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  • FCC Fines Verizon For Failing To Investigate Rural Phone Problems

    WheezyJoe writes Verizon agreed to a $5 million settlement after admitting that it failed to investigate whether its rural customers were able to receive long distance and wireless phone calls. The settlement is related to the FCC's efforts to address what is known as the rural call completion problem. Over an eight-month period during 2013, low call answer rates in 39 rural areas should have triggered an investigation, the FCC said. The FCC asked Verizon what steps it took, and Verizon said in April 2014 that it investigated or fixed problems in 13 of the 39 areas, but did nothing in the other 26.

    "Rural call completion problems have significant and immediate public interest ramifications," the FCC said in its order on the Verizon settlement today. "They cause rural businesses to lose customers, impede medical professionals from reaching patients in rural areas, cut families off from their relatives, and create the potential for dangerous delays in public safety communications." Verizon has been accused of letting its copper landline network decay while it shifts its focus to fiber and cellular service. The FCC is working a plan to protect customers as old copper networks are retired.

    70 comments | 3 hours ago

  • "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

    mi (197448) writes You heard the scare-mongering, you heard the governors and mayors closing public transit and declaring driving on public roads a crime. But it turned out to have been a mistake. Boston may have been hit somewhat, but further South — NYC and Philadelphia — the snowfall was rather underwhelming. Promised "2-3 feet" of snow, NYC got only a few inches. Is this an example of "better safe than sorry," or is government's overreach justified by questionable weather models exceeding the threshold of an honest mistake?

    281 comments | 4 hours ago

  • White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

    HughPickens.com writes The Washington Post reports that the intrusion by a recreational drone onto the White House lawn has exposed a security gap at the compound that the Secret Service has spent years studying but has so far been unable to fix. Commercial technology is available that can use a combination of sensitive radar and acoustic trackers to detect small drones, though coming up with an effective way to stop them has been more elusive. "To do something about the problem, you have to find it, you have to track it, you have to identify it and you have to decide what to do with it," says Frederick F. Roggero. "But especially in an urban environment, it would be tough to detect and tough to defeat kinetically without shooting it down and causing collateral damage." Most recreational drones, like the one that crashed Monday, weigh only a few pounds and lack the power to do much harm. Larger models that can carry payloads of up to 30 pounds are available on the market and are expected to become more common. The FAA imposes strict safety regulations on drones flown by government agencies or anyone who operates them for commercial purposes. In contrast, hardly any rules apply to people who fly drones as a hobby, other than FAA guidelines that advise them to keep the aircraft below 400 feet and five miles from an airport. "With the discovery of an unauthorized drone on the White House lawn, the eagle has crash-landed in Washington," says Senator Charles Schumer. "There is no stronger sign that clear FAA guidelines for drones are needed."

    170 comments | 5 hours ago

  • Researchers Tie Regin Malware To NSA, Five Eyes Intel Agencies

    Trailrunner7 writes Researchers at Kaspersky Lab have discovered shared code and functionality between the Regin malware platform and a similar platform described in a newly disclosed set of Edward Snowden documents 10 days ago by Germany's Der Spiegel. The link, found in a keylogger called QWERTY allegedly used by the so-called Five Eyes, leads them to conclude that the developers of each platform are either the same, or work closely together. "Considering the extreme complexity of the Regin platform and little chance that it can be duplicated by somebody without having access to its source codes, we conclude the QWERTY malware developers and the Regin developers are the same or working together," wrote Kaspersky Lab researchers Costin Raiu and Igor Soumenkov today in a published report. (Here is the Spiegel article.)

    75 comments | 7 hours ago

  • Plan C: The Cold War Plan Which Would Have Brought the US Under Martial Law

    v3rgEz writes with this story of a top secret Cold War plan which would have brought the U.S. under martial law. Starting on April 19, 1956, the federal government practiced and planned for a near-doomsday scenario known as Plan C. When activated, Plan C would have brought the United States under martial law, rounded up over ten thousand individuals connected to 'subversive' organizations, implemented a censorship board, and prepared the country for life after nuclear attack. There was no Plan A or B....Details of this program were distributed to each FBI field office. Over the following months and years, Plan C would be adjusted as drills and meetings found holes in the defensive strategy: Communications were more closely held, authority was apparently more dispersed, and certain segments of the government, such as the U.S. Attorneys, had trouble actually delineating who was responsible for what. Bureau employees were encouraged to prepare their families for the worst, but had to keep secret the more in-depth plans for what the government would do if war did break out. Families were given a phone number and city for where the relocated agency locations would be, but not the exact location.

    273 comments | yesterday

  • Secret Service Investigating Small Drone On White House Grounds

    An anonymous reader sends word that the Secret Service is investigating a "device," described as a small drone, found on the grounds of the White House. "A small drone was found on the White House grounds overnight, two law enforcement sources told ABC News, but White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the situation 'does not pose any sort of ongoing threat.' The Secret Service is investigating the device, Earnest said. Police, fire and other emergency vehicles swarmed around the White House in the pre-dawn hours, with several clustered near the southeast entrance to the mansion. The White House was dark and the entire perimeter was on lockdown until around 5 a.m., when pass holders who work in the complex were allowed inside."

    143 comments | yesterday

  • Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

    HughPickens.com writes The Independent reports that hacktivist group Anonymous, in a project named Operation DeathEaters, is calling for help in its fight against international pedophile networks, or what it calls the "paedosadist industry" and has issued a video instructing activists on how they can aid in the operation. The Anonymous project is intended to break what it says is a conspiracy of silence among sympathetic politicians, police and mainstream media to downplay the full extent of the online child sex industry. "The premise behind OpDeathEaters is to expose high level complicity, obstruction of justice and cover-up in the paedo-sadist industry in order to show the need for independent inquiries," says Heather Marsh, an online activist who is helping to co-ordinate the operation and describes herself as an "old friend" of Anonymous. The Anonymous database, which will be hosted on the GitHub online repository, promises to collate cases from all around the world, cross-referencing connections within sub-groups including the police, armed forces, schoolteachers, politicians, media, academics and religious organisations. The database's ultimate purpose has yet to be fully determined, but in the first instance the group says it wants to shut down the child-sex industry by "dismantling the power structure which held it there" and by "educating to create a cultural change".

    The group is calling on volunteers to help with the ongoing work, which has been divided into three steps. The first is about collecting "all the factual information," second is to "share that information as widely as possible," and the third step is "to set up an independent, internationally linked, inquiry into all the areas which do not appear to have been investigated properly." Activists point to the muted media coverage given to a recent case in Washington DC in which Michael Centanni, a senior Republican fundraiser, was charged with child sex offences after investigators traced transmissions of child pornography to his computers in his basement. The case was not covered by The Washington Post or the New York Times, and was only picked up by a local NBC affiliate state and The Washington Examiner, a small conservative paper in the city. According to the court filings, Centanni was found in possession of 3,000 images, many apparently filmed in his own bedroom, including one showing a man raping a five-year-old girl who cries "no" and "mommy" while the man says "good baby" and "stop crying," according to one filing.

    400 comments | 2 days ago

  • Ed Felten: California Must Lead On Cybersecurity

    An anonymous reader writes In a Sacramento Bee op-ed, (in)famous computer security researcher Ed Felten responds to the State of the Union cybersecurity proposal. He doesn't mince words: "The odds of clearing Congress: low. The odds of materially improving security: even lower. "What he suggests as an alternative, though, is a surprise. "California," he writes, "could blaze a trail for effective cybersecurity policy." He calls for the state government to protect critical infrastructure and sensitive data, relying on outside auditors and experts. It's an interesting idea. Even if it doesn't go anywhere, at least it's some fresh thinking in this area of backward policy. From Felten's essay: Critical infrastructure increasingly relies on industrial automation systems. And those systems are often vulnerable – they keep a default password, for instance, or are accessible from the public Internet. These are not subtle or sophisticated errors. Fixing them requires basic due diligence, not rocket science. Requiring the state’s critical infrastructure providers to undergo regular security audits would be straightforward and inexpensive – especially relative to the enormous risks. Areas of sensitive data are also low-hanging cyber fruit. In health care, education and finance, California already imposes security and privacy requirements that go beyond federal law. Those legal mandates, though, are mostly enforced through after-the-fact penalties. Much like critical infrastructure, sectors that rely upon sensitive data would benefit from periodic outside auditing. Of any state government's, California's policies also have the chance to help (or harm) the most people: nearly 39 million people, according to a 2014 U.S. Census estimate.

    79 comments | 2 days ago

  • SpaceX, US Air Force Settle Spy Sat Dispute

    hypnosec writes The US Air Force and private space flight company SpaceX have settled their dispute involving the military's expendable rocket program, thereby paving the way for SpaceX to join the spy satellite launch program known as Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The settlement opens doors for SpaceX to compete with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for launch of spy satellites. ULA is a joint Boeing-Lockheed venture – the only private player to have received clearance for launching black ops satellites.

    80 comments | 2 days ago

  • Fark's Drew Curtis Running For Governor of Kentucky

    New submitter AlCapwn writes [Fark founder] Drew Curtis announced on Friday that he will be running for governor of Kentucky. "We have a theory that we're about to see a huge change in how elections and politics work. Across the country, we have seen regular citizens stepping up and challenging the status quo built by political parties and career politicians. They have been getting closer and closer to victory and, here in Kentucky, we believe we have a chance to win and break the political party stronghold for good."

    119 comments | 2 days ago

  • Doomsday Clock Moved Two Minutes Forward, To 23:57

    An anonymous reader writes As reported by CNN and Time, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved their famed Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight. Now at 23:57, this clock attempts to personify humanity's closeness to a global catastrophe (as caused by either climate change or nuclear war). According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, this change is due to a lack of action regarding climate issues, the continued existence of nuclear weapon stockpiles, and the increased animosity that now exists between the United States and Russia.

    215 comments | 2 days ago

  • Bomb Threats Via Twitter Partly Shut Down Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that "Credible" bomb threats were made Saturday against two flights bound for Atlanta, an airport spokesman said. The flights landed safely after being escorted into Atlanta by military fighter jets. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport spokesman Reese McCrainie told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at 3 p.m. that both flights — Delta 1156 and Southwest 2492 — had landed and were sitting on a taxiway waiting to be swept by the Atlanta police Bomb Squad. ... Witnesses reported seeing multiple emergency vehicles on the tarmac, and the Federal Aviation Administration said just before 3 p.m. that departing flights were experiencing gate holds and delays of up to 30 minutes due to a bomb threat. USA Today says that the flights were on their way to Atlanta from, respectively, Portland, Oregon and Milwaukee, and adds that "NORAD Media Relations Specialist Preston Schlachter confirmed that two F-16 jets launched from McIntire Air Force Base in South Carolina as a precautionary measure."

    109 comments | 2 days ago

  • Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

    mrspoonsi writes The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is adding crash imminent braking and dynamic braking support to its list of recommended advanced safety features for new cars. The former uses sensors to activate the brakes if a crash is imminent and the driver already hasn't. Dynamic braking support, on the other hand, increases stopping power if you haven't put enough pressure on the brake pedal. Like lane-departure and front collision warning systems, these features are available on some models already — this move gives them high-profile attention, though. And for good reason: As the NHSTA tells it, a third of 2013's police-reported car accidents were the rear-end crashes and a "large number" of the drivers either didn't apply the brakes at all (what?!) or fully before impact.

    303 comments | 3 days ago

  • By the Numbers: The Highest-Paying States For Tech Professionals

    Nerval's Lobster writes The average technology professional made $89,450 in 2014, according to Dice's latest salary survey. When it comes to salaries, however, not all states and cities are created equal. Those tech pros living and working in Silicon Valley are the highest-paid in the country, with an average annual salary of $112,610—but that salary grew only 4 percent year-over-year, lagging behind cities such as Portland and Seattle. Dice has built an interactive map that shows where people are making the most (and least). As you click around, note how salary growth is particularly strong in parts of the West, the Northeast, and the South, while remaining stagnant (and even regressing) in some middle states. If anything, the map reinforces what many tech pros have known for years: that more cities and regions are becoming hubs of innovation.

    135 comments | 3 days ago

  • Verizon About To End Construction of Its Fiber Network

    WheezyJoe writes: If you've been holding out hope that FiOS would rescue you from your local cable monopoly, it's probably time to give up. Making good on their statements five years ago, Verizon announced this week it is nearing "the end" of its fiber construction and is reducing wireline capital expenditures while spending more on wireless.

    The expense of replacing old copper lines with fiber has allegedly led Verizon to stop building in new regions and to complete wiring up the areas where it had already begun. The fiber network was profitable, but nowhere near as profitable as their wireless network. So, if Verizon hasn't started in your neighborhood by now, they never will, and you'd best ignore all those ads for FiOS.

    195 comments | 3 days ago

  • Barrett Brown, Formerly of Anonymous, Sentenced To 63 Months

    An anonymous reader writes with news that a journalist linked to Anonymous, Barret Brown, has been sentenced. "Barrett Brown, a journalist formerly linked to the hacking group Anonymous, was sentenced Thursday to over five years in prison, or a total of 63 months. Ahmed Ghappour, Brown's attorney, confirmed to Ars that Brown's 28 months already served will count toward the sentence. That leaves 34 months, or nearly three years, left for him to serve. In April 2014, Brown took a plea deal admitting guilt on three charges: "transmitting a threat in interstate commerce," for interfering with the execution of a search warrant, and to being "accessory after the fact in the unauthorized access to a protected computer." Brown originally was indicted in Texas federal court in December 2012 on several counts, including accusations that he posted a link from one Internet relay chat channel, called #Anonops, to another channel under his control, called #ProjectPM. The link led to private data that had been hijacked from intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, or Statfor."

    110 comments | 4 days ago

  • Senator Who Calls STEM Shortage a Hoax Appointed To Head Immigration

    dcblogs (1096431) writes The Senate's two top Republican critics of temporary worker immigration, specifically the H-1B and L-1 visas, now hold the two most important immigration posts in the Senate. They are Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who heads the Senate's Judiciary Committee, and his committee underling, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who was appointed by Grassley on Thursday to head the immigration subcommittee. Sessions was appointed one week after accusing the tech industry of perpetuating a "hoax" by claiming there is a shortage of qualified U.S. tech workers. "The tech industry's promotion of expanded temporary visas — such as the H-1B — and green cards is driven by its desire for cheap, young and immobile labor," wrote Sessions, in a memo he sent last week to fellow lawmakers. Sessions, late Thursday, issued a statement about his new role as immigration subcommittee chairman, and said the committee "will give voice to those whose voice has been shut out," and that includes "the voice of the American IT workers who are being replaced with guest workers."

    508 comments | 4 days ago

  • Blogger Who Revealed GOP Leader's KKK Ties Had Home Internet Lines Cut

    blottsie writes Last month, Lamar White, Jr. set off a firestorm in Washington when a post on his personal blog revealed that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, was a featured speaker at a white nationalist conference put on by former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Then someone climbed in his back yard and severed his Internet cables.

    418 comments | 5 days ago

  • US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

    sciencehabit writes The U.S. Senate's simmering debate over climate science has come to a full boil today, as lawmakers prepare to vote on measures offered by Democrats that affirm that climate change is real—with one also noting that global warming is not "a hoax." In an effort to highlight their differences with some Republicans on climate policy, several Democrats have filed largely symbolic amendments to a bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. They are designed to put senators on the record on whether climate change is real and human-caused.

    665 comments | 5 days ago

  • US Army Wants Weapon To Destroy Drone Swarms

    An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. military loves to use drones against enemies who have no defense against them: think terrorist cells, ISIS/IS/ISIL, the Taliban etc. However, drones are getting cheaper to make, easier to use, and more technologically sophisticated. The day is coming when U.S. military planners will have to defend against drones. And they may have to fight off lots of them.

    They already seem to have some ideas — their research proposal says such an anti-drone weapon would "disrupt these platforms' autonomous flight-control and navigation capabilities or cueing a weapons system like the Remotely-Operated Weapon Station (RWS) or other medium or large-caliber weapon." The system would be mounted on vehicles or at Army installations. More interesting, the Army proposal also notes that it might be mounted on UAVs, which raises the possibility of using drones to shoot down other drones.

    208 comments | about a week ago

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