The Washington Post reports on a development that may push Internet access on commercial aircraft from a pleasant luxury (but missing on most U.S. domestic flights) to commonplace. Writes the Post: "The Federal Communications Commission on Friday approved an application process for airlines to obtain broadband Internet licenses aboard their planes. Previously, airlines were granted permission on an ad hoc basis. Airlines need the FCC’s permission to tap into satellite airwaves while in flight that enable passengers to access the Internet. They also need permission from the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees the safety of inflight Internet systems." I hope that on-board Internet not only becomes the default, but that free advertising-backed access does, too; especially for short flights, the "24-hour pass" paid access I've seen on United and Delta is tempting, but too pricey.
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An anonymous reader points out just how thick a skin it takes to be a kernel developer sometimes, linking to a chain of emails on the Linux Kernel Mailing List in which Linus lets loose on a kernel developer for introducing a change that breaks userspace apps (in this case, PulseAudio). "Shut up, Mauro. And I don't _ever_ want to hear that kind of obvious garbage and idiocy from a kernel maintainer again. Seriously. I'd wait for Rafael's patch to go through you, but I have another error report in my mailbox of all KDE media applications being broken by v3.8-rc1, and I bet it's the same kernel bug. And you've shown yourself to not be competent in this issue, so I'll apply it directly and immediately myself. WE DO NOT BREAK USERSPACE! Seriously. How hard is this rule to understand? We particularly don't break user space with TOTAL CRAP. I'm angry, because your whole email was so _horribly_ wrong, and the patch that broke things was so obviously crap. ... The fact that you then try to make *excuses* for breaking user space, and blaming some external program that *used* to work, is just shameful. It's not how we work," writes Linus, and that's just the part we can print. Maybe it's a good thing, but there's certainly no handholding when it comes to changes to the heart of Linux.
An anonymous reader writes "Michigan joins Maryland as a state where employers may not ask employees or job applicants to divulge login information for Facebook and other social media sites. From the article: 'Under the law, employers cannot discipline employees or decline to hire job applicants because they do not give them access information, including user names, passwords, login information, or "other security information that protects access to a personal internet account," according to the bill. Universities and schools cannot discipline or fail to admit students if they do not give similar information.' There is one exception, however: 'However, accounts owned by a company or educational institution, such as e-mail, can be requested.'"
Every years, McAfee Labs produces a list of predictions relating to computer security for the next 12 months. Last year (PDF) they said Anonymous would have to reinvent itself, and that there would be an overall increase in online hacktivism. This year's report (PDF) is not as optimistic for the hacking collective. "Too many uncoordinated and unclear operations have been detrimental to its reputation. Added to this, the disinformation, false claims, and pure hacking actions will lead to the movement’s being less politically visible than in the past. Because Anonymous’ level of technical sophistication has stagnated and its tactics are better understood by its potential victims, the group’s level of success will decline." That's not to say they think hacktivism itself is on the decline, though: "Meanwhile, patriot groups self-organized into cyberarmies and spreading their extremist views will flourish. Up to now their efforts have had little impact (generally defacement of websites or DDoS for a very short period), but their actions will improve in sophistication and aggressiveness." The report also predicts that malware kits will lead to an "explosion in malware" for OS X and mobile, but that Windows 8 will be the next big target.
Orome1 writes "PandaLabs outlined its picks for the most unique viruses of the past year. Rather than a ranking of the most widespread viruses, or those that have caused most infections, these viruses are ones that deserve mention for standing out from the more than 24 million new strains of malware that emerged."
An anonymous reader writes "A new trojan for Android has been discovered that can help carry out Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The malware is also capable of receiving commands from criminals as well as sending text messages for spamming purposes. The threat, detected as "Android.DDoS.1.origin" by Russian security firm Doctor Web, likely spreads via social engineering tricks. The malware disguises itself as a legitimate app from Google, according to the firm."
L3sPau1 writes "A zero-day exploit has been found in the Nvidia Display Driver Service on Windows machines. An attacker with local access can use the exploit to gain root privileges on a Windows machine. Windows domains with relaxed firewall rules or file sharing enabled can also pull off the exploit, which was posted to Pastebin by researcher Peter Winter-Smith."
chicksdaddy writes in with a warning about a popular Wordpress plugin. "A security researcher is warning WordPress users that a popular plugin may leave sensitive information from their blog accessible from the public Internet with little more than a Google search. The researcher, Jason A. Donenfeld, who uses the handle 'zx2c4' posted a notice about the add-on, W3 Total Cache on the Full Disclosure security mailing list on Sunday, warning that many WordPress blogs that had added the plugin had directories of cached content that could be browsed by anyone with a web browser and the knowledge of where to look. The content of those directories could be downloaded, including directories containing sensitive data like password hashes, Donenfeld wrote. W3 Total Cache is described as a 'performance framework' that speeds up web sites that use the WordPress content management system by caching site content, speeding up page loads, downloads and the like. The plugin has been downloaded 1.39 million times and is used by sites including mashable.com and smashingmagazine.com, according to the WordPress web site."
sneakyimp writes "We've seen increasingly creative ways for bad guys to compromise your system like infected pen drives, computers preloaded with malware, mobile phone apps with malware, and a $300 app that can sniff out your encryption keys. On top of these obvious risks, there are lingering questions about the integrity of common operating systems and cloud computing services. Do Windows, OSX, and Linux have security holes? Does Windows supply a backdoor for the U.S. or other governments? Should you really trust your Linux multiverse repository? Do Google and Apple data mine your private mobile phone data for private information? Does Ubuntu's sharing of my data with Amazon compromise my privacy? Can the U.S. Government seize your cloud data without a warrant? Can McAfee or Kaspersky really be trusted? Naturally, the question arises of how to establish and maintain an ironclad workstation or laptop for the purpose of handling sensitive information or doing security research. DARPA has approached the problem by awarding a $21.4M contract to Invincea to create a secure version of Android. What should we do if we don't have $21.4M USD? Is it safe to buy a PC from any manufacturer? Is it even safe to buy individual computer components and assemble one's own machine? Or might the motherboard firmware be compromised? What steps can one take to ensure a truly secure computing environment? Is this even possible? Can anyone recommend a through checklist or suggest best practices?"
cstacy writes "Tatu Yionen, inventor of SSH, says he feels 'a moral responsibility' to come out of retirement and warn that a 'little-noticed problem' could jeopardize the security of much of the world's confidential data. He is referring to the management (or lack thereof) of SSH keys (i.e. 'authorized_keys') files. He suggests that most organizations simply allow the SSH key files to be created, copied, accumulated, and abandoned, all over their network, making easy pickings for intruders to gain access. Do you think this is a widespread problem? How does your company manage SSH keys?" cstacy's summary here is accurate, but as charlesTheLurker notes, the article is a bit over the top: "The Washington Times claims that there's a huge vulnerability in ssh. It turns out that some reporter there has discovered that you can do passwordless login with the software, and has spun this into a story of a dangerous vulnerability. Sigh."
wiredmikey writes "Iranian officials on Tuesday said a 'Stuxnet-like' cyberattack hit some industrial units in a southern province. 'A virus had penetrated some manufacturing industries in Hormuzgan province, but its progress was halted,' Ali Akbar Akhavan said, quoted by the ISNA news agency. Akhavan said the malware was 'Stuxnet-like' but did not elaborate, and that the attack had occurred over the 'past few months.' One of the targets of the latest attack was the Bandar Abbas Tavanir Co, which oversees electricity production and distribution in Hormuzgan and adjacent provinces. He also accused 'enemies' of constantly seeking to disrupt operations at Iran's industrial units through cyberattacks, without specifying how much damage had been caused. Iran has blamed the U.S. and Israel for cyberattacks in the past. In April, it said a voracious malware attack had hit computers running key parts of its oil sector and succeeded in wiping data off official servers."
badger.foo writes "When you're hit with a DDOS, what do you do? In his most recent column, Peter Hansteen narrates a recent incident that involved a DNS based DDOS against his infrastructure and that of some old friends of his. He ends up asking: should we actively publish or 'name and shame' DDOS participants (or at least their IP addresses)? How about scans that may or may not be preparations for DDOSes to come?"
hypnosec writes "BLAKE2 has been recently announced as a new alternative to the existing cryptographic hash algorithms MD5 and SHA-2/3. With applicability in cloud storage, software distribution, host-based intrusion detection, digital forensics and revision control tools, BLAKE2 performs a lot faster than the MD5 algorithm on Intel 32- and 64-bit systems. The developers of BLAKE2 insist that even though the algorithm is faster, there are no loose ends when it comes to security. BLAKE2 is an optimized version of the then SHA-3 finalist BLAKE."
jones_supa writes "Steam users worldwide are getting more than they expected this Christmas, courtesy of Valve. Increasingly annoyed reports are piling up on a Steam Community thread about an ominous 'No Connection' error. Depending on your luck, this means you can either start the client in offline mode and play only single-player games with anything related to the Steamworks cloud features disabled, or you cannot start Steam at all and consequently access anything in your library. However, store related functionality seems unaffected, in case this blunder made you feel like purchasing some more games you may or may not be able to play these holidays." Update: 12/25 17:45 GMT by T : The connection problems were fixed; did you hit the loading errors before they were resolved?
An anonymous reader writes "In fifth grade, I amazed my fellow classmates when I demonstrated what 132 words per minute looked like. Recently, an acquaintance of mine saw me typing out a word document for graduate school and was impressed by my typing abilities. He suggested that I seriously contemplate attempting a Guinness World Record with such abilities. At the moment, I can manage an average of about 155-160 words per minute, with bursts around 180-185 words per minute (in the typing world, five characters defines a word, in case you were wondering). That aside, I have a few questions to pose to Slashdot readers (whom I am sure have been typing much longer than I have): What are some tips to fully maximize one's ability to type at the fastest possible rate? Do you have any specific keyboard recommendations that will improve my speed? Has anybody here ever competed in a typing event or thought about going for the world record? Is it worth learning Dvorak for the sole purpose of attempting such a record? How difficult would it be to improve my typing abilities from where they are now to where they need to be to acquire such a record?"
An anonymous reader writes "Google on Friday announced that it is changing its stance for silently installing extensions in its browser. As of Chrome 25, external extension deployment options on Windows will be disabled by default and all extensions previously installed using them will be automatically disabled."
An anonymous reader writes "Last month, Mozilla Engineering Manager Benjamin Smedberg quietly announced that the 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows would never see the light of day. After what he referred to as 'significant negative feedback,' Smedberg has announced he has reviewed that feedback, consulted with his release engineering team, and has decided on a modification to the original plan: Firefox 64-bit for Windows may still never be released, but nightly builds will live another day."
coondoggie writes "What if your wireless communications just absolutely, positively have to be heard above the din of other users or in the face of massive interference? That is the question at the heart of a new $150,000 challenge that will be thrown down in January by the scientists at DARPA as the agency detailed its Spectrum Challenge — a competition that aims to find developers who can create software-defined radio protocols that best use communication channels in the presence of other users and interfering signals."
Hugh Pickens writes "Michael Wilson writes in the NY Times that top intelligence officials in the New York Police Department are looking for ways to target 'apolitical or deranged killers before they become active shooters' using techniques similar to those being used to spot terrorists' chatter online. The techniques would include 'cyber-searches of language that mass-casualty shooters have used in e-mails and Internet postings,' says Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly. 'The goal would be to identify the shooter in cyberspace, engage him there and intervene, possibly using an undercover to get close, and take him into custody or otherwise disrupt his plans.' There are also plans to send officers to Newtown and to scenes of other mass shootings to collect information says the department's chief spokesman Paul. J. Browne adding that potential tactics include creating an algorithm that would search online 'for terms used by active shooters in the past that may be an indicator of future intentions.' The NYPD's counter-terrorism division released a report last year, 'Active Shooter (PDF),' after studying 202 mass shooting incidents. 'So, we think this is another logical step,' says Kelly."
The Enlightenment front page bears this small announcement: "E17 release HAS HAPPENED!" The release announcement is remarkably spartan — it's mostly a tribute to the dozens of contributors who have worked on the software itself and on translating it into many languages besides system-default English. On the other hand, if you've been waiting since December 2000 for E17 (also known as Enlightenment 0.17), you probably have some idea that Enlightenment is a window manager (or possibly a desktop environment: the developers try to defuse any dispute on that front, but suffice it to say that you can think of it either way), and that the coders are more interested in putting out the software that they consider sufficiently done than in incrementing release numbers. That means they've made some side trips along the way, Knuth-like, to do things like create an entire set of underlying portable libraries. The release candidate changelog of a few days ago gives an idea of the very latest changes, but this overview shows and tells what to expect in E17. If you're among those disappointed in the way some desktop environments have tended toward simplicity at the expense of flexibility, you can be sure that Enlightenment runs the other way: "We don't go quietly into the night and remove options when no one is looking. None of those new big version releases with fanfare and "Hey look! Now with half the options you used to have!". We sneak in when you least expect it and plant a whole forest of new option seeds, watching them spring to life. We nail new options to walls on a regular basis. We bake options-cakes and hand them out at parties. Options are good. Options are awesome. We have lots of them. Spend some quality time getting to know your new garden of options in E17. It may just finally give you the control you have been pining for."