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Bitcoin

EU Plans To Create Database of Bitcoin Users With Identities and Wallet Addresses (softpedia.com) 41

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: "The European Commission is proposing the creation of a database that will hold information on users of virtual currencies," reports Softpedia. "The database will record data on the user's real world identity, along with all associated wallet addresses." The database will be made available to financial investigation agencies in order to track down users behind suspicious operations. The creation of this database is part of a regulatory push that the EU got rolling after the Paris November 2015 terror attacks, and which it officially put forward in February 2016, and later approved at the start of July 2016. Legally, this is an attempt to reform the Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD). The current draft is available here. The current AMLD draft reads: "The report shall be accompanied, if necessary, by appropriate proposals, including, where appropriate, with respect to virtual currencies, empowerments to set-up and maintain a central database registering users' identities and wallet addresses accessible to FIUs, as well as self-declaration forms for the use of virtual currency users."
Security

'DNC Hacker' Unmasked: He Really Works for Russia, Researchers Say (thedailybeast.com) 525

The hacker who claimed to compromise the DNC swore he was Romanian, but new investigation shows he worked directly for Russia President Vladimir Putin's government in Moscow. The Daily Beast reports: The hacker who claims to have stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and provided them to WikiLeaks is actually an agent of the Russian government and part of an orchestrated attempt to influence U.S. media coverage surrounding the presidential election, a security research group concluded on Tuesday. The researchers, at Arlington, Va.-based ThreatConnect, traced the self-described Romanian hacker Guccifer 2.0 back to an Internet server in Russia and to a digital address that has been linked in the past to Russian online scams. Far from being a single, sophisticated hacker, Guccifer 2.0 is more likely a collection of people from the propaganda arm of the Russian government meant to deflect attention away from Moscow as the force behind the DNC hacks and leaks of emails, the researchers found. ThreatConnect is the first known group of experts to link the self-proclaimed hacker to a Russian operation, amidst an ongoing FBI investigation and a presidential campaign rocked by the release of DNC emails that have embarrassed senior party leaders and inflamed intraparty tensions turning the Democratic National Convention. The emails revealed that party insiders plotted ways to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential bid. The researchers at the aforementioned security firm are basing their conclusion on three signals: the hacker used Russian computers to edit PDF files, he also used Russian VPN -- and other internet infrastructure from the country, and that he was unable to speak Romanian.
Communications

NIST Prepares To Ban SMS-Based Two-Factor Authentication (softpedia.com) 145

An anonymous reader writes: "The U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has released the latest draft version of the Digital Authentication Guideline that contains language hinting at a future ban of SMS-based Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)," reports Softpedia. The NIST DAG draft argues that SMS-based two-factor authentication is an insecure process because the phone may not always be in possession of the phone number, and because in the case of VoIP connections, SMS messages may be intercepted and not delivered to the phone. The guideline recommends the usage of tokens and software cryptographic authenticators instead. Even biometrics authentication is considered safe, under one condition: "Biometrics SHALL be used with another authentication factor (something you know or something you have)," the guideline's draft reads. The NIST DAG draft reads in part: "If the out of band verification is to be made using a SMS message on a public mobile telephone network, the verifier SHALL verify that the pre-registered telephone number being used is actually associated with a mobile network and not with a VoIP (or other software-based) service. It then sends the SMS message to the pre-registered telephone number. Changing the pre-registered telephone number SHALL NOT be possible without two-factor authentication at the time of the change. OOB using SMS is deprecated, and will no longer be allowed in future releases of this guidance."
Transportation

Amazon Partners With UK Government To Test Drone Deliveries (usatoday.com) 42

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: [Recent rules from the Federal Aviation Administration mean delivery by drone is years away in the United States, but packages may be winging their way to customers sooner rather than later in the United Kingdom, where Amazon just got permission to begin a new trial of its delivery drones.] The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority gave Amazon permission to test several key drone delivery parameters. They include sending drones beyond the line of sight of their operator in rural and suburban areas, testing sensor performance to make sure the drones can identify and avoid obstacles and allowing a single operator to manage multiple highly-automated drones. U.S. rules are outlined in a 624-page rulebook from the Federal Aviation Administration. They allow commercial drones weighing up to 55 pounds to fly during daylight hours. The aircraft must remain within sight of the operator or an observer who is in communication with the operator. The operators must be pass an aeronautics test every 24 months for a certificate as well as a background check by the Transportation Security Administration. The rules govern commercial flights, such as for aerial photography or utilities inspection. Amazon's goal is to use drones to deliver packages up to 5 pound to customers in 30 minutes or less. Amazon released a statement today detailing its partnership with the UK Government that may one day turn its Prime Air drone delivery service into reality.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Not Money, Rules Miami Judge In Dismissing Laundering Charges (miamiherald.com) 142

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Miami Herald: Bitcoin does not actually qualify as money, a Miami-Dade judge ruled Monday in throwing out criminal charges against a Miami Beach man charged with illegally selling the virtual currency. The defendant, Michell Espinoza, was charged with illegally selling and laundering $1,500 worth of Bitcoins to undercover detectives who told him they wanted to use the money to buy stolen credit-card numbers. But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler ruled that Bitcoin was not backed by any government or bank, and was not "tangible wealth" and "cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars." "The court is not an expert in economics, however, it is very clear, even to someone with limited knowledge in the area, the Bitcoin has a long way to go before it the equivalent of money," Pooler wrote in an eight-page order. The judge also wrote that Florida law -- which says someone can be charged with money laundering if they engage in a financial transaction that will "promote" illegal activity -- is way too vague to apply to Bitcoin. "This court is unwilling to punish a man for selling his property to another, when his actions fall under a statute that is so vaguely written that even legal professionals have difficulty finding a singular meaning," she wrote. Espinoza's case is believed to be the first money-laundering prosecution involving Bitcoin.
Censorship

Facebook Admits Blocking WikiLeaks' DNC Email Links, But Won't Say Why (thenextweb.com) 265

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has admitted it blocked links to WikiLeaks' DNC email dump, but the company has yet to explain why. WikiLeaks has responded to the censorship via Twitter, writing: "For those facing censorship on Facebook etc when trying to post links directly to WikiLeaks #DNCLeak try using archive.is." When SwiftOnSecurity tweeted, "Facebook has an automated system for detecting spam/malicious links, that sometimes have false positives. /cc," Facebook's Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos replied with, "It's been fixed." As for why there was a problem in the first place, we don't know. Nate Swanner from The Next Web writes, "It's possible its algorithm incorrectly identified them as malicious, but it's another negative mark on the company's record nonetheless. WikiLeaks is a known entity, not some torrent dumping ground. The WikiLeaks link issue has reportedly been fixed, which is great -- but also not really the point. The fact links to the archive was blocked at all suggests there's a very tight reign on what's allowed on Facebook across the board, and that's a problem." A Facebook representative provided a statement to Gizmodo: "Like other services, our anti-spam systems briefly flagged links to these documents as unsafe. We quickly corrected this error on Saturday evening."
China

China Bans Internet News Reporting As Media Crackdown Widens (bloomberg.com) 66

Earlier this month we learned that China had banned the use of social media as a news source. The local government feared that if news outlets were to report using signals coming from social media, there was a chance that fake, non-credible, and rumors would slip through the filter. It was absurd, to say the least, considering the government itself has been reportedly caught of posting a copious amount of misleading information on domestic social media platforms. In the latest wrinkle to the whole situation, the world's largest nation is now banning internet news reporting. Long time reader schwit1 shares a Bloomberg report on the same: China's top internet regulator ordered major online companies including Sina Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. to stop original news reporting, the latest effort by the government to tighten its grip over the country's web and information industries. The Cyberspace Administration of China imposed the ban on several major news portals, including Sohu.com Inc. and NetEase Inc., Chinese media reported in identically worded articles citing an unidentified official from the agency's Beijing office. The companies have "seriously violated" internet regulations by carrying plenty of news content obtained through original reporting, causing "huge negative effects," according to a report that appeared in The Paper on Sunday. The agency instructed the operators of mobile and online news services to dismantle "current-affairs news" operations on Friday, after earlier calling a halt to such activity at Tencent, according to people familiar with the situation. Like its peers, Asia's largest internet company had developed a news operation and grown its team. Henceforth, they and other services can only carry reports provided by government-controlled print or online media, the people said, asking not to be identified because the issue is politically sensitive.
Yahoo!

Once Valued at $125B, Yahoo's Web Assets To Be Sold To Verizon For $4.83B, Companies Confirm 204

The reports were spot on. Verizon Communications on Monday announced that it plans to purchase Yahoo's Web assets for a sum of $4.83 billion in cash. The multi-billion dollars deal will get Verizon Yahoo's core internet business and some real estate. The announcement also marks a remarkable fall for the Silicon Valley web pioneer, which once had a market capitalization of more than $125 billion. For Verizon, the deal adds another piece to the mammoth digital media and advertising empire it owns. The deal is expected to close early 2017. CNBC reports: The transaction is seen boosting Verizon's AOL internet business, which the company acquired last year for $4.4 billion, by giving it access to Yahoo's advertising technology tools, as well as other assets such as search, mail, messenger and real estate. It also marks the end of Yahoo as an operating company, leaving it only as the owner of a 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, as well as its 15 percent interest in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. In December, Yahoo scrapped plans to spin off its Alibaba stake after investors worried about whether that transaction could have been carried out on a tax-free basis. It instead decided to explore a sale of its core assets, spurred on by activist hedge fund Starboard Value. Forbes has called it one of the "saddest $5B deals in tech history."Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who was expected to leave -- or get fired -- said she intends to stay. "For me personally, I'm planning to stay," Mayer said in a note on Yahoo's Tumblr page. "I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It's important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter."
Privacy

Glassdoor Exposes 600,000 Email Addresses (siliconbeat.com) 94

A web site where users anonymously review their employer has exposed the e-mail addresses -- and in some cases the names -- of hundreds of thousands of users. An anonymous reader quotes an article from Silicon Beat: On Friday, the company sent out an email announcing that it had changed its terms of service. Instead of blindly copying email recipients on the message, the company pasted their addresses in the clear. Each message recipient was able to see the email addresses of 999 other Glassdoor users...

Ultimately, the messages exposed the addresses of more than 2 percent of the company's users... Last month, the company said it had some 30 million monthly active users, meaning that more than 600,000 were affected by the exposure... Although the company didn't directly disclose the names of its users, many of their names could be intuited from their email addresses. Some appeared to be in the format of "first name.last name" or "first initial plus last name."

A Glassdoor spokesperson said "We are extremely sorry for this error. We take the privacy of our users very seriously and we know this is not what is expected of us. It certainly isn't how we intend to operate."
Advertising

Google Tests Ads That Load Faster and Use Less Power (bbc.co.uk) 117

Slashdot reader Big Hairy Ian quotes a report from the BBC: Google says it has found a way to make ads load faster on web pages viewed on smartphones and tablets. The company said the ads would also be less taxing on the handsets' processors, meaning their batteries should last longer. The technique is based on work it has already done to make news publishers' articles load more quickly. But it is still in development, and one expert said Google still had questions to answer. The California-based company's online advertising revenue totalled $67.4 billion last year...
The technique limits the scope of JavaScript, and "provides its own activity measurement tools, which are said to be much more efficient," according to article. A Google software engineer explains that this technique "only animates things that are visible on the screen," and throttles animation to fewer frames per second for weaker devices -- or disables the animations altogether. "This ensures that every device gets the best experience it can deliver and makes sure that ads cannot have a negative impact on important aspects of the user experience such as scrolling."
Republicans

Avast Suckers GOP Delegates Into Connecting To Insecure Wi-Fi Hotspots (theregister.co.uk) 109

Avast conned more than 1,200 people into connecting to fake wi-fi hotspots set up near the Republican convention and the Cleveland airport, using common network names like "Google Starbucks" and "Xfinitywifi" as well as "I vote Trump! free Internet". An anonymous reader quotes this report from The Register: With mobile devices often set to connect to known SSIDs automatically, users can overlook the networks to which they are connecting... Some 68.3 percent of users' identities were exposed when they connected, and 44.5 per cent of Wi-Fi users checked their emails or chatted via messenger apps... In its day-long experiment Avast saw more than 1.6Gbps transferred from more than 1,200 users.
Avast didn't store the data they collected, but they did report statistics on which sites were accessed most frequently. "5.1 percent played Pokemon Go, while 0.7 percent used dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, OKCupid, Match and Meetup, and 0.24 percent visited pornography sites like Pornhub."
Communications

Tinder Scam Promises Account Verification, But Actually Sells Porn (csoonline.com) 29

itwbennett writes: Tinder users should be on the lookout for Tinder profiles asking them to get "verified" and then sending them a link to a site called "Tinder Safe Dating." The service asks for credit card information, saying this will verify the user's age. Once payment information has been captured, the user is then signed up for a free trial of porn, which will end up costing $118.76 per month unless the service is cancelled. In Tinder's safety guidelines, the company warns users to avoid messages that contain links to third-party websites or ask money for an address.
Businesses

Comcast To Offer Pay-As-You-Go TV, Broadband Service (dslreports.com) 43

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Comcast plans to roll-out prepaid cable TV and internet services later this year in portions of Illinois and four other states. According to a company announcement, Comcast's Xfinity Prepaid Services lets users sign up for TV or internet services and renew service for seven or 30 days at a time -- instead of paying by the month. A one-time setup fee of $80 includes equipment and 30 days of service, with users paying $15 for an additional seven days and $45 for an additional 30 days. "We want to create an easy, pay-as-you-go option for people who want more flexibility and predictability when buying our services," said Marcien Jenckes, Executive Vice President, Consumer Services, Comcast Cable. "And our partnership with Boost Mobile will give Xfinity Prepaid customers even more places where they can conveniently sign-up and pay-as-they-go."
Government

Edward Snowden At Comic-Con: 'I Live a Surprisingly Free Life' (theguardian.com) 52

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Guardian: Director Oliver Stone talked to whistleblower Edward Snowden in front of an audience at a question and answer session on Thursday evening. He compared Snowden's anxiety over his own appearance in his Snowden biopic film "Snowden" to that of Donald Trump, who was cut from one of his films six years before. Snowden replied: "I'd like to avoid that association." At the event, Snowden did also shed some light on his personal life, years after his revelation of the NSA's secret surveillance of the American public's internet activity resulted in criminal charges under the Espionage Act that led to his exile in Russia. "I can confirm that I am not living in a box," Snowden said. "I actually live a surprisingly free life. This was not the most likely outcome. I didn't actually expect to make it out of Hawaii. I thought it was incredibly risky. I had a lot of advantages in doing what I did; I worked for the CIA on the human intelligence side, I worked for the NSA on the signals intelligence side, and I taught counterintelligence. This is not something that's covered that well in the media. I was about as well placed as anybody could be, and I still thought I was going to get rolled up at the airport and that there were going to be knocks on the doors of the journalists." When asked what he thought about Gordon-Levitt's performance in the film where he plays Edward Snowden, Snowden responded: "This is one of the things that's kind of crazy and surreal about this kind of experience: I don't think anybody looks forward to having a movie made about themselves, especially someone who is a privacy advocate. Some of my family members have said, 'He sounds just like you!' I can't hear it myself but if he can pass the family test he's doing all right." Snowden agreed to participate on the film because he thought it could raise awareness in ways his own advocacy could not. Snowden was also in the news recently for developing a way for potentially imperiled smartphone users to monitor whether their devices are making any potentially compromising radio transmissions.
Businesses

MasterCard Is Buying the Core of the British Payments Infrastructure (fortune.com) 27

Mastercard has agreed to purchase a controlling stake in VocalLink, the payments processor that handles most payroll and household bill processing in the UK. The American payment giant will be paying up to $1.14 billion. Fortune reports: According to MasterCard MA, the deal would create "the first true combination of the traditional person-to-merchant cards business with a clearing business." That is, of course, presuming it clears regulatory scrutiny. VocaLink runs Link, the network that provides interoperability between British ATMs, as well as BACS, the clearing house for payments between bank accounts, and Faster Payments, the inter-bank transfer system for Internet and telephone-based payments.FastCompany explains what this could mean for MasterCard users.
Businesses

Google Fiber Reminds People It's a 'Real Business' (dslreports.com) 104

An anonymous reader writes: While Google Fiber gets a massive amount of media hype (justly based on its disruptive speed and price point), the reality is that despite numerous city "launches" -- not that many people can actually get the service. But while many ISPs and analysts have dismissed Google Fiber as an adorable experiment that will never impact them, many of these folks have been forced to changing their tune as Google Fiber's list of planned launch cities grows larger. In a profile piece over at USAToday, the company once again notes that while Google Fiber may have begun as a PR exercise, it's now dead serious about being a large, nationwide disruptive kick in the ass for incumbent broadband providers. "It is indeed a real business, and it's serving to increase competition as well, and that's something that we don't mind," Google Fiber boss and former Qualcomm exec Dennis Kish tells the paper. "We think it's healthy for the market and for consumers."
Yahoo!

Verizon Nears Deal to Acquire Yahoo (bloomberg.com) 70

Verizon Communications is nearing a deal to buy Yahoo, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. While nothing is official yet, the publication claims that Verizon is discussing a price close to $5 billion for Yahoo's core Internet business. The report adds that Yahoo's patents are not part of the discussion, and it's unclear whether the two companies are considering Yahoo's real estate. "The companies may be ready to announce the deal in the coming days, the people said," the report adds. Interestingly, CNBC, citing its own sources, is independently reporting the same thing.
Communications

McDonald's 'Make Burger History' Site Hijacked With Offensive Burger Ideas (stuff.co.nz) 188

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Stuff.co.nz: McDonald's New Zealand has been left with egg on its face after a raft of bad-taste burger suggestions customers forced it to quickly take down its new design-your-own-burger website. The company launched its "Make Burger History" site this week, as part of a new promotion where customers can "build your own unique burger" and get free fries and a medium soft drink. "Just come in to a participating 'Create Your Taste' McDonald's and order your Creation at the self ordering kiosk," McDonald's promised. But its failure to consider what pranksters might dream up online has left the company red-faced, with the website overrun by racist, homophobic and otherwise offensive suggestions. The page now redirects to the McDonald's homepage. The burger concepts ranged from the mild, such as "Bag of Lettuce" (literally just a pile of lettuce leaves) and "The Carbonator" (seven burger buns, no filling), to X-rated, including "Girth" (a stack of seven undressed burger patties) and "Ron's Creamy Surprise" (a pile of mayonnaise, best left unexplained). But many went totally tasteless, creating burgers with names like "Mosque at Ground-Zero," "Rektal Prolapse" and "Toddler Body Bag," some of which ended up on the website's front page before it was shut down entirely overnight.
Facebook

Facebook Took Its Giant Internet Drone On Its First Test Flight (fastcompany.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes: A year ago, Facebook unveiled Aquila, its effort to put giant drones in the skies to beam Internet connectivity to areas in the developing world without mobile broadband Internet. Today, the company announced it has completed the first full-scale test of its Aquila drone, after months of testing one-fifth-size models. On June 28, the experimental aircraft (featuring a V-shaped wingspan the width of a Boeing 737) took off from the Yuma Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona, and flew for 96 minutes at low altitude, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg and many others watched in the dawn sunlight.. Possibly years of work remain before Facebook's connectivity effort fully takes off, according to a head engineer, including figuring out how to keep the drones aloft for hours at a time, and how to effectively send Internet with lasers.Quartz points out that Facebook may not have been given the permission to test the drones. From the article:Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finalized its regulations for flying commercial drones in the US. These regulations, which require commercial drones to be kept within the line of sight of the person flying the drone, and that the drones be kept below 400 feet, do not go into effect until August. Prior to these regulations, any company wishing to fly or test drones outdoors in the US required an exemption from the FAA, called a Section 333. Quartz checked with the FAA last year to ask whether Facebook had one of these exemptions, and was told it did not. (We've asked the FAA again, and Facebook, to see if the company has since received permission to fly drones in the US.) The FAA has started to fine some companies that operate drones commercially without an exemption, including a nearly $2 million fine for a company that was flying drones over people in New York and Chicago without permission.
Businesses

Tesla's 'Master Plan, Part Deux' Includes Trucks, Buses and Ride-Sharing (latimes.com) 171

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Los Angeles Times: After teasing Part 2 of his "master product plan" for over a week, Elon Musk finally delivered. Los Angeles Times reports: "In a blog post published on the automaker's website, Musk introduced a multiyear, four-pronged strategy that includes new kinds of Tesla vehicles, expanded solar initiatives, updates on Tesla's 'autopilot' technology and a ride-sharing program. Commercial trucks, buses, a 'future compact SUV' and a 'new kind of pickup truck' will be added to Tesla's fleet of electric cars. A heavy-duty truck called the Tesla Semi and a shrunken bus that Musk called a 'high passenger density urban transport' vehicle are in early development stages 'and should be ready for unveiling next year,' he said. The smaller bus would be designed without a center aisle, with seats close to the entrances, and would be able to automatically pace themselves with traffic, the post said. The bus driver would become a 'fleet manager.' Musk also used the master plan to defend his bid for rooftop solar power provider SolarCity and said he aims to make Tesla's Autopilot robotic driver-assist system 10 times safer than cars that humans drive manually. Musk also plans to move Tesla into the popular ride-sharing business, not only with an Uber-like fleet but also with an app that lets Tesla owners rent out their vehicles when they're not using them, perhaps defraying a portion of their auto loans. This will happen, he said, 'when true self-driving is approved by regulators,' a turn of events that's at least several years away."

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