheets is also using AI "to turn your layman English requests into formulas through its 'Explore' feature," reports The Next Web. "In Slides, Explore uses machine learning to dynamically suggest and apply design ideas, while in Docs, it will suggest backup research and images you can use in your musings, as well as help you insert files from your Drive account. Throughout Docs, Sheets, and Slides, you can now recover deleted files on Android from a new 'Trash' option in the side/hamburger menu." Google's cloud services will now fall under a new "Google Cloud" brand, which includes G Suite, Google Cloud Platform, new machine learning tools and APIs, and Google's various devices that access the cloud. Slashdot reader wjcofkc adds: I just received the following email from Google. When I saw the title, my first thought was that there was malware lying at the end -- further inspection proved it to be real. Is this the dumbest name change in the history of name changes? Google of all companies does not have to try so hard. "Hello Google Apps Customer, We created Google Apps to help people everywhere work and innovate together, so that your organization can move faster and achieve more. Today, we're introducing a new name that better reflects this mission: G Suite. Over the coming weeks, you'll see our new name and logo appear in familiar places, including the Admin console, Help Center, and on your invoice. G Suite is still the same all-in-one solution that you use every day, with the same powerful tools -- Gmail, Docs, Drive, and Calendar. Thanks for being part of the journey that led us to G Suite. We're always improving our technology so it learns and grows with your team. Visit our official blog post to learn more."

Vladimir Putin Is Replacing Microsoft Programs With Domestic Software ( 277

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Moscow city will replace Microsoft Corp. programs with domestic software on thousands of computers in answer to President Vladimir Putin's call for Russia's authorities to reduce dependence on foreign technology amid tensions with the U.S. and Europe. The city will initially replace Microsoft's Exchange Server and Outlook on 6,000 computers with an e-mail system installed by state-run carrier Rostelecom PJSC, Artem Yermolaev, head of information technology for Moscow, told reporters Tuesday. Moscow may expand deployment of the new software, developed by Russia's New Cloud Technologies, to as many as 600,000 computers and servers, and may also consider replacing Windows and Office, Yermolaev said. Putin is urging state entities and local companies to go domestic amid concerns over security and reliability after U.S. firms shut down paid services in Crimea following Russia's 2014 annexation. The plan poses a challenge to the likes of Microsoft, SAP SE and Oracle Corp. in the country's $3 billion software market. Adding to pressure, Putin's internet czar German Klimenko wants to raise taxes on U.S. technology companies to help Russian competitors such as Yandex NV and Group Ltd.

OVH Hosting Suffers From Record 1Tbps DDoS Attack Driven By 150K Devices ( 116

MojoKid writes: If you thought that the massive DDoS attack earlier this month on Brian Krebs' security blog was record-breaking, take a look at what just happened to France-based hosting provider OVH. OVH was the victim of a wide-scale DDoS attack that was carried via a network of over 152,000 IoT devices. According to OVH founder and CTO Octave Klaba, the DDoS attack reached nearly 1 Tbps at its peak. Of those IoT devices participating in the DDoS attack, they were primarily comprised of CCTV cameras and DVRs. Many of these devices have improperly configured network settings, which leaves them ripe for the picking for hackers that would love to use them to carry out destructive attacks.The DDoS peaked at 990 Gbps on September 20th thanks to two concurrent attacks, and according to Klaba, the original botnet was capable of a 1.5 Tbps DDoS attack if each IP topped out at 30 Mbps. This massive DDoS campaign was directed at Minecraft servers that OHV was hosting. Octave Klaba / Oles tweeted: "Last days, we got lot of huge DDoS. Here, the list of 'bigger that 100Gbps' only. You can the simultaneous DDoS are close to 1Tbps!"

Microsoft Partners With Bank of America On Blockchain Trade Finance ( 43

wiredmikey quotes a report from SecurityWeek: Microsoft and Bank of America Merrill Lynch said they are working together to make financial transactions more efficient with blockchain technology -- the foundation of bitcoin digital currency. Blockchains are considered tamper-proof registers in which entries are time-stamped and linked to previous "blocks" in a data chain. As expected, the technology that drives the shadowy bitcoin cryptocurrency is drawing interest from the established banking industry, which sees a potential to revolutionize the sector. The companies said they will build and test frameworks for blockchain-powered exchanges between businesses and their customers and banks. Microsoft plans to use its Azure cloud service platform to enable blockchain transactions between a major corporate treasury and a financial institution. "Blockchains serve as public ledgers considered easy to audit and verify. They are also automated, speeding up transactions and limiting potential for error or revision," the report adds. The companies said that by using blockchain technology, they can digitalize and automate trade finance processes, which are traditionally highly manual, time-consuming and costly.

Plex Cloud Means Saying Goodbye To the Always-On PC ( 173

Finally, you don't need an always-on PC or any other network-attached storage device if you want to use Plex's media player. The company has announced that it now allows you to stream TV shows and movies from your own collection via a new online option called Plex Cloud. From a report on The Verge: Plex is giving the world another reason to subscribe to Plex Pass subscriptions today with the launch of Plex Cloud. As the name suggests, Plex Cloud eliminates the need to run the Plex Media Server on a computer or Networked Attached Storage (NAS) in your house. It does, however, require a subscription to Amazon Drive ($59.99 per year for unlimited storage) and the aforementioned Plex Pass ($4.99 per month or $39.99 per year). Plex Cloud functions just like a regular Plex Media Server giving you access to your media -- no matter how you acquire it -- from an incredibly broad range of devices. Most, but not all Plex features are available in today's beta.

Adobe To Run Some Of Its Creative Cloud Services On Azure ( 17

Adobe will offer its Adobe Creative Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Document Cloud hosted on Microsoft's Azure, the company said today, as part of a deal with Microsoft. ZDNet adds: Some of Adobe's subscription services for creative professionals currently are hosted on Amazon's AWS. It's not clear from Microsoft's announcement of its new Adobe deal whether Adobe's Creative Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Document Cloud will run on any other cloud backbones, with Azure as a secondary option or choice. I've asked Microsoft, and heard back from a spokesperson that today's deal is not exclusive, but that's all I know at this point. Work is underway to move these services to the Azure cloud, a spokesperson confirmed, with more information on this coming in the next few months.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Who's Building The Open Source Version of Siri? ( 186

We're moving to a world of voice interactions processed by AI. Now Long-time Slashdot reader jernst asks, "Will we ever be able to do that without going through somebody's proprietary silo like Amazon's or Apple's?" A decade ago, we in the free and open-source community could build our own versions of pretty much any proprietary software system out there, and we did... But is this still true...? Where are the free and/or open-source versions of Siri, Alexa and so forth?

The trouble, of course, is not so much the code, but in the training. The best speech recognition code isn't going to be competitive unless it has been trained with about as many millions of hours of example speech as the closed engines from Apple, Google and so forth have been. How can we do that? The same problem exists with AI. There's plenty of open-source AI code, but how good is it unless it gets training and retraining with gigantic data sets?

And even with that data, Siri gets trained with a massive farm of GPUs running 24/7 -- but how can the open source community replicate that? "Who has a plan, and where can I sign up to it?" asks jernst. So leave your best answers in the comments. Who's building the open source version of Siri?

A New Programming Language Expands on Google's Go ( 173

"One sure sign your language is successful: When people build other languages that transpile into it." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from InfoWorld: The Have project uses Go's toolchain, but sports a different syntax and makes key additions to the language... Previously, a language named Oden worked with Go's toolchain to add features that Go didn't support. Now Polish developer Marcin Wrochniak has introduced Have, a language that transpiles to and expands on Go.

In the blog post that introduces the project to Go developers, Wrochniak describes Have as a hobby project, with the goal of becoming a "companion" to Go that addresses some of its common "landmines"... Go uses curly braces in the manner of C/C++, while Have uses block indents, like Python... The way that variable declaration, structs, and interfaces work have all been modified in Have to be more consistent with each other and to avoid internal inconsistencies that Wrochniak feels are a common source of bugs.

The Almighty Buck

Accenture Patents a Blockchain-Editing Tool ( 87

A blockchain "produces a permanent ledger of transactions with which no one can tamper," reports TechWeekEurope. "Until now." Slashdot reader Mickeycaskill quotes their report: One of the core principles of Blockchain technology has potentially been undermined by the creation of an editing tool. The company responsible however, Accenture, says edits would only be carried out "under extraordinary circumstances to resolve human errors, accommodate legal and regulatory requirements, and address mischief and other issues, while preserving key cryptographic features..."

Accenture's move to create an editing system will no doubt be viewed by some technology observers as a betrayal of what blockchain technology is all about. But the company insisted it is needed, especially in the financial services industry... "The prototype represents a significant breakthrough for enterprise uses of blockchain technology particularly in banking, insurance and capital markets," said Accenture.

They're envisioning "permissioned" blockchain systems, "managed by designated administrators under agreed governance rules," while acknowledging that cyptocurrency remains a different environment where "immutable" record-keeping would still be essential.

40 Percent of Organizations Store Admin Passwords In Word Documents, Says Survey ( 116

While the IT industry is making progress in securing information and communications systems from cyberattacks, a new survey from cybersecurity company CyberArk says several critical areas, such as privileged account security, third-party vendor access and cloud platforms are undermining them. An anonymous Slashdot reader shares with us the details of the report via eSecurity Planet: According to the results of a recent survey of 750 IT security decision makers worldwide, 40 percent of organizations store privileged and administrative passwords in a Word document or spreadsheet, while 28 percent use a shared server or USB stick. Still, the survey, sponsored by CyberArk and conducted by Vanson Bourne, also found that 55 percent of respondents said they have evolved processes for managing privileged accounts. Fully 79 percent of respondents said they have learned lessons from major cyberattacks and have taken appropriate action to improve security. Sixty-seven percent now believe their CEO and board of directors provide sound cybersecurity leadership, up from 57 percent in 2015. Three out of four IT decision makers now believe they can prevent attackers from breaking into their internal network, a huge increase from 44 percent in 2015 -- and 82 percent believe the security industry in general is making progress against cyberattackers. Still, 36 percent believe a cyberattacker is currently on their network or has been within the past 12 months, and 46 percent believe their organization was a victim of a ransomware attack over the past two years. And while 95 percent of organizations now have a cybersecurity emergency response plan, only 45 percent communicate and regularly test that plan with all IT staff. Sixty-eight percent of organizations cite losing customer data as one of their biggest concerns following a cyberattack, and 57 percent of organizations that store information in the cloud are not completely confident in their cloud provider's ability to protect their data.

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