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Industry & Technology

EU backs controversial copyright law

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 33 min ago
The Copyright Directive was backed by 348 MEPs, with 278 against.

Casino Screwup Royale: A tale of “ethical hacking” gone awry

Ars Technica - 2 hours 10 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

People who find security vulnerabilities commonly run into difficulties when reporting them to the responsible company. But it's less common for such situations to turn into tense trade-show confrontations—and competing claims of assault and blackmail.

Yet that's what happened when executives at Atrient—a casino technology firm headquartered in West Bloomfield, Michigan—stopped responding to two UK-based security researchers who had reported some alleged security flaws. The researchers thought they had reached an agreement regarding payment for their work, but nothing final ever materialized. On February 5, 2019, one of the researchers—Dylan Wheeler, a 23-year-old Australian living in the UK—stopped by Atrient's booth at a London conference to confront the company’s chief operating officer.

What happened next is in dispute. Wheeler says that Atrient COO Jessie Gill got in a confrontation with him and yanked off his conference lanyard; Gill insists he did no such thing, and he accused Wheeler of attempted extortion.

Read 58 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ready Player One: How we made the film's visual effects

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 47 min ago
Industrial Light and Magic explain the challenges involved in making the film.

'The biggest, strangest problem I could find to study'

BBC Technology News - 14 hours 16 min ago
Tackling the "grey noise" of potentially malicious web traffic is a full-time job for IT teams.

Apple announces new services

BBC Technology News - March 25, 2019 - 11:01pm
Apple announced new services across some of their apps at a conference in Cupertino, California.

Apple releases iOS 12.2 with support for News+ service, new AirPods [Updated]

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 10:47pm

Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook announcing Apple News+.

Apple quietly pushed out a lengthy iOS software update today. While the day was largely dominated by Apple's "It's Show Time" event in which the iPhone maker announced news, gaming, and TV subscription services, it just released updates that will help users get settled with some of the new announcements.

Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ won't be available until the fall, so iOS 12.2's biggest updates revolve around Apple News+. The company's new, $10-per-month news and magazine subscription service requires an update to the existing News app, which brings the UI for top articles and magazine issues chosen by Apple editors. The updated News app will also allow subscribers to read content offline and receive personalized recommendations based on topics that are most interesting to them.

iOS 12.2 also adds support for Apple's newest AirPods, which carry the new H1 chip that lets wearers call upon Siri without touching the AirPods first. The update also lets users summon Siri from iPhones or iPads to play any video, show, movie, sports game, or channel on their Apple TVs, essentially extending Siri's role on mobile devices as a virtual remote for the Apple TV.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The EU votes on a confusing new copyright law Tuesday

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 10:22pm

An EU flag at the European Parliament. (credit: European Parliament / Flickr)

On Tuesday, the European Parliament will vote on an overhaul of the EU's copyright system. The body will vote on a compromise announced last month that has received the backing of key European governments. An earlier version of the proposal was approved by the European Parliament last September.

The legislation is controversial, with two provisions receiving the bulk of the criticism. Article 11 aims to help news organizations collect more licensing fees from news aggregators like Facebook and Google News. Article 13 aims to help copyright holders to collect licensing fees from user-generated content platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

Both provisions are maddeningly vague—laying out broad goals without providing much detail about how those goals can be achieved. This is partly because the EU's lawmaking system occurs in two stages. First, EU-wide institutions pass a broad directive indicating how the law should be changed. Then each of the EU's member nations translates the directive into specific laws. This process leaves EU-wide legislators significant latitude to declare general policy goals and leave the details to individual countries.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple unveils TV streaming platform and credit card

BBC Technology News - March 25, 2019 - 10:21pm
The tech giant confirmed it was focusing on online services, rather than devices, at a live event.

Music labels sue Charter, complain that high Internet speeds fuel piracy

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 9:50pm

Enlarge / "Yarr, matey, a pirate would be lost at sea without a swift broadband connection." (credit: Getty Images | OcusFocus)

The music industry is suing Charter Communications, claiming that the cable Internet provider profits from music piracy by failing to terminate the accounts of subscribers who illegally download copyrighted songs. The lawsuit also complains that Charter helps its subscribers pirate music by selling packages with higher Internet speeds.

While the act of providing higher Internet speeds clearly isn't a violation of any law, ISPs can be held liable for their users' copyright infringement if the ISPs repeatedly fail to disconnect repeat infringers.

The top music labels—Sony, Universal, Warner, and their various subsidiaries—sued Charter Friday in a complaint filed in US District Court in Colorado. While Charter has a copyright policy that says repeat copyright infringers may be disconnected, Charter has failed to disconnect those repeat infringers in practice, the complaint said:

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Hijacked ASUS software updates installed backdoor on at least 0.5 million PCs

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 8:40pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

An attack on the update system for ASUS personal computers running Microsoft Windows allowed attackers to inject backdoor malware into thousands of computers, according to researchers at Kaspersky Labs. The attack, reported today on Motherboard by Kim Zetter, took place last year and dropped malicious software signed with ASUS’ own digital certificate—making the software look like a legitimate update. Kaspersky analysts told Zetter that the backdoor malware was pushed to ASUS customers for at least five months before it was discovered and shut down.

The traces of the attack were discovered by Kaspersky in January 2019, but it actually occurred between June and November 2018. Called “ShadowHammer” by Kaspersky, the attack targeted specific systems based on a range of MAC addresses. That target group, however, was substantial. According to a blog post by a Kaspersky spokesperson:

Over 57,000 Kaspersky users have downloaded and installed the backdoored version of ASUS Live Update at some point in time... We are not able to calculate the total count of affected users based only on our data; however, we estimate that the real scale of the problem is much bigger and is possibly affecting over a million users worldwide.

Nearly half of the affected systems detected by Kaspersky were computers in Russia, Germany, and France—though this number may be more representative of where Kaspersky users with ASUS computers were rather than the actual geographic distribution. The domain associated with the attack, asushotfix.com, was hosted on a server with an IP address in Russia.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple debuts its own credit card with a physical version to complement the app

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 8:06pm

At Apple's event on Monday, the company announced that it would partner with Goldman Sachs and MasterCard to offer its own credit card, not only within the Apple Wallet app but also as a physical metal credit card that can be used wherever Apple Pay isn't accepted.

The Apple Card will come without any late fees, annual fees, over-limit fees, or international fees. The company promised a low interest rate, but that rate does not seem to have been made public yet. Instead of offering points, Apple's card will apply cash to the customer's card. Customers receive 2 percent cash back on purchases made with Apple Pay and 3 percent cash back on purchases made on Apple products.

On pure economics, Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com, said that Apple's cash back terms were OK but not great. Rossman pointed to Citi's Double Cash card, which offers 2 percent cash back on every purchase (not just purchases made with Apple Pay) or US Bank's Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card, which "gives three points per dollar on mobile wallet spending (worth 3 percent cash back or 4.5 percent off travel)."

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Edge-on-Chromium approaches; build leaks, extensions page already live

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 7:45pm

The Edge Insider extension. (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's first public release of a Chromium-based version of its Edge browser is fast approaching. Microsoft has published an early version of its extension market for the new browser, and the Windows Store includes a new extension for Edge-on-Chromium. On top of all this, a build of the browser has leaked.

The new build confirms much of what we've seen before: the browser is a minimally changed rebranded version of Chrome, replacing integration with Google's accounts with integration with Microsoft's accounts. This integration is still at an early stage; bookmarks can be synced between systems, but history, passwords, open tabs, autocomplete information, and open tabs don't yet sync.

Google has multiple release channels for Chrome; beyond the Stable channel, there's a Beta channel previewing the next release, the Dev channel previewing the release after that, and the Canary channel, which provides nightly builds. Microsoft's new extension for Edge Insider appears to offer easy switching between channels, announcements, known issues, and asking users for focused testing on particular areas.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple finally enters TV streaming space with new Apple TV+ service

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 7:08pm

Enlarge (credit: Ron Amadeo)

CUPERTINO, Calif.—It's been a long time and many rumors coming, but Apple has finally unveiled its streaming video service. Dubbed Apple TV+, the service combines some aspects of existing players in the space like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.

The originals

At the vanguard of Apple TV+ is Apple's own original programming. The company reportedly spent $1 billion developing TV shows and films to include on the service. Upon announcing the streaming service, Apple showed a video featuring the numerous artists it worked with to create original content for the service—filmmakers including Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, as well as actors including Reese Witherspoon and Octavia Spencer.

These creators and actors serve as the foundation for Apple TV+, thanks to all the original content they have created (and will continue to create) for the service. Steven Spielberg took Apple's stage to talk about the reboot of Amazing Stories, a sci-fi anthology series that Spielberg hopes will "transport the audience with every episode."

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple unveils Apple Arcade subscription service for iOS, Mac, Apple TV games

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 6:59pm

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

CUPERTINO, Calif.—Apple today announced a new subscription service called Apple Arcade for games on its platforms, including iPad, iPhone, Mac, and Apple TV. The service will debut "this fall." Its exact price has not yet been confirmed.

The paid-subscription service will include games "unavailable on any other mobile service," Apple confirmed, and it will launch with "over 100 new and exclusive games." A sizzle reel of flashy games appeared at today's Apple event, and it largely focused on indie games that haven't yet launched on either traditional or mobile platforms yet. One notable exception: there was a brief shot of an apparently unannounced Sonic the Hedgehog game.

By paying the subscription fee, players will have access to all games for as long as they want with no limits or microtransactions attached. Shared family accounts will have access to the titles and parental controls for no additional charge. And the service's multi-device support extends to letting iOS gamers suspend an Apple Arcade game on their phone, then resume playing it on another device, or vice versa.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple News+: A newsstand of 300 glossy magazines for $9.99/month

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 6:19pm

Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook announcing Apple News+.

CUPERTINO, Calif.—As expected, Apple has announced a magazine subscription service built on top of its acquisition last year of Texture. Called Apple News+, it will offer fully browsable, digital versions of over 300 print magazines and newspapers like Wired, GQ, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal. The service also includes a number of digital-only publications. The service builds on Apple's free news content, which aggregates content from online publications like Forbes and The Atlantic.

As presented on stage, the service closely resembles what Texture looked like before. There is a heavy emphasis on human curation, with reading lists of articles across publications on certain themes and the like. As a bonus, magazines can offer live covers, turning their splashy photos into miniature videos.

Texture was previously owned jointly by several publishers, but Apple acquired the company, its staff, and its technology for an undisclosed amount in March of 2018. According to reports, publishers make their content available on the platform and share 50 percent of the revenue with Apple. Some publishers have balked at these terms, and some are reportedly grandfathered in from their deal with Texture, meaning that their continued participation in the service is not assured.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

$35 billion in research funding “now at stake” after Trump executive order

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 6:05pm

Enlarge / A protest near the UC Berkeley campus. (credit: Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Imagess)

Over the past several years, college campuses have experienced a number of incidents related to free speech. These have included cases of disruptive protests, controversial speakers being "disinvited," and in rare cases, physical altercations. The speakers who have been the focus of these controversies are often identified with conservative causes. Notably, in early March, a conservative activist was assaulted on the UC Berkeley campus.

These high-profile incidents apparently inspired President Trump to issue a rather dramatic threat in early March: campuses that don't protect free speech could see their research funding cut. On Friday, he ostensibly followed through on this, issuing an executive order targeting "free inquiry" at colleges and universities. But the language of the order is vague enough that its consequences for research funding are completely opaque.

Uncertain threats

The order itself actually lumps together two unrelated issues. The first is the cost of education relative to its likely payoff in terms of gainful employment; the order seeks to ensure better disclosure of this by colleges. That has been joined to what the order refers to as "free inquiry" issues, which the order defines as related to First Amendment compliance—meaning free speech on campuses.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

10 years of Grindr: A rocky relationship

BBC Technology News - March 25, 2019 - 5:53pm
A look back at the highs and lows from the first 10 years of dating app Grindr.

Liveblog: Apple unveils its TV service and more at the March 25 “It’s show time” event

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 5:47pm

Enlarge / The event invite strongly hints at the upcoming video service. (credit: Apple)

CUPERTINO, Calif.—At 10am Pacific on Monday, March 25, Apple and its partners will take the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif., to talk about a new TV-streaming platform, a new magazine-subscription service, and possibly much more. We'll be liveblogging the event as it happens, so join us here a few minutes before the show for all the updates.

Apple has been signaling to investors, partners, and customers for many months that it will increase its focus on services—always-available, ever-growing content and software offerings—more in the future, as that is the part of its business it expects to grow the fastest. Monday's "It's show time" event will be unusual in that it is expected to focus more on those services than any prior Apple event.

Some hardware announcements were strong possibilities due to timing and reports across the Web—namely, new iPads, AirPods, and iMacs, plus a new iPod touch and AirPower charging mat.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ethiopian Airlines flight’s stall-prevention software was active at crash, CEO says

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 5:37pm

Enlarge / BISHOFTU, ETHIOPIA - MARCH 11: Parts of an engine and landing gear lie in a pile after being gathered by workers during the continuing recovery efforts at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302. (credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

The chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published today that he had reason to believe that software intended to prevent Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from stalling in flight had been activated aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 shortly before its crash. CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said that “to the best of our knowledge,” the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) for stall prevention was active at the time of the crash.

This is the first time anyone connected to the Flight 302 investigation has specifically referenced the flight software as being involved. Ethiopian and French investigators had noted similarities in flight data to that of the ill-fated Lion Air Flight 610, a crash that was determined to be at least partially caused by the MCAS software’s malfunction due to a faulty sensor input. Investigators also cited the Flight 302 crew’s lack of training on how to shut the MCAS system down in the critical moments before the crash.

Gebremariam did not share what details he had received that led to his conclusion. But he did say that it would be difficult for Boeing to restore trust in the 737 MAX aircraft’s safety, and he was critical of Boeing’s failure to do more to inform airlines of the changes in operation related to MCAS when it was introduced. “In retrospect I would have expected them to have been more transparent on the MCAS, the technicalities of the MCAS, what it does and what it doesn’t do,” he told The Wall Street Journal. And after the first 737 MAX crash in Indonesia, the CEO said, “more should have been done from the Boeing side in terms of disclosure, in terms of coming up with strong procedures, stronger than what they gave us.”

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Massive Ebola outbreak continues to rage; case count surpasses 1,000

Ars Technica - March 25, 2019 - 5:28pm

Enlarge / Health workers are seen inside the 'red zone' of an Ebola treatment centre, which was attacked in the early hours of the morning on March 9, 2019 in Butembo. (credit: Getty | John Wessels)

The tally of deadly Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ticked above 1,000 this weekend as health responders continue to struggle to thwart the disease amid violent conflict.

The outbreak has been raging since August in the country’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces, which sit on the eastern side of the country, bordering South Sudan, Uganda, and Rwanda. The World Health Organization reported 1,009 cases (944 confirmed, 65 probable), including 629 deaths (564 confirmed, 65 probable) on Saturday, March 23.

The outbreak is the second largest of all time, surpassed only by the 2014 West African outbreak, which involved more than 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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