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LA To Become First In US To Install Subway Body Scanners

Los Angeles officials announced Tuesday that the city's subway will become the first mass transit system in the U.S. to install body scanners that screen passengers for weapons and explosives. "The deployment of the portable scanners, which project waves to do full-body screenings of passengers walking through a station without slowing them down, will happen in the coming months, said Alex Wiggins, who runs the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's law enforcement division," reports the Associated Press reports: The machines scan for metallic and non-metallic objects on a person's body, can detect suspicious items from 30 feet (9 meters) away and have the capability of scanning more than 2,000 passengers per hour. On Tuesday, Pekoske and other officials demonstrated the new machines, which are being purchased from Thruvision, which is headquartered in the United Kingdom. In addition to the Thruvision scanners, the agency is also planning to purchase other body scanners -- which resemble white television cameras on tripods -- that have the ability to move around and hone in on specific people and angles, Wiggins said. Signs will be posted at stations warning passengers they are subject to body scanner screening. The screening process is voluntary, Wiggins said, but customers who choose not be screened won't be able to ride on the subway.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 12:45 pm

A Community-Run ISP Is the Highest Rated Broadband Company In America

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: A new survey by Consumer Reports once again highlights how consumers are responding positively to [community-run broadband networks]. The organization surveyed 176,000 Consumer Reports readers on their experience with their pay TV and broadband providers, and found that the lion's share of Americans remain completely disgusted with most large, incumbent operators. The full ratings are paywalled but available here to those with a Consumer Reports subscription. All the usual suspects including Comcast, Charter (Spectrum), AT&T, Verizon, and Optimum once again fell toward the bottom of the barrel in terms of overall satisfaction, reliability, and value, largely mirroring similar studies from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. One of the lone bright spots for broadband providers was Chattanooga's EPB, a city-owned and utility operated broadband provider we profiled several years back as an example of community broadband done well. The outfit, which Comcast attempted unsuccessfully to sue into oblivion, was the only ISP included in the study that received positive ratings for value. "EPB was the top internet service provider in our telecom ratings two times in the past three years," Christopher Raymond, electronics editor at Consumer Reports told Motherboard. "Consumer Reports members have given it high marks for not only reliability and speed, but also overall value -- and that's a rare distinction in an arena dominated by the major cable companies," he said.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 12:03 pm

California Officials Admit To Using License Plate Readers To Monitor Welfare Recipients

According to a report from the Sacramento Bee, officials in Sacramento County have been accessing license plate reader data to track welfare recipients suspected of fraud. The practice dates back to 2016. Gizmodo reports: Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance Director Ann Edwards confirmed to the paper that welfare fraud investigators working under the DHA have used the data for two years on a "case-by-case" basis. Edwards said the DHA pays about $5,000 annually for access to the database. Abbreviated LPR, license plate readers are essentially cameras that upload photographs to a searchable database of images of license plates. If a driver passed by an LPR four times throughout a city, an officer with access would know where and at what time of day. Anyone with access to that data could use it track where someone drove and when, provided they were scanned by the LPR. It's not immediately clear how travel patterns might reveal welfare fraud. As noted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, welfare fraud is statistically speaking, extremely rare. In 2012, the DHA found only 500 cases of fraud among Sacramento's 193,000 recipients. Following an inquiry from the EFF, the DHA has instituted a privacy policy (one that didn't exist before their initial inquiry) requiring investigators to justify each request for LPR data. The Sacramento Bee reports the DHA accessed the data over a thousand times in two years.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 11:20 am

Slashdot Asks: Did You Have a Shared Family Computer Growing Up?

theodp writes: "Long before phone addiction panic gripped the masses and before screen time became a facet of our wellness and digital detoxes," begins Katie Reid's article, How the Shared Family Computer Protected Us from Our Worst Selves, "there was one good and wise piece of technology that served our families. Maybe it was in the family room or in the kitchen. It could have been a Mac or PC. Chances are it had a totally mesmerizing screensaver. It was the shared family desktop." She continues: "I can still see the Dell I grew up using as clear as day, like I just connected to NetZero yesterday. It sat in my eldest sister's room, which was just off the kitchen. Depending on when you peeked into the room, you might have found my dad playing Solitaire, my sister downloading songs from Napster, or me playing Wheel of Fortune or writing my name in Microsoft Paint. The rules for using the family desktop were pretty simple: homework trumped games; Dad trumped all. Like the other shared equipment in our house, its usefulness was focused and direct: it was a tool that the whole family used, and it was our portal to the wild, weird, wonderful internet. As such, we adored it." Did you have a shared family computer growing up? Can you relate to any of the experiences Katie mentioned in her article? Please share your thoughts in a comment below.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 10:40 am

Tinder Founders Sue Dating App's Owners For At Least $2 Billion

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: A group of Tinder founders and executives has filed a lawsuit against parent company Match Group and its controlling shareholder IAC. The plaintiffs in the suit include Tinder co-founders Sean Rad, Justin Mateen and Jonathan Badeen -- Badeen still works at Tinder, as do plaintiffs James Kim (the company's vice president of finance) and Rosette Pambakian (its vice president of marketing and communications). The suit alleges that IAC and Match Group manipulated financial data in order to create "a fake lowball valuation" (to quote the plaintiffs' press release), then stripped Rad, Mateen, Badeen and others of their stock options. It points to the removal of Rad as CEO, as well as other management changes, as moves designed "to allow Defendants to control the valuation of Tinder and deprive Tinder optionholders of their right to participate in the company's future success." The lawsuit also alleges that Greg Blatt, the Match CEO who became CEO of Tinder, groped and sexually harassed Pambakian at the company's 2016 holiday party, supposedly leading the company to "whitewash" his actions long enough for him to complete the valuation of Tinder and its merger with Match Group, and then to announce his departure. In response, the plaintiffs are asking for "compensatory damages in an amount to be determined at trial, but not less than $2,000,000,000." IAC and Match Group issued a statement denying the allegations: "...Match Group and the plaintiffs went through a rigorous, contractually-defined valuation process involving two independent global investment banks, and Mr. Rad and his merry band of plaintiffs did not like the outcome. Mr. Rad (who was dismissed from the Company a year ago) and Mr. Mateen (who has not been with the Company in years) may not like the fact that Tinder has experienced enormous success following their respective departures, but sour grapes alone do not a lawsuit make. Mr. Rad has a rich history of outlandish public statements, and this lawsuit contains just another series of them. We look forward to defending our position in court."

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 10:00 am

Vaping Can Damage Vital Immune System Cells, Researchers Find

Vaping can damage vital immune system cells and may be more harmful than previously thought, a study suggests. Researchers found e-cigarette vapour disabled important immune cells in the lung and boosted inflammation. From a report: The researchers "caution against the widely held opinion that e-cigarettes are safe." However, Public Health England advises they are much less harmful than smoking and people should not hesitate to use them as an aid to giving up cigarettes. The small experimental study, led by Prof David Thickett, at the University of Birmingham, is published online in the journal Thorax. Previous studies have focused on the chemical composition of e-cigarette liquid before it is vaped. In this study, the researchers devised a mechanical procedure to mimic vaping in the laboratory, using lung tissue samples provided by eight non-smokers. They found vapour caused inflammation and impaired the activity of alveolar macrophages, cells that remove potentially damaging dust particles, bacteria and allergens.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 9:20 am

Mathematicians Solve Age-Old Spaghetti Mystery

If you happen to have a box of spaghetti in your pantry, try this experiment: Pull out a single spaghetti stick and hold it at both ends. Now bend it until it breaks. How many fragments did you make? If the answer is three or more, pull out another stick and try again. Can you break the noodle in two? If not, you're in very good company. From a report: The spaghetti challenge has flummoxed even the likes of famed physicist Richard Feynman '39, who once spent a good portion of an evening breaking pasta and looking for a theoretical explanation for why the sticks refused to snap in two. Feynman's kitchen experiment remained unresolved until 2005, when physicists from France pieced together a theory to describe the forces at work when spaghetti -- and any long, thin rod -- is bent. They found that when a stick is bent evenly from both ends, it will break near the center, where it is most curved. This initial break triggers a "snap-back" effect and a bending wave, or vibration, that further fractures the stick. Their theory, which won the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize, seemed to solve Feynman's puzzle. But a question remained: Could spaghetti ever be coerced to break in two? The answer, according to a new MIT study, is yes -- with a twist. In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report that they have found a way to break spaghetti in two, by both bending and twisting the dry noodles. They carried out experiments with hundreds of spaghetti sticks, bending and twisting them with an apparatus they built specifically for the task. The team found that if a stick is twisted past a certain critical degree, then slowly bent in half, it will, against all odds, break in two. The researchers say the results may have applications beyond culinary curiosities, such as enhancing the understanding of crack formation and how to control fractures in other rod-like materials such as multifiber structures, engineered nanotubes, or even microtubules in cells.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 8:40 am

Intel Discloses Three More Chip Flaws

Intel on Tuesday disclosed three more possible flaws in some of its microprocessors that can be exploited to gain access to certain data from computer memory. From a report: Its commonly used Core and Xeon processors were among the products that were affected, the company said. "We are not aware of reports that any of these methods have been used in real-world exploits, but this further underscores the need for everyone to adhere to security best practices," the company said in a blog post. Intel also released updates to address the issue and said new updates coupled those released earlier in the year will reduce the risk for users, including personal computer clients and data centres. In January, the company came under scrutiny after security researchers disclosed flaws that they said could let hackers steal sensitive information from nearly every modern computing device containing chips from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and ARM.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 8:00 am

Putting Stickers On Your Laptop is Probably a Bad Security Idea

From border crossings to hacking conferences, that Bitcoin or political sticker may be worth leaving on a case at home. From a report: Plenty of hackers, journalists, and technologists love to cover their laptop in all manner of stickers. Maybe one shows off their employer, another flaunts that local cryptoparty they attended, or others may display the laptop owner's interest in Bitcoin. That's all well and good, but a laptop lid full of stickers also arguably provides something of a red flag to authorities or hackers who may want to access sensitive information stored on that computer, or otherwise cause the owner hassle. "Conferences, border crossing[s], airports, public places -- stickers will/can get you targeted for opposition research, industrial espionage, legal or investigative scrutiny," Matt Mitchell, director of digital safety and privacy for technology and activism group Tactical Tech, told Motherboard in an online chat. Mitchell said political stickers, for instance, can land you in secondary search or result in being detained while crossing a border. In one case, Mitchell said a hacker friend ended up missing a flight over stickers.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 7:20 am

Hackers Can Falsify Patient Vitals

Hackers can falsify patients' vitals by emulating data sent from medical equipment clients to central monitoring systems, a McAfee security researcher revealed over the weekend at the DEF CON 26 security conference. BleepingComputer: The research, available here, takes advantage of a weak communications protocol used by some patient monitoring equipment to send data to a central monitoring station. McAfee security researcher Douglas McKee says he was able to reverse engineer this protocol, create a device that emulates patients vitals, and send incorrect information to a central monitoring station. This attack required physical access to the patient, as the attacker needed to disconnect the patient monitoring client and replace it with his own device that feeds incorrect patient vitals to the central station monitored by medical professionals. But McKee also devised another method of feeding central monitoring stations without needing to disconnect the patient monitoring client.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 6:40 am

Built-in Lazy Loading Lands in Google Chrome Canary

secwatcher writes: Google has started rolling out support for built-in lazy loading inside Chrome. Currently, support for image and iframe lazy loading is only available in Chrome Canary, the Chrome version that Google uses to test new features. Two flags are now available in the chrome://flags section of Chrome Canary. They are: chrome://flags/#enable-lazy-image-loading, chrome://flags/#enable-lazy-frame-loading. Enabling these two flags will activate a new type of content loading behavior inside the Chrome browser. The two flags have been available in Chrome Canary for a few days, since v70.0.3521.0.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 6:00 am

Hundreds of Instagram Users Say Their Accounts Have Been Compromised By What Appears To Be a Coordinated Attack

A number of people have reported having their Instagram accounts hacked this month, Mashable reports, and many of these hacks appear to have taken the same approach. From a report: Users suddenly find themselves logged out of their accounts and when they try to log back in, they discover that their handle, profile image, contact info and bios have all been changed. Often the profile image has been changed to a Disney or Pixar character and the email address connected to the account is changed to one with a .ru Russian domain, according to Mashable. Some even had their two-factor authentication turned off by hackers. A handful of Instagram users reported the same details to Mashable as have hundreds of others who have taken to Twitter and Reddit to report hacks of their accounts.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 5:20 am

Fewer Than Half of Young Americans Are Positive About Capitalism

gollum123 writes: According to a new poll from Gallup, young Americans are souring on capitalism. Less than half, 45 percent, view capitalism positively. "This represents a 12-point decline in young adults' positive views of capitalism in just the past two years and a marked shift since 2010, when 68 percent viewed it positively," notes Gallup, which defines young Americans as those aged 18 to 29. Meanwhile, 51 percent of young people are positive about socialism. This age group's "views of socialism have fluctuated somewhat from year to year," reports Gallup, "but the 51 percent with a positive view today is the same as in 2010."

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 4:40 am

Banks and Retailers Are Tracking How You Type, Swipe and Tap

When you're browsing a website and the mouse cursor disappears, it might be a computer glitch -- or it might be a deliberate test to find out who you are. The way you press, scroll and type on a phone screen or keyboard can be as unique as your fingerprints or facial features. To fight fraud, a growing number of banks and merchants are tracking visitors' physical movements as they use websites and apps. From a report: Some use the technology only to weed out automated attacks and suspicious transactions, but others are going significantly further, amassing tens of millions of profiles that can identify customers by how they touch, hold and tap their devices. The data collection is invisible to those being watched. Using sensors in your phone or code on websites, companies can gather thousands of data points, known as "behavioral biometrics," to help prove whether a digital user is actually the person she claims to be. To security officials, the technology is a powerful safeguard. Major data breaches are a near-daily occurrence. Cyberthieves have obtained billions of passwords and other sensitive personal information, which can be used to steal from customers' bank and shopping accounts and fraudulently open new ones.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 4:00 am

Hundreds of Researchers From Harvard, Yale and Stanford Were Published in Fake Academic Journals

In the so-called "post-truth era," science seems like one of the last bastions of objective knowledge, but what if science itself were to succumb to fake news? From a report: Over the past year, German journalist Svea Eckert and a small team of journalists went undercover to investigate a massive underground network of fake science journals and conferences. In the course of the investigation, which was chronicled in the documentary "Inside the Fake Science Factory," the team analyzed over 175,000 articles published in predatory journals and found hundreds of papers from academics at leading institutions, as well as substantial amounts of research pushed by pharmaceutical corporations, tobacco companies, and others. Last year, one fake science institution run by a Turkish family was estimated to have earned over $4 million in revenue through conferences and journals. Eckert's story begins with the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology (WASET), an organization based in Turkey. At first glance, WASET seems to be a legitimate organization. Its website lists thousands of conferences around the world in pretty much every conceivable academic discipline, with dates scheduled all the way out to 2031. It has also published over ten thousand papers in an "open science, peer reviewed, interdisciplinary, monthly and fully referred [sic] international research journal" that covers everything from aerospace engineering to nutrition. To any scientist familiar with the peer review process, however, WASET's site has a number of red flags, such as spelling errors and the sheer scope of the disciplines it publishes.

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 3:20 am