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07.19.17

Links 19/7/2017: MPV 0.26, Netrunner Rolling 2017.07

Posted in News Roundup at 4:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • RIGHT TO REPAIR IS RIGHT TO INTERPRET

    Some metaphorical insight is to be gained in the comparison between reading and writing, and reaping and sowing. Changes in technology that facilitate physical contact between laborers and their element, be it a blank page or a fallow field, bring farmers and literary scholars into a more direct, non-figurative conversation, concerning the nature of electronic goods.

  • Science

    • Congressman asks scientists if they’ve found ancient civilizations on Mars

      On Thursday, the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee held a hearing to look into NASA’s forthcoming big-ticket planetary exploration missions. Those missions include a Mars 2020 rover, a Europa flyby mission, and potentially a follow-up lander to the Jovian moon Europa.

      The hearing was respectable, with on-point witnesses and mostly incisive questions. That is, until California Republican Dana Rohrabacher had his turn at the microphone. After asking a reasonable, if rambling, question about NASA’s plans for a Mars sample return mission and the kind of fuel used by spacecraft, Rohrabacher got down to business.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • The Risks of DNS Hijacking Are Serious and You Should Take Countermeasures

      Over the years hackers have hijacked many domain names by manipulating their DNS records to redirect visitors to malicious servers. While there’s no perfect solution to prevent such security breaches, there are actions that domain owners can take to limit the impact of these attacks on their Web services and users.

    • Lawyers score big in settlement for Ashley Madison cheating site data breach

      The owners of the Ashley Madison cheating-dating website have agreed to pay $11.2 million to settle two dozen data breach lawsuits as a result of a 2015 incident involving as many as 37 million members’ personal identifying information being exposed online. The deal (PDF) earmarks up to one-third, or about $3.7 million, for attorneys’ fees and costs. An additional $500,000 has been set aside to administer the remaining $7 million earmarked for Ashley Madison members.

    • Representative IoT Device: IP Video Camera

      These IP cameras are available with full support and regular updates from industrial suppliers at prices ranging from several hundred to a few thousand dollars per camera. They are commonly sold in systems that include cameras, installation, monitoring and recording systems and software, integration, and service and support. There are a few actual manufacturers of the cameras, and many OEMs place their own brand names on the cameras.

    • Hack Brief: ‘Devil’s Ivy’ Vulnerability Could Afflict Millions of IoT Devices
    • Devil’s Ivy Open-Source Flaw Impacts Tens of Millions of IoT Devices
    • Nasty Bug Left Thousands of Internet of Things Devices Open to Hackers
    • Experts in Lather Over ‘gSOAP’ Security Flaw
    • Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

      There was a recent Cryptoparty Belfast event that was aimed at a wider audience than usual; rather than concentrating on how to protect ones self on the internet the 3 speakers concentrated more on why you might want to. As seems to be the way these days I was asked to say a few words about the intersection of technology and the law. I think people were most interested in all the gadgets on show at the end, but I hope they got something out of my talk. It was a very high level overview of some of the issues around the Investigatory Powers Act – if you’re familiar with it then I’m not adding anything new here, just trying to provide some sort of details about why it’s a bad thing from both a technological and a legal perspective.

    • [Old] “Super Malware” Steals Encryption Keys from Intel SGX Enclaves

      In a research paper published at the end of February, a team of five scientists from the Graz University of Technology has described a novel method of leaking data from SGX enclaves, a secure environment created by Intel CPUs for storing sensitive information for each process, such as encryption keys, passwords, and other.

      Starting with the Skylake line, Intel introduced a new hardware extension called SGX (Software Guard Extensions) that isolates the CPU memory at the hardware level, creating safe spaces where applications can store information that only they can write or read.

    • Avoiding TPM PCR fragility using Secure Boot

      In measured boot, each component of the boot process is “measured” (ie, hashed and that hash recorded) in a register in the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) build into the system. The TPM has several different registers (Platform Configuration Registers, or PCRs) which are typically used for different purposes – for instance, PCR0 contains measurements of various system firmware components, PCR2 contains any option ROMs, PCR4 contains information about the partition table and the bootloader. The allocation of these is defined by the PC Client working group of the Trusted Computing Group. However, once the boot loader takes over, we’re outside the spec[1].

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 56 — Devil’s Advocate and other fuzzy topics
    • New Linux Malware Exploits SambaCry Flaw to Silently Backdoor NAS Devices

      Almost two months ago, we reported about a 7-year-old critical remote code execution vulnerability in Samba networking software, allowing a hacker to remotely take full control of a vulnerable Linux and Unix machines.

      [...]

      Dubbed SHELLBIND, the malware works on various architectures, including MIPS, ARM and PowerPC, and is delivered as a shared object (.SO) file to Samba public folders and loaded via the SambaCry vulnerability.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Distributed energy sources can reduce cost of electricity up to 50%, study says

      Dramatic changes are coming to the old power grid. As infrastructure ages and policy dictates a move away from fossil fuels, utilities and governments are looking at Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) as potential alternatives to continually building out a centralized grid.

      DERs include all kinds of hardware that the utility may not necessarily own directly—solar panels, natural gas-fired microturbines, stationary batteries, and alternative cooling. Demand-response schemes, where a grid operator shifts electricity consumer use (usually through incentives) away from high-demand times, are also considered DERs.

      Planning for DERs makes grid management trickier than it was when a company simply built a huge new plant and connected a power line to it. Without a lot of data, it’s hard to know what kinds of energy resources will have the most impact economically and environmentally and what will be most cost-effective for utilities. But a trio of researchers from Stanford University is attempting to make this planning easier for utilities and policy makers to solve. The researchers published a paper in Nature Energy this week describing a program they built to model DER deployment in a way that will result in the lowest cost to grid operators.

  • Finance

    • Pressure mounting for US government to examine Amazon-Whole Foods accord

      It’s been a month since Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that he is buying the upscale Whole Foods Market grocery chain for $13.7 billion, or $42 a share, in an all-cash transaction.

      Now, opposition is mounting against the pending purchase. Proposed federal class-action shareholder lawsuits have been lodged to block the deal, arguing that it isn’t good for Amazon shareholders. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is complaining to the Federal Trade Commission that the accord would reduce competition, limit consumer choice, and kill jobs. And a member of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law is demanding congressional hearings.

    • When The ‘Sharing Economy’ Turns Into The ‘Missing Or Stolen Economy’

      Despite those failures, money continues to pour into the Chinese bicycle rental sector: last month, one of the leading startups, Mobike, announced $600 million in new funding, which it will use it to expand outside China. Let’s hope people there remember to bring the bikes back.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • From Sans Serif To Sans Sharif: #Fontgate Leads To Calls For Pakistan’s Prime Minister To Resign [Ed: Microsoft fonts]

      Some people get really worked up about fonts. Here, for example, is a thread on Reddit, spotted by Leigh Beadon, about the appearance of the serif font Cambria on the show “Better Call Saul”. The problem is that the show is set in the years 2002 and 2003, while Cambria was designed in 2004. The (mock?) outrage about this slip-up is all good fun, but obviously nothing too serious. Unlike in Pakistan, where another apparent font faux pas is leading to calls for the country’s prime minister to resign.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The US is reportedly close to separating military-focused Cyber Command from the NSA

      After a long debate, the United States is reportedly moving forward with plans to separate its military-focused Cyber Command branch from the National Security Agency. The changes could be announced in the coming weeks, according to the Associated Press.

    • Appeals Court Agrees Government Can Tell NSL Recipients To STFU Indefinitely

      The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just handed down a terrible decision in a fight against National Security Letter gag orders. The EFF has been working with plaintiffs Cloudflare and Credo Mobile to have these indefinite gag orders found unconstitutional.

    • DOJ Tells Court There No Need To Establish A Warrant Requirement For Stingray Devices

      The DOJ is in court arguing the use of Stingray devices by the FBI and local cops shouldn’t require a warrant. The government’s lawyers are fighting a suppression motion by Purvis Ellis, charged with racketeering and the attempted murder of a police officer.

      The events of the case happened in 2013, two years before the DOJ instructed federal agents to seek warrants when deploying Stingrays. For this investigation, the Oakland PD used a pen register order, as was the style at the time. (And perhaps still is. Despite the DOJ’s internal instructions, warrant requirements are all but nonexistent when it comes to local law enforcement agencies’ use of cell tower spoofers.)

    • Appeals court OKs secrecy of FBI national security data requests

      A federal appeals court is giving the Federal Bureau of Investigation a big boost when it comes to secretly investigating national security affairs. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld federal rules prohibiting companies from promptly disclosing to customers that the FBI is demanding a user’s private data with a National Security Letter (NSL).

      The FBI annually issues thousands of so-called NSLs to ISPs, financial institutions, and telephone companies. A judge’s signature is not required, and targets of NSLs cannot challenge them because they don’t know they exist.

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation, on behalf of Cloudfare and CREDO Mobile, brought a challenge to the gag orders under the First Amendment. They argued that the gag orders burdened the speech of companies that receive them. A federal judge in 2013 agreed and declared NSLs unconstitutional for that reason.

    • EU Looks To Prevent Employers From Viewing An Applicant’s Publicly Available Social Media Information

      Ever since social media sites like Facebook and Twitter became household names here in America, we’ve occasionally had really stupid debates about just what type of access to those accounts employers should get from their employees. Some states have even passed laws that would allow employers to demand social media passwords from employees and applicants, presumably so that company reps can comb through private messages and posts shared only with the employee’s or applicant’s friends. If all of that seems stupid to you, that’s because it totally is!

    • CBP Responds to Sen. Wyden: Border Agents May Not Search Travelers’ Cloud Content

      Border agents may not use travelers’ laptops, phones, and other digital devices to access and search cloud content, according to a new document by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP wrote this document on June 20, 2017, in response to questions from Sen. Wyden (D-OR).

    • EFF to Minnesota Supreme Court: Sheriff Must Release Emails Documenting Biometric Technology Use

      A Minnesota sheriff’s office must release emails showing how it uses biometric technology so that the community can understand how invasive it is, EFF argued in a brief filed in the Minnesota Supreme Court on Friday.

      The case, Webster v. Hennepin County, concerns a particularly egregious failure to respond to a public records request that an individual filed as part of a 2015 EFF and MuckRock campaign to track biometric technology use by law enforcement across the country.

    • Too much surveillance makes us less free. It also makes us less safe.

      After terrorist attacks in Boston, Orlando and Manchester, authorities informed the public that they “were aware” of the perpetrator months or even years before the violence occurred. Time and time again we learn that informants — clergy, neighbors, family members — filed reports with authorities, only to see those names end up on a never-ending list that, as journalists have shown, includes hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

      An intelligence system that is overextended is also ineffective and dangerous. As NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden argued, “We’re monitoring everybody’s communications, instead of suspects’ communications. That lack of focus has caused us to miss leads that we should’ve had.” Pointing to Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Snowden said, “If we hadn’t spent so much on mass surveillance, if we had followed the traditional models, we might’ve caught him.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • US whistle-blower Edward Snowden slams Hong Kong government for ‘campaign’ against lawyer of families who housed him

      Following news that the Immigration Department had filed complaints against Canadian barrister Robert Tibbo, Snowden took to Twitter a few hours later and wrote: “Hong Kong’s government is mounting a campaign to retaliate against the lawyer defending the families who helped me.”

      Before boarding a flight that ultimately stranded him in Russia, US National Security Agency contractor Snowden was introduced to the families by their mutual lawyer in Hong Kong. He hid in their homes for a couple of weeks in 2013, after leaking classified documents that revealed surveillance practices by the United States and other governments.

      Tibbo claimed on Monday that the local administration had “systematically made efforts” to remove him from the seven’s cases.

    • Tillerson to Shutter State Department War Crimes Office

      Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is downgrading the U.S. campaign against mass atrocities, shuttering the Foggy Bottom office that worked for two decades to hold war criminals accountable, according to several former U.S. officials.

      Tillerson’s office recently informed Todd Buchwald, the special coordinator of the Office of Global Criminal Justice, that he is being reassigned to a position in the State Department’s office of legal affairs, according to a former U.S. official familiar with the move. Buchwald, a career State Department lawyer, has served in the position since December 2015.

      The remaining staff in the office, Buchwald was told, may be reassigned to the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, the former official told Foreign Policy.

    • CIA Plans to Destroy Some of Its Old Leak Files

      The CIA is scheduled to begin destroying old records related to leaks of classified information in August unless critics convince the National Archives to scuttle the plan.

      The National Archives and Records Administration tentatively approved a CIA proposal to get rid of several types of records after 30 years. Along with leak-tied files, the record types include medical records, behavioral conduct files, security clearance information, personality files with counterintelligence interests, workers-compensation reports for employees posted overseas, and declassification and referral files.

    • An unsolved murder

      This time last year I was in Kenya for the Committee to Protect Journalists — following up on the death of a brave editor, John Kituyi, who died when someone broke his skull with a rock.
      This week it’s Ukraine — and the murder of another remarkable journalist, Pavel Sheremet. Blown up at a Kiev street junction nearly a year ago.
      In neither case have the killers been brought to justice
      That failure conveys a sense of impunity — that it’s ok to kill journalists. Or threaten them, or bully them, or intimidate them.
      This is not a new story. People in power have never liked journalists. They have always found ways of silencing them. But today, around the world, “silencing” increasingly doesn’t mean locking up; or menacing; or using repressive laws.

    • After Saudi airline imposes new security measures, laptop ban set to end

      The Transportation Security Administration has lifted its months-long in-cabin laptop ban, which has been relaxed in recent weeks as the mostly Middle Eastern airlines have boosted security in their home countries for flights bound for the United States.

      In March 2017, the Trump administration imposed notable restrictions on laptops and other large electronic items larger than a smartphone against nine airlines in an attempt to mitigate the risk of terrorist attacks.

    • De-Escalation Works, But US Law Enforcement Hasn’t Show Much Interest In Trying It

      Deescalation isn’t something most police officers want to talk about — especially those who allow their unions to do all their talking for them. But shootings by police have achieved critical mass, forcing the issue to be confronted by law enforcement officials. There are no national guidelines for force deployment. Local law enforcement agencies don’t have much in the way of best practices or standards, pretty much allowing officers to decide how much force is necessary on their own, relative to the amount of “reasonable fear” officers can later credibly swear to in court.

      [...]

      Over the past several days, police station CCTV video of a Bangkok police officer disarming a knife-wielding man has gone viral. Instead of greeting a threat with violence, Officer Anirut Malee greeted the potential attack with words… and neutralized the threat completely with a hug.

    • Disdainful of H-1Bs, Trump expands a different foreign worker visa

      President Donald Trump has said he’s going to set more limits on the H-1B visa program, which allows tens of thousands of technology workers into the US each year. But yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security moved to expand another type of visa, the H-2B, which allows lower-skilled workers in on a seasonal basis.

      The Department of Homeland Security said yesterday it is going to allow an additional 15,000 workers to come in under the H-2B visa category, which is typically used by US businesses in industries like tourism, construction, and seafood processing. The program normally allows for 66,000 visas, split between the two halves of the year. That means the DHS increase, announced yesterday, represents an increase of more than 40 percent for the second half of 2017.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Amazon wins review of new gTLD application

      An independent review panel has recommended that Icann review its decision denying Amazon’s applications for the .amazon gTLD, and corresponding gTLDs in Chinese and Japanese characters

    • Our Net Neutrality Comments To The FCC: We Changed Our Mind, You Can Too

      Earlier today, we published Mike Godwin’s excellent post about why why everyone should file a comment with the FCC about their views on net neutrality (and, again, we highly recommend reading Gigi Sohn’s excellent advice on what to include in your comment if you do). I see a lot of comments on that post with the defeatist and cynical response of “it doesn’t matter, Pai’s already decided what he’s going to do.”

      This is self-defeating, dumb and wrong for a variety of reasons. First, everyone was saying the same damn thing about Tom Wheeler three years ago, and that turned out to be wrong. Despite being a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries, and his initial indications that his proposed rules would be weak and allow all sorts of mischief, Wheeler was eventually convinced to go in a different direction. Second, this goes beyond just this current FCC. Even if (as is widely expected) Pai ignores these comments and reclassifies broadband anyway, there is still a court case that will follow — as well as Congress considering what to do. In both cases, having strong, clearly thought out arguments concerning net neutrality on the record that we can show Pai ignored will help possibly stop Pai’s plan from moving forward. Pai is not the end of the story.

    • Senator Wyden To FCC Chair Pai: Hey, Stop Lying About What I Said To Undermine Net Neutrality

      Yesterday we posted our comments to the FCC on net neutrality. Tons of others did as well, but I wanted to call out the comment submitted by Senator Ron Wyden. For two decades, Wyden has been a leading advocate of keeping the internet free from burdensome regulations, thus allowing tremendous innovation to occur. This echoes our position as well. However, both of us have advocated strongly for keeping the net neutrality rules in place. As we’ve pointed out, such rules are actually necessary in keeping the internet free and open — because access to the internet has become dominated by just a tiny handful of giant companies with a history of bad behavior towards consumers, and repeated statements about plans to defy the internet’s end-to-end principles.

    • FCC refuses to release text of more than 40,000 net neutrality complaints

      The Federal Communications Commission has denied a request to extend the deadline for filing public comments on its plan to overturn net neutrality rules, and the FCC is refusing to release the text of more than 40,000 net neutrality complaints that it has received since June 2015.

      The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request in May of this year for tens of thousands of net neutrality complaints that Internet users filed against their ISPs. The NHMC argues that the details of these complaints are crucial for analyzing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to overturn net neutrality rules. The coalition also asked the FCC to extend the initial comment deadline until 60 days after the commission fully complies with the FoIA request. A deadline extension would have given people more time to file public comments on the plan to eliminate net neutrality rules.

    • Comcast accuses net neutrality advocates of not “living in the real world”

      Comcast yesterday claimed that “the threat of Title II regulation” started harming broadband network investment in 2011—years before the US government decided to apply Title II regulations to broadband.

      Moreover, Comcast said that net neutrality proponents who claim that investment wasn’t hurt by the Title II rules “aren’t living in the real world.” This comes less than a week after Comcast accused net neutrality supporters of “creat[ing] hysteria.”

    • Apache httpd 2.2.15-60: underscores in hostnames are now blocked

      A minor update to the Apache httpd project on CentOS 6 had an unexpected consequence. The update from 2.2.15-59 to 2.2.15-60, as advised because of a small security issue, started respecting RFC 1123 and as a result, stops allowing underscores in hostnames.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • China Patents, Copyrights, and Works Made for Hire

      But legally, it’s as clear as mud. The “work for hire” doctrine actually only applies to copyrights. Patents are covered by the “hired to invent” and “shop rights” doctrines in the US, and by the “invention for hire” doctrine in China. And though the patent doctrines have some similarity with the respective copyright doctrines, they are not the same. Not even close.

      [...]

      This all sounds reasonably straightforward but a vast number of entities – including huge multinationals – still operate in China without proper agreements with their employees, let alone their “independent contractors.” These companies are essentially operating on the honor system, and sooner or later they’re going to pay by losing valuable rights.

    • Without Understanding What Traditional Knowledge Is, We Cannot Utilize It Appropriately

      For a long time, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions were timidly recognised as intellectual efforts worthy of legal protection. Of recent, indigenous peoples, local communities, and some governments have demanded the recognition of traditional forms of creativity and innovation as protectable intellectual property.

      [...]

      Uganda, according to the Uganda National Culture Policy [pdf], is endowed with a rich and diverse cultural heritage, which includes 65 indigenous communities with unique characteristics. The diversity contributes to a wealth of indigenous knowledge, languages, folklore, customs and traditions and products that can be harnessed for development.

      Two legislative acts directly address the legislation of TK in Uganda.

      According to the Uganda Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act [pdf], TK and folklore are part of works eligible for copyright protection.

      The other legislation for TK is mentioned in the Industrial Property Act, Section 21 (8), which calls for a mandatory disclosure requirement for all innovations that seek to be protected, “including any element of traditional knowledge associated or not with those resources.”

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Reaction to the Access Copyright ruling in Canada

        One observer calls Access Copyright v York University “potentially the most disruptive copyright decision we have ever seen in Canadian jurisprudence”. Issues to be resolved include what happens around a new tariff, how other universities will react and whether York will appeal

      • Latest EU Parliament Votes On Copyright: Fuck The Public, Give Big Corporations More Copyright

        The weird and persistently silly copyright reform process in the EU Parliament continues to get more and more bizarre and stupid. Last month, we told you about the first committee vote, which we feared would be terrible, but turned out to be only marginally stupid, as the worst parts of the proposal were rejected. Now, two more committees — the Culture and Education (CULT) and Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committees — have voted on their own reform proposals and the results are really, really bad if you support things like culture, education, research and the public. And, yes, I get the irony of the fact that the Culture and Education Committee in the EU just declared a giant “fuck you” to culture and education with its vote.

        Among the many problematic aspects approved by these committees is a filter requirement that would block users from uploading legally obtained media into the cloud. This makes no sense — especially given that the EU already has additional “you must be a pirate” taxes on situations where individuals are making copies of their legally acquired works.

      • George Romero, Zombies… And The Public Domain

        This is not, necessarily, an argument that all things must be in the public domain, but a reminder that — contrary to the claims of some — just because some stuff is in the public domain, or even just available for free, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to build real businesses and real creativity off of it. Romero was a film making genius in many, many ways — and the public domain helped his career greatly. It’s too bad we now deny that option to basically everyone else.

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