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Pandemic Shutdowns Will Help the Economy, Too

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 18:34
nut (Slashdot reader #19,435) writes: A study by economists Sergio Correia, Stephan Luck and Emil Verner suggests that the best way to save your economy is to save your people. The authors looked at the economic impact of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 on different U.S. cities. They concluded that the earlier, more forcefully and longer cities responded, the better their economic recovery. A faculty affiliate from the Harvard Department of Economics writes in Bloomberg: [C]ities that implemented aggressive social distancing and shutdowns to contain the virus came out looking better. Implementing these policies eight days earlier, or maintaining them for 46 days longer were associated with 4% and 6% higher post-pandemic manufacturing employment, respectively. The gains for output were similar. Likewise, faster and longer-lasting distancing measures were associated with higher post-pandemic banking activity... [T]his is at least consistent with the arguments my Bloomberg Opinion colleagues Noah Smith and Michael Strain have already put forward for why easing distancing measures too early would be potentially devastating for the economy... [I]t looks like the things we should be doing to save lives are also what we should be doing to save the economy.

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Not Just 'The Death of IT'. Cringely Also Predicts Layoffs For Many IT Contractors

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 17:34
Last week long-time tech pundit Robert Cringely predicted "the death of IT" in 2020 due to the widespread adoption of SD-WAN and SASE. Now he's predicting "an even bigger bloodbath as IT employees at all levels are let go forever," including IT consultants and contractors. My IT labor death scenario now extends to process experts (generally consultants) being replaced with automation. In a software-defined network, whether that's SD-WAN or SASE, so much of what used to be getting discreet boxes to talk with one another over the network becomes a simple database adjustment. The objective, in case anyone forgets (as IT, itself, often does) is the improvement of the end-user experience, in this case through an automated process. With SD-WAN, for example, there are over 3,000 available Quality of Service metrics. You can say that Office 365 is a critical metric as just one example. Write a script to that effect into the SD-WAN database, deploy it globally with a keyclick and you are done... It's slowly dawning on IBM [and its competitors] that they have to get rid of all those process experts and replace them with a few subject matter experts. Here's the big lesson: with SD-WAN and SASE the process no longer matters, so knowing the process (beyond a few silverbacks kept on just in case the world really does end) isn't good for business. Cringely predicts the downgrading of corporate bonds will also put pressure on IBM and its competitors, perhaps ultimately leading to a sale or spin-off at IBM. "Either they sell the parts that don't make money, which is to say everything except Red Hat and mainframes, or they sell the whole darned thing, which is what I expect to happen." With that he predicts thousands of layoffs or furloughs — and while the bond market puts IBM in a bigger bind, "this could apply in varying degrees to any IBM competitors."

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A Hacker Found a Way To Take Over Any Apple Webcam

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: Apple has a well-earned reputation for security, but in recent years its Safari browser has had its share of missteps. This week, a security researcher publicly shared new findings about vulnerabilities that would have allowed an attacker to exploit three Safari bugs in succession and take over a target's webcam and microphone on iOS and macOS devices. Apple patched the vulnerabilities in January and March updates. But before the fixes, all a victim would have needed to do is click one malicious link and an attacker would have been able to spy on them remotely. The bugs Pickren found all stem from seemingly minor oversights. For example, he discovered that Safari's list of the permissions a user has granted to websites treated all sorts of URL variations as being part of the same site, like https://www.example.com, http://example.com and fake://example.com. By "wiggling around," as Pickren puts it, he was able to generate specially crafted URLs that could work with scripts embedded in a malicious site to launch the bait-and-switch that would trick Safari. A hacker who tricked a victim into clicking their malicious link would be able to quietly launch the target's webcam and microphone to capture video, take photos, or record audio. And the attack would work on iPhones, iPads, and Macs alike. None of the flaws are in Apple's microphone and webcam protections themselves, or even in Safari's defenses that keep malicious sites from accessing the sensors. Instead, the attack surmounts all of these barriers just by generating a convincing disguise.

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Zoom Will Enable Waiting Rooms By Default To Stop Zoombombing

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 12:00
Zoom is making some much-needed changes to prevent "Zoombombing," a term used to describe when someone successfully invades a public or private meeting over the videoconferencing platform to broadcast shock videos, pornography, or other disruptive content. The act was recently mentioned on the Department of Justice's website, warning that users who engage in this sort of video hacking could face fines and possible imprisonment. TechCrunch reports: Starting April 5th, it will require passwords to enter calls via Meeting ID, as these may be guessed or reused. Meanwhile, it will change virtual waiting rooms to be on by default so hosts have to manually admit attendees. [...] Zoom CEO Eric Yuan apologized for the security failures this week and vowed changes. But at the time, the company merely said it would default to making screensharing host-only and keeping waiting rooms on for its K-12 education users. Clearly it determined that wasn't sufficient, so now waiting rooms are on by default for everyone. Zoom communicated the changes to users via an email sent this afternoon that explains "we've chosen to enable passwords on your meetings and turn on Waiting Rooms by default as additional security enhancements to protect your privacy." The company also explained that "For meetings scheduled moving forward, the meeting password can be found in the invitation. For instant meetings, the password will be displayed in the Zoom client. The password can also be found in the meeting join URL." Some other precautions users can take include disabling file transfer, screensharing or rejoining by removed attendees.

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Twitter Removes 9,000 Accounts Pushing Coronavirus Propaganda Praising the United Arab Emirates

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 02:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News: On April 2, Twitter took down a pro-United Arab Emirates network of accounts that was pushing propaganda about the coronavirus pandemic and criticizing Turkey's military intervention in Libya. Previously tied to marketing firms in the region, parts of this network were removed by Facebook and Twitter last year. The network was made up of roughly 9,000 accounts, according to disinformation research firm DFRLab and independent researcher Josh Russell. Although it promoted narratives in line with the political stances of the governments of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, its origins were unclear. Many Twitter handles contained alphanumeric characters instead of names, and many did not post photos. Accounts that did have profile pictures often used images of Indian models. One video pushed by the fake accounts voiced support for the Chinese government during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in China in February. The video remains online, but lost over 4,000 retweets and likes after the takedown. The video now has four retweets. The bot network also amplified a video of a woman thanking the government of the UAE for transporting Yemeni students out of Wuhan, China. Today, that video, which is also still online, went from having nearly 4,500 retweets to having 70. Spreading propaganda about the coronavirus didn't seem to have been the network's focus. The accounts, some of which posed as journalists and news outlets, amplified an article about the UAE government's disapproval of the Libyan prime minister and boosted criticism of Turkey's support of militias in Libya.

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'Zoombombing' Is a Federal Offense That Could Result In Imprisonment, Prosecutors Warn

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 01:00
"Zoomboming," where someone successfully invades a public or private meeting over the videoconferencing platform to broadcast shock videos, pornography, or other disruptive content, could result in fines and possible imprisonment, according to federal prosecutors. The Verge reports: The warning was posted as a press release to the Department of Justice's website under the U.S. Attorney's office for the state's Eastern district with support from the state attorney general and the FBI. Now, prosecutors say they'll pursue charges for Zoombombing, including "disrupting a public meeting, computer intrusion, using a computer to commit a crime, hate crimes, fraud, or transmitting threatening communications." Some of the charges include fines and possible imprisonment. The press release says that if you or anyone you know becomes a victim of teleconference hacking, they can report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. "Do not make the meetings or classroom public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guest," the guidance reads. "Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people." The Verge adds: "The guidance also advises against allowing anyone but the host to screenshare and asks that users of Zoom and other apps install the latest updates."

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EU Rules Rental Car Companies Don't Need To Pay A License To Rent Cars With Radios That Might Play Music

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-04-04 00:10
Mike Masnick, reporting at TechDirt: Five years ago, we wrote about another such crazy demand -- a PRO (Performance Rights Organizations (PROs), sometimes known as "Collection Societies," that have a long history of demanding licensing for just about every damn thing) in Sweden demanding that rental car companies pay a performance license because their cars had radios, and since "the public" could rent their cards and listen to the radio, that constituted "a communication to the public" that required a separate license. The case has bounced around the courts, and finally up to the Court of Justice for the EU which has now, finally, ruled that merely renting cars does not constitute "communication to the public."

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Trump: CDC Recommends Cloth Face Covering To Protect Against Coronavirus

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-04-03 23:52
President Trump says the CDC now recommends using a cloth face covering to protect against coronavirus, but said he does not plan to do so himself. CNBC reports: Trump stressed that the recommendations were merely voluntary, not required. "I don't think I'm going to be doing it" he said as he announced the new guidance. The CDC's website explained that the recommendations were updated following new studies that some infected people can transmit the coronavirus even without displaying symptoms of the disease. "In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain," such as in grocery stores or pharmacies, "especially in areas of significant community-based transmission," the CDC says. Developing...

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Apple Brings Its Hardware Microphone Disconnect Feature To iPads

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-04-03 23:21
Apple has brought its hardware microphone disconnect security feature to its latest iPads. From a report: The microphone disconnect security feature aims to make it far more difficult for hackers to use malware or a malicious app to eavesdrop on a device's surroundings. The feature was first introduced to Macs by way of Apple's T2 security chip last year. The security chip ensured that the microphone was physically disconnected from the device when the user shuts their MacBook lid. The idea goes that physically cutting off the microphone from the device prevents malware -- even with the highest level of âoerootâ device permissions -- from listening in to nearby conversations. Apple confirmed in a support guide that its newest iPads have the same feature. Any certified "Made for iPad" case that's attached and closed will trigger the hardware disconnect.

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Thousands of Zoom Video Calls Left Exposed on Open Web

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-04-03 22:02
Thousands of personal Zoom videos have been left viewable on the open Web, highlighting the privacy risks to millions of Americans as they shift many of their personal interactions to video calls in an age of social distancing. From a report: Many of the videos appear to have been recorded through Zoom's software and saved onto separate online storage space without a password. But because Zoom names every video recording in an identical way, a simple online search can reveal a long stream of videos that anyone can download and watch. Zoom videos are not recorded by default, though call hosts can choose to save them to Zoom servers or their own computers. There's no indication that live-streamed videos or videos saved onto Zoom's servers are publicly visible. But many participants in Zoom calls may be surprised to find their faces, voices and personal information exposed because a call host can record a large group call without participants' consent.

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Facebook Wanted NSO Spyware To Monitor Users, NSO CEO Claims

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-04-03 17:24
Facebook representatives approached controversial surveillance vendor NSO Group to try and buy a tool that could help Facebook better monitor a subset of its users, according to an extraordinary court filing from NSO in an ongoing lawsuit. From a report: Facebook is currently suing NSO for how the hacking firm leveraged a vulnerability in WhatsApp to help governments hack users. NSO sells a product called Pegasus, which allows operators to remotely infect cell phones and lift data from them. According to a declaration from NSO CEO Shalev Hulio, two Facebook representatives approached NSO in October 2017 and asked to purchase the right to use certain capabilities of Pegasus. At the time, Facebook was in the early stages of deploying a VPN product called Onavo Protect, which, unbeknownst to some users, analyzed the web traffic of users who downloaded it to see what other apps they were using. According to the court documents, it seems the Facebook representatives were not interested in buying parts of Pegasus as a hacking tool to remotely break into phones, but more as a way to more effectively monitor phones of users who had already installed Onavo.

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'Call of Duty' Wins First Amendment Victory Over Use of Humvees

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-04-03 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hollywood Reporter: Call of Duty maker Activision has prevailed in a closely watched trademark dispute brought by AM General, the government contractor for Humvees. On Tuesday, a New York federal judge responded favorably to Activision's argument that it had a First Amendment right to depict contemporary warfare in its game by featuring Humvees. "If realism is an artistic goal, then the presence in modern warfare games of vehicles employed by actual militaries undoubtedly furthers that goal," writes U.S. District Court Judge George B. Daniels in granting summary judgment in favor of Activision. The video game publisher fought AM General's claims along with Major League Gaming Corp., a professional esports organization. The dispute was potentially worth tens of millions of dollars, and the discussion attracted intellectual property professors and the Electronic Software Association to weigh in with amicus briefs. You can read the full opinion here.

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New York Finally Legalizes Electric Bikes and Scooters

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-04-03 02:50
Included in New York's tentative budget agreement reached on April 1st is a provision that would legalize throttle-based bikes and scooters. The Verge reports: The budget language almost exactly mirrors a bill that passed the New York State Legislature last year but was inexplicably vetoed at the last minute by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It changes state law to legalize e-bikes and scooters but would give localities the ability to decide for themselves how to regulate the vehicles. Throttle-based e-bikes favored by delivery workers would be legal, and dockless scooter services like Bird and Lime would need to be permitted by municipalities before launching. Scooters would stay illegal in Manhattan, though the city could eventually overrule that provision. The budget language would create three classes of e-bikes: Class 1 is pedal-assisted with no throttle; Class 2 is throttle-assisted with a maximum speed of 20 mph; and Class 3 is throttle-powered with a maximum speed of 25 mph. E-scooters would be capped at 15 mph, and riders under 18 years of age would be required to wear a helmet. Helmets would also be required for riders of Class 3 e-bikes. (Food delivery workers, who favor these bikes, are already required by law to wear helmets.) But the budget is undoubtedly a huge win for delivery workers and immigrant rights groups that have been fighting for nearly a decade to overturn the rules.

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FCC To Vote On Adding 6Ghz Band To Wi-Fi 6 To Improve Speeds

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-04-03 01:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Devices with Wi-Fi 6 started rolling out at the end of 2019, but now, a new vote proposed by the FCC could open up the 6Ghz band to unlicensed wifi and add a massive speed boost to wireless gadgets. Backed by Chairman Pai, the FCC vote is scheduled to take place on April 23rd, and if passed would add 1200MHz of available bandwidth to the usable wifi spectrum which the FCC says would "effectively increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi almost by a factor of five." Not only would this improve things like latency and download and uploads speeds, because the 6Ghz band was previously mostly used to support things like wireless backhaul, microwave services, and a limited number of public safety services, new 6GHz wifi devices wouldn't really have to compete with other gadgets for spectrum, unlike the existing 2.4Ghz wifi band which often suffers from interference caused by household appliances. The move is also seeing widespread industry support from a number of groups including the Wi-Fi Alliance, which earlier this year announced the creation of the Wi-Fi 6E which incorporates the 6Ghz band into current wireless standards. A number of tech companies also approve of the proposal, including Qualcomm, Intel, Facebook, Cisco and Apple.

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Moscow To Launch Mandatory Surveillance App To Track Residents In Coronavirus Lockdown

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-04-02 22:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: City authorities in Moscow are rolling out new digital "social monitoring" tools targeting the public, after what officials say were constant violations of the city's quarantine imposed this week to fight the spread of the new coronavirus. Under restrictions in place since Monday, most of the city's 12 million residents must remain indoors, barring a few exceptions -- like trips to the supermarket or pharmacy, taking out the trash or briefly walking the dog. But starting Thursday, Muscovites will have their movements tracked through a mandatory app required on their smartphones. Don't have one? The city says it will lend out devices. In addition, Moscow residents will be obligated to register for a government-issued QR code -- a small square matrix bar code containing personal data. What information the codes will hold isn't yet clear. But Russians must present it on their smartphones or carry a printout of their QR profiles to present to police, when requested. (City officials say they're also preparing to educate the public -- and elder Russians, in particular -- on what a QR code actually is.) The new tools will merge with existing street cameras and face recognition software to quickly identify residents who stray from their homes and/or quarantines, say authorities. President Putin also signed a bill into law on Wednesday that introduces criminal penalties for skipping quarantine and infecting others. They include fines and up to seven years in prison.

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Trump Issues Order Under Defense Production Act To Secure More Ventilators

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-04-02 22:04
President Trump moved to use the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era national security mobilization law, to secure supplies companies need to make ventilators. From a report: "My order to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Homeland Security will help domestic manufacturers like General Electric, Hill-Rom, Medtronic, ResMed, Royal Philips, and Vyaire Medical secure the supplies they need to build ventilators needed to defeat the virus," Mr. Trump said in statement that accompanied his order. He praised the companies and other domestic manufacturers for ramping up production of the machines and said the order "will save lives by removing obstacles in the supply chain that threaten the rapid production of ventilators."

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The Internet is Now Rife With Places Where You Can Organize Zoom-bombing Raids

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-04-02 21:37
The internet is rife with online communities where users can go and share Zoom conference codes and request that pranksters connect and hurl insults, play pornographic material, or make death threats against other participants -- in a practice called Zoom-bombing or a Zoom raid. From a report: ZDNet began tracking the tactic since mid-March when the term was first coined following a TechCrunch article. Ever since then, Zoom-bombing incidents have increased, as articles in major news outlets like the New York Times and the BBC have made the practice a favorite pastime for all the teenagers stuck in their homes during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantines. From a niche prank that started on a derelict Discord channel, Zoom-bombing has now spread to enormous proportions -- being so rampant these days that the FBI sent a nationwide alert last week, urging companies, schools, and universities to take steps to secure their Zoom channels. But as Zoom-bombing became more popular, more pranksters wanted to join on the fun, and more users wanted their friends' Zoom meetings disrupted. And as the old saying goes; where there's a demand, there's always a supply. Over the course of the past week, the number of places on the public internet where you can request a zoom raid from a gang of bored teenagers has exploded.

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SpaceX Bans Zoom Over Privacy Concerns

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-04-02 17:24
Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX has banned its employees from using video conferencing app Zoom, citing "significant privacy and security concerns," according to a memo seen by Reuters, days after U.S. law enforcement warned users about the security of the popular app. From a report: SpaceX's ban on Zoom Video illustrates the mounting challenges facing aerospace manufacturers as they develop technology deemed vital to national security while also trying to keep employees safe from the fast-spreading respiratory illness. In an email dated March 28, SpaceX told employees that all access to Zoom had been disabled with immediate effect. "We understand that many of us were using this tool for conferences and meeting support," SpaceX said in the message. "Please use email, text or phone as alternate means of communication." NASA, one of SpaceX's biggest customers, also prohibits its employees from using Zoom, said Stephanie Schierholz, a spokeswoman for the U.S. space agency. The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Boston office on Monday issued a warning about Zoom, telling users not to make meetings on the site public or share links widely after it received two reports of unidentified individuals invading school sessions, a phenomenon known as "zoombombing."

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A Feature on Zoom Secretly Displayed Data From People's LinkedIn Profiles

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-04-02 16:44
After an inquiry from The New York Times reporters, Zoom said it would disable a data-mining feature that could be used to snoop on participants during meetings without their knowledge. From a report: For Americans sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic, the Zoom videoconferencing platform has become a lifeline, enabling millions of people to easily keep in touch with family members, friends, students, teachers and work colleagues. But what many people may not know is that, until Thursday, a data-mining feature on Zoom allowed some participants to surreptitiously access LinkedIn profile data about other users -- without Zoom asking for their permission during the meeting or even notifying them that someone else was snooping on them. The undisclosed data mining adds to growing concerns about Zoom's business practices at a moment when public schools, health providers, employers, fitness trainers, prime ministers and queer dance parties are embracing the platform. An analysis by The New York Times found that when people signed in to a meeting, Zoom's software automatically sent their names and email addresses to a company system it used to match them with their LinkedIn profiles.

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Hospitals Tell Doctors They'll Be Fired If They Speak Out About Lack of Gear

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-04-02 00:50
schwit1 shares a report from Bloomberg, commenting: "And the claim that this is about protecting 'patient privacy' is b***shit." From the report: Ming Lin, an emergency room physician in Washington state, said he was told Friday he was out of a job because he'd given an interview to a newspaper about a Facebook post detailing what he believed to be inadequate protective equipment and testing. In Chicago, a nurse was fired after emailing colleagues that she wanted to wear a more protective mask while on duty. In New York, the NYU Langone Health system has warned employees they could be terminated if they talk to the media without authorization." Doctors are a famously independent profession, where individual medical judgment on what's best for the patient is prized over administrative dictates. That's reared its head during the Covid-19 outbreak, with many physicians, nurses and other health-care workers taking to social media to express deep concerns about the lack of protective gear or much-needed patient-care equipment like respirators. Some posts have gone viral and are being shared hundreds of thousands of times, often tagged with #GetMePPE. Privacy laws prohibit disclosing specific patient information, but they don't bar discussing general working conditions. The report notes that not all hospitals are blocking staff from talking to the press. "New York's Mount Sinai has been scheduling media interviews for nurses, physicians and trainees to help the public understand the severity of the crisis," reports Bloomberg. "The University of California San Francisco Medical Center has gotten hundreds of such calls and encouraged workers to talk to reporters."

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