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Industry & Technology

Google's Ad Exchange faces privacy probe by Irish regulator

BBC Technology News - 24 min 35 sec ago
Irish Data Protection Commission looks into whether Google's Ad Exchange system is GDPR-compliant.

Consumer Reports: Latest Autopilot “far less competent than a human”

Ars Technica - 1 hour 25 min ago

Enlarge / A Tesla Model 3. (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

In recent weeks, Tesla has been pushing out a new version of Autopilot with automatic lane-change capabilities to Model 3s—including one owned by Consumer Reports. So the group dispatched several drivers to highways around the group's car-testing center in Connecticut to test the feature. The results weren't good.

The "latest version of Tesla's automatic lane-changing feature is far less competent than a human driver," Consumer Reports declares.

Tesla introduced its Navigate on Autopilot feature a few months ago, but at first, it would ask the driver to confirm lane changes. More recently Tesla has given drivers the option to have Autopilot initiate lane changes without confirmation. But CR's reviewers argue that feature isn't ready for prime time.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

T-Mobile/Sprint merger faces big trouble at DOJ, despite FCC approval

Ars Technica - 1 hour 48 min ago

Enlarge / T-Mobile CEO John Legere (left) and then-Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure during an interview on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on April 30, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The Department of Justice's antitrust staff has recommended blocking T-Mobile's attempted purchase of Sprint, Reuters reported today, citing an anonymous source.

DOJ staff "fear that after the deal T-Mobile will no longer aggressively seek to cut prices and improve service to woo customers away from market leaders Verizon and AT&T," Reuters wrote. A final decision is expected to come in about a month.

To block the merger, the DOJ would have to sue in federal court and convince a judge that the merger violates antitrust law. DOJ staff recommendations can influence agency decisions on whether to file antitrust lawsuits, but aren't automatically followed. The DOJ's decision will be made by antitrust chief Makan Delrahim, a Trump appointee.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Belgian loot box decision takes down some of Nintendo’s mobile games

Ars Technica - 1 hour 55 min ago

An example of the randomized hero summons in Fire Emblem Heroes

Nintendo has become the latest publisher affected by a 2018 decision by Belgium's Gaming Commission to treat games with randomized loot boxes as an illegal form of gambling. The publisher announced that mobile titles Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes will be shut down in Belgium on August 27. In a published statement that was translated by Eurogamer, Nintendo of Belgium chalks up the move "to the current unclear situation in Belgium regarding certain in-game revenue models."

Fire Emblem Heroes lets players summon new heroes via a "gacha"-style mechanic that provides random characters to assist in battle. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp also offers randomized boxes of "fortune cookies" that can contain some of the game's most valuable items. Both would seem to be a clear violation of the Belgian Gaming Commission's 2018 ruling, which prohibits titles that offer variable in-game items via "games of chance."

Blizzard, Valve, and 2K quickly removed or altered games for the country in the wake of the ruling, and EA gave up a legal fight against Belgian regulators in January. It's not clear why Nintendo took so much longer to be directly affected by Belgium's decision or why these game removals don't also apply in the Netherlands, which has ruled similarly against loot boxes.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Democratic Party’s network security still lags behind GOP, researchers find

Ars Technica - 2 hours 7 min ago

Enlarge / The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has improved its information security since 2016, but it still has some weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers, researchers at SecurityScorecard found. The Republican National Committee is still a little ahead but has problems of its own. (credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In a study of US and European political parties' security postures, researchers at the security-monitoring company SecurityScorecard found that while the Democratic National Committee had made "significant investments" in security since being hacked in 2016, the Democrats still lagged behind the Republican National Committee's defenses. And both parties have problems that could still leak personally identifying information about voters.

According to the report, one major US political party was "programmatically leaking" personal information about voters through a voting validation application "which enumerates voter name, date of birth and address via search terms," the researchers noted. The vulnerability was disclosed to the party involved and other "appropriate parties."

SecurityScorecard's team looked at the DNC, RNC, Green Party, and Libertarian Party in the US. The Green Party had the best overall scores for security measures, while the Libertarian Party had a more laissez-faire approach to information security than the others—with a failing grade for its management of its domain name records, specifically for a total absence of Sender Protection Framework (SPF) records. The lack of SPF records means that it's more likely Libertarian Party domains could be spoofed in spear-phishing campaigns like those that were used to target the DNC in 2016. The Libertarians did come out ahead on network security scores, however.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Android at I/O 2019: The Project Mainline update system and other highlights

Ars Technica - 2 hours 55 min ago

Google I/O 2019 wrapped up on May 9th, but we're still picking through the incredible flood of information that came out of the show. In addition to the slew of announcements on keynote day, there are dozens of hours of sessions and documentation, plus a whole new Android release to pick though. Here are a few highlights from the show.

Android’s gesture navigation is actually good now

Every Google I/O presents a new release of Android, and paired with Google I/O 2019 is Android Q Beta 3. There really aren't a ton of changes in this beta release, but there is a new navigation system. There are three versions of system navigation in Android Q Beta 3, actually. The traditional three-button navigation is an option, even on devices like the Pixel 3, which originally did not ship with it. Apparently, the three-button mode will be returning to all phones for accessibility considerations, since the gesture system requires a significant amount of fine motor control. The existing Android Pie gesture system has been renamed "two-button navigation." The third option, called "Fully gestural navigation, "is new for Android Q Beta 3, and it's the best version of Android gesture navigation yet.

In Android P, the "two-button" gesture navigation was a bit of a mess. Google only replaced the Recent Apps button with a gesture, and Home and Back were still buttons. The bar didn't save any space, so there wasn't a huge benefit to using it. Beta three solves a lot of these problems. Every button is now a gesture. The navigation bar has been minimized to a slim strip about a third of the height of the usual bar. Some apps will even give you a fully transparent gesture navigation area. The new setup is very reminiscent of iOS, and that's what everyone has been asking for since the launch of gesture navigation with Android P.

Read 35 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple to warn iPhone users about update impact

BBC Technology News - 3 hours 41 min ago
The tech giant must tell customers if a software update will slow down their iPhone, UK regulator has said.

EA shows off its next-generation hair

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 33 min ago
Developers at EA want limp, lifeless hair to be a thing of the past.

Would you pay $1m for a laptop full of malware?

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 36 min ago
The laptop is infected with six notorious strains, including WannaCry and ILoveYou.

Tesla 'hires' witty museum sheep tweeter

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 1 min ago
Social media expert who propelled The Museum of English Rural Life to global fame is snapped up by Tesla.

An exhaustive look at Oculus Quest’s first day of great, wireless VR software

Ars Technica - 5 hours 26 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Oculus / Aurich Lawson)

Three weeks ago, I had many positive things to say in my Oculus Quest VR system review. It's wireless, it's simple to use, and it runs on the bleeding edge of just powerful enough for engrossing "six degrees of freedom" (6DOF) virtual reality.

Thankfully, that review was driven by a variety of pre-release software—which means we didn't have to guess how the hardware's strengths and weaknesses bore out for retail games and apps. But in the time since that article went live, Oculus has dumped even more software into our devices.

So much software, in fact, that we decided to do something we haven't done in a while: a launch-day software guide for a game platform's launch. The last platform to get such an Ars treatment, coincidentally, was Sony's PlayStation VR in 2016but that was a "buy, try, avoid" breakdown of its 14 exclusive games.

Read 72 remaining paragraphs | Comments

“Quacks” blamed for HIV outbreak that infected hundreds of kids

Ars Technica - 6 hours 41 min ago

Enlarge / A Pakistani paramedic takes a blood sample from a baby for a HIV test at a state-run hospital in Rato Dero in the district of Larkana of the southern Sindh province on May 9, 2019. (credit: Getty | RIZWAN TABASSUM)

More than 600 people—most of them children, aged one month to 15 years—have tested positive for HIV in the southern Pakistani town of Ratto Dero, numerous news outlets have reported.

While officials are still investigating the cause of the outbreak, health workers say that rogue doctors and unqualified people practicing medicine are behind the virus’ spread, mostly from using contaminated syringes. Such medical charlatans are popular in the area because they’re often cheaper and more accessible than trained medical providers.

Of the 607 or so confirmed cases in the outbreak so far, 75 percent are in children, according to reporting from the BBC. Cases started appearing in February when parents brought their children to doctors and hospitals with unexplained fevers that lingered. Once word spread that ill children were testing positive for HIV, parents began rushing their kids to a special camp set up by the health department at a local hospital.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Huawei: ARM memo tells staff to stop working with China’s tech giant

BBC Technology News - 8 hours 2 min ago
Chinese company is dealt an "insurmountable" blow as chip designer says it must comply with US trade ban.

EE to launch UK's first 5G service in May

BBC Technology News - 8 hours 26 min ago
Firm says that Huawei's 5G phones will not be available initially.

Drone flown 'within 150ft' of passenger jet off Essex coast

BBC Technology News - 17 hours 42 min ago
The jet's pilots spotted the drone flying directly above them at high speed, a report said.

If a house was designed by machine, how would it look?

BBC Technology News - 17 hours 56 min ago
This house was designed using algorithms and machines. They chose complex, organic-looking forms.

How computing's first 'killer app' changed everything

BBC Technology News - 18 hours 4 min ago
Technology reshapes the workplace in much subtler ways than simply robots stealing jobs.

TalkTalk data breach customer details found online

BBC Technology News - 18 hours 9 min ago
Personal details for 4,545 TalkTalk customers stolen during a 2015 data breach are accessible online.

Amazon set for facial recognition revolt

BBC Technology News - 18 hours 12 min ago
Investors are to vote on whether the firm should continue selling its facial ID tech to the police.

WannaCry? Hundreds of US schools still haven’t patched servers

Ars Technica - May 21, 2019 - 10:48pm

Enlarge / School IT is old school. And still vulnerable to EternalBlue. (credit: PhotoAlto / Frederic Cirou / Getty Images)

If you're wondering why ransomware continues to be such a problem for state and local governments and other public institutions, all you have to do to get an answer is poke around the Internet a little. Publicly accessible security-scan data shows that many public organizations have failed to do more than put a bandage over long-standing system vulnerabilities that, if successfully exploited, could bring their operations to a standstill.

While the method by which RobbinHood ransomware infected the network of Baltimore City two weeks ago is still unknown, insiders within city government have pointed to the incomplete efforts by the Office of Information Technology to get a handle on the city's tangle of software, aging servers, and wide-flung network infrastructure. Baltimore isn't even the only city to have been hit by ransomware in the last month—Lynn, Massachusetts, and Cartersville, Georgia, both had electronic payment systems taken offline by ransomware this month. Greenville, North Carolina, was struck by the same RobbinHood ransomware affecting Baltimore in April.

But cities aren't the only highly vulnerable targets to be found by would-be attackers. There are hundreds of thousands of Internet-connected Windows systems in the United States that still appear to be vulnerable to an exploit of Microsoft Windows' Server Message Block version 1 (SMB v. 1) file sharing protocol, despite repeated public warnings to patch systems following the worldwide outbreak of the WannaCry cryptographic malware two years ago. And based on data from the Shodan search engine and other public sources, hundreds of them—if not thousands—are servers in use at US public school systems.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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