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Communications

RFC 7568 Deprecates SSLv3 As Insecure 45 45

AmiMoJo writes: SSLv3 should not be used, according to the IETF's RFC 7568. Despite being replaced by three versions of TLS, SSLv3 is still in use. Clients and servers are now recommended to reject requests to use SSLv3 for secure communication. "SSLv3 Is Comprehensively Broken," say the authors, and lay out its flaws in detail.
Cellphones

SMS Co-Inventor Matti Makkonen Dead At 63 28 28

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC News reports that Matti Makkonen, a 'grand old man of mobile industry' who helped launch the worldwide sensation of texting, has died at the age of 63 after an illness. Although planning to retire later in 2015 from the board of Finnet Telecoms, Makkonen constantly remained fascinated with communications technologies, from the Nokia 2010 mobile phone to 3G connections. He lived just enough to witness the last remnants of former Finnish mobile industry giant Nokia disappear, as Redmond announced its intent last month to convert all Nokia stores into Microsoft-branded Authorized Reseller and Service Centers, offering Xbox game consoles alongside the Nokia-derived Lumia range of smartphones.
Communications

European Government Agrees On Net Neutrality Rules, With Exemptions 31 31

An anonymous reader writes: The European Union's three main legislative bodies, the European Council, the European Parliment, and the European Commision, have reached an agreement on "Open Internet" rules that establish principles similar to Net Neutrality in the EU. The rules require that all internet traffic and users be treated equally, forbidding paid-for prioritisation of traffic. However, exemptions are permitted for particular "specialised services" where the service is not possible under the open network's normal conditions, provided that the customer using the service pays for the privilege. (The examples given are IPTV, teleconferencing, and telepresence surgery.) Zero-rating — exempting particular data from traffic caps — is also permitted, but will be subject to oversight. Notably, this means (if all goes as promised) the elimination of cellphone roaming fees within the EU; however, that's been promised and delayed before.
Power

Samsung Nanotech Breakthrough Nearly Doubles Li-Ion Battery Capacity 123 123

The Korea Times reports that Samsung researchers have published in Nature Communications the results of research (here's the abstract) that could lead to vastly greater storage capacity for lithium-ion batteries. The researchers, by growing graphene on silicon anodes, were able to preserve the shape of the anodes, an outcome which has formerly eluded battery designers: silicon tends to deform over numerous charging cycles. From the linked abstract: Here we report direct graphene growth over silicon nanoparticles without silicon carbide formation. The graphene layers anchored onto the silicon surface accommodate the volume expansion of silicon via a sliding process between adjacent graphene layers. When paired with a commercial lithium cobalt oxide cathode, the silicon carbide-free graphene coating allows the full cell to reach volumetric energy densities of 972 and 700Whl1 at first and 200th cycle, respectively, 1.8 and 1.5 times higher than those of current commercial lithium-ion batteries. Also at ZDNet.
Networking

Scientists Overcome One of the Biggest Limits In Fiber Optic Networks 62 62

Mark.JUK writes: Researchers at the University of California in San Diego have demonstrated a way of boosting transmissions over long distance fiber optic cables and removing crosstalk interference, which would mean no more need for expensive electronic regenerators (repeaters) to keep the signal stable. The result could be faster and cheaper networks, especially on long-distance international subsea cables. The feat was achieved by employing a frequency comb, which acts a bit like a concert conductor; the person responsible for tuning multiple instruments in an orchestra to the same pitch at the beginning of a concert. The comb was used to synchronize the frequency variations of the different streams of optical information (optical carriers) and thus compensate in advance for the crosstalk interference, which could also then be removed.

As a result the team were able to boost the power of their transmission some 20 fold and push data over a "record-breaking" 12,000km (7,400 miles) long fiber optic cable. The data was still intact at the other end and all of this was achieved without using repeaters and by only needing standard amplifiers.
Social Networks

Are We Too Quick To Act On Social Media Outrage? 369 369

RedK writes: Connie St-Louis, on June 8th, reported on apparently sexist remarks made by Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel prize winning scientist, during an event organised for women in sciences. This led to the man's dismissal from his stations, all in such urgency that he did not even have time to present his side, nor was his side ever offered any weight. A leaked report a few days later suggests that the remarks were taken out of context. Further digging shows that the accuser has distorted the truth in many cases it seems. This is not the first time that people may have jumped the gun too soon on petty issues and ruined great events or careers.
The Internet

Charter Hires Net Neutrality Activist To Make Policy 70 70

An anonymous reader writes: The Federal Communications Commission has been at loggerheads with many ISPs lately, after the agency pushed through net neutrality rules that have now gone into effect. The defeat of Comcast's attempted acquisition of Time Warner Cable was hailed by many net neutrality activists as a victory, but then came the news that Charter was looking to buy TWC instead — which brought the worries back. But now Charter has taken the unusual step of hiring one of those activists to help develop its policy: Marvin Ammori. He says, "Charter hired me—which, to be honest, took some humility on its part since I have helped lead public campaigns against cable companies like Charter—to advise it in crafting its commitment to network neutrality. After our negotiation, I can say Charter is offering the strongest network neutrality commitments ever offered—in any merger or, to my knowledge, in any nation. In fact, in the end, I personally wrote the commitments." Put briefly, Charter agreed to abide by the interconnection mandates and prohibition of paid prioritization — regardless of the outcome of pending litigation from the ISPs fighting it — for a minimum of three years. The company has also promised no data caps and no usage-based billing.
Communications

After 6-Year Beta Test, All Gmail Users Get 'Undo Send' 95 95

jones_supa writes: Since 2009, Google has been beta testing a feature in Gmail called "Undo Send." It allows you to delay emails up to 30 seconds from when you press the "Send" button so you can take them back if you immediately decide it was a bad idea to press the send button. Google announced in a blog post that Undo Send is becoming an official feature. For users who already had the Undo Send beta enabled, the feature will remain on, and those who didn't can turn it on via the General tab under Settings. Users can choose if they want to hold their mail for 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds.
The Internet

SpaceX and OneWeb -- Same Goal, Different Technology and Strategy 54 54

lpress writes: OneWeb has announced that Airbus will manufacture their Internet-connectivity satellites and told us more about their plans and progress. Both OneWeb and their competitor SpaceX have the same goal — global Internet connectivity and backhaul using satellite constellations, but their technologies and organizational strategies are different. SpaceX will use many more satellites than OneWeb, but they will be smaller, shorter-lived, cheaper and orbit at a lower altitude. They are also keeping more of the effort in-house. This is competitive capitalism at its best — let's hope both succeed.
Security

New Snowden Leaks Show NSA Attacked Anti-Virus Software 98 98

New submitter Patricbranson writes: The NSA, along with its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), spent years reverse-engineering popular computer security software in order to spy on email and other electronic communications, according to the classified documents published by the online news site The Intercept. With various countries' spy agencies trying to make sure computers aren't secure (from their own intrusions, at least), it's no wonder that Kaspersky doesn't want to talk about who hacked them.
The Military

The US Navy's Warfare Systems Command Just Paid Millions To Stay On Windows XP 192 192

itwbennett writes: The Navy relies on a number of legacy applications and programs that are reliant on legacy Windows products,' said Steven Davis, a spokesman for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego. And that reliance on obsolete technology is costing taxpayers a pretty penny. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy's communications and information networks, signed a $9.1 million contract earlier this month for continued access to security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003.
Cellphones

Political Polls Become Less Reliable As We Head Into 2016 Presidential Election 292 292

HughPickens.com writes: Cliff Zukin writes in the NY Times that those paying close attention to the 2016 election should exercise caution as they read the polls — election polling is in near crisis as statisticians say polls are becoming less reliable. According to Zukin, two trends are driving the increasing unreliability of election and other polling in the United States: the growth of cellphones and the decline in people willing to answer surveys. Coupled, they have made high-quality research much more expensive to do, so there is less of it. This has opened the door for less scientifically-based, less well-tested techniques.

To top it off, a perennial election polling problem, how to identify "likely voters," has become even thornier. Today, a majority of people are difficult or impossible to reach on landline phones. One problem is that the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act has been interpreted by the Federal Communications Commission to prohibit the calling of cellphones through automatic dialers, in which calls are passed to live interviewers only after a person picks up the phone. To complete a 1,000-person survey, it's not unusual to have to dial more than 20,000 random numbers, most of which do not go to actual working telephone numbers.

The second unsettling trend is rapidly declining response rates, reaching levels once considered unimaginable. In the late 1970s, pollsters considered an 80 percent response rate acceptable, but by 2014 the response rate has fallen to 8 percent. "Our old paradigm has broken down, and we haven't figured out how to replace it," concludes Zukin. "In short, polls and pollsters are going to be less reliable. We may not even know when we're off base. What this means for 2016 is anybody's guess."
Sony

WikiLeaks' Latest: An Even More Massive Trove of Sony Documents 100 100

Newsweek is one of many outlets to report that Wikileaks' latest dump is a trove of Sony's company emails and other documents that consists of even more individual pieces than the 200,000-plus leaked in April. Included, says the Newsweek story, are "276,394 Sony Corp. communications, including email, travel calendars, contact lists, expense reports and private files." One interesting tidbit revealed by the documents thus revealed, spotted by Apple Insider, is that "Apple requested [from Sony] 4K content for potential digital distribution and on-demand services testing nearly two years ago, suggesting the company has been exploring ultra high-definition streaming for some time."
Space

Plasma Resonance Could Overcome Radio Silence For Returning Spacecraft 62 62

Zothecula points out this article about a workaround for a long-standing problem with space-flight communications: some of the most cruicial time of a re-entry is also time when the craft cannot send data to or receive instructions from the ground controllers. From the article: Returning spacecraft hit the atmosphere at over five times the speed of sound, generating a sheath of superheated ionized plasma that blocks radio communications during the critical minutes of reentry. It's a problem that's vexed space agencies for decades, but researchers at China's Harbin Institute of Technology are developing a new method of piercing the plasma and maintaining communications. This means coupling the craft's antenna to that plasma sheath, "[causing] the sheath to act as an inductor. Together, they create a resonant circuit."
Facebook

Facebook's Absurd Pseudonym Purgatory 289 289

An anonymous reader sends a story from a writer whose Facebook account was locked because somebody reported it as using a pseudonym. It doesn't, but Facebook demands a look at identification documents before releasing control over the account. Anyone whose name doesn't sound "real" to Facebook is at risk for this, and the social network doesn't even have a consistent stance on what an "authentic" name is. "Aside from the complexity of identity, the policy is haphazardly enforced at best. At worst, it’s dangerous and discriminatory, and has demonstrably and repeatedly been used to target people who often already are marginalized and vulnerable." Matt Cagle, attorney for the ACLU, says, "By controlling the identity of the speaker with this policy, Facebook has the effect of both reducing speech and eliminating speakers from the platform altogether. This is a particularly concerning move to the ACLU because forums like Facebook serve as the modern-day equivalent of the public square for a lot of communities.
Wireless Networking

Sprint Begins Punishing Customers For FCC's Net Neutrality Rules 272 272

ourlovecanlastforeve writes: A few days ago Sprint announced their intent to stop throttling certain customers' bandwidth in the wake of the FCC fining ATT $100,000,000 for doing the same. Sprint has now begun circulating an internal memo to their front-line reps that the 12-month warranty on non-branded accessories, a featured selling point, will be eliminated. Additional rumors are emerging that Sprint may increase prices on unlimited data plans and stop offering wireline long distance service.
Spam

86.2 Million Phone Scam Calls Delivered Each Month In the US 193 193

An anonymous reader writes with a report from Help Net Security which assigns some numbers to the lucrative fraud-by-phone business in the U.S. -- and it's not just the most naive who are vulnerable. "Phone fraud continues to threaten enterprises across industries and borders, with the leading financial institutions' call centers exposed to more than $9 million to potential fraud each year," says the article. "Pindrop analyzed several million calls for threats, and found a 30 percent rise in enterprise attacks and more than 86.2 million attacks per month on U.S. consumers. Credit card issuers receive the highest rate of fraud attempts, with one in every 900 calls being fraudulent."

What's been your experience with fraudulent robocalls? I've been getting them on a near-daily basis -- fake credit card alerts, "computer support" malware-install attempts, and more -- for a few years now, which makes whitelisting seem attractive. ("Bridget from account services" has been robo-calling a lot lately, and each time she says it is my final notice.) My biggest worry is that the people behind these scams, like spammers, will hire copywriters who can fool many more people.
Businesses

Skype For Web Beta Goes Worldwide 76 76

SmartAboutThings writes: Just days after offering a limited beta release of Skype for Web to customers in the U.S. and UK, Microsoft has made the beta available to users from all over the world. The expansion adds support for: Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, English, German, Greek, Spanish, Estonian, Finnish, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Chinese Simplified, and Chinese Traditional.
Communications

Philae's Lost Seven Months Were Completely Unnecessary 419 419

StartsWithABang writes: This past weekend, the Philae lander reawakened after seven dormant months, the best outcome that mission scientists could've hoped for with the way the mission unfolded. But the first probe to softly land on a comet ever would never have needed to hibernate at all if we had simply built it with the nuclear power capabilities it should've had. The seven months of lost data were completely unnecessary, and resulted solely from the world's nuclear fears.
Mars

A First: CubeSat-Style Probes To Accompany InSight Mars Lander 22 22

Hundreds of CubeSats have been launched to Earth orbit since 2003. Now, though, two of the small-form-factor craft are set for a deeper space mission. According to Spaceflight Now, The twin CubeSat mission, known as Mars Cube One, will launch on an Atlas 5 rocket in March 2016 with NASA’s InSight lander. The CubeSats will relay status signals from InSight as the landing probe descends through the atmosphere, eliminating potential delays in verifying the success of the mission. ... Each Mars Cube One, or MarCO, CubeSat spacecraft measures 14.4 inches (36.6 centimeters) by 9.5 inches (24.3 centimeters) by 4.6 inches (11.8 centimeters) when closed up for launch, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which announced details of the mission Friday. The standardized and small CubeSat has made satellite design and launching accessible to schools and others; going to Mars costs a lot more (in this case it's a "$13 million secondary mission"), but it could conceivably put interplanetary probes possible for deep-pocketed universities or corporations.