Someone Is Trying to Sell Those Stolen Three-Screen Razer Laptops in China

Just a few days ago, Razer’s awesome Project Valerie laptops — the one with three 4K displays — were stolen. Now it looks like whoever stole them is trying to sell them. From a report: It turns out that the thief (or thieves) didn’t just nab one Project Valerie prototype. They actually got ahold of a pair. Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan understandably wants them back, really, really badly. The company was willing to offer $25,000 to anyone who could offer information that led to the prototypes’ return. So where did the laptops end up? Somewhere behind the Great Wall, apparently. Whoever has them isn’t trying to quietly fence them in some dark Beijing alleyway, either. They’ve actually been listed on the immensely popular Chinese e-commerce site Taobao — where they were spotted by writers at Engadget Chinese and Wccftech.

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Source: SlashDot

Outgoing FCC chair Tom Wheeler uses his final public speech to make a case for maintaining net neutrality (Jacob Kastrenakes/The Verge)

Jacob Kastrenakes / The Verge:

Outgoing FCC chair Tom Wheeler uses his final public speech to make a case for maintaining net neutrality  —  The outgoing head of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, used his final public speech to make a closing argument for maintaining net neutrality, the signature achievement of his time at the agency.

Source: TechMeme

Europe prepares cyber defenses to protect elections from Russian interference

A general view shows the Spasskaya Tower and the Kremlin wall in central Moscow, Russia, May 5, 2016.

Nations in Europe, where Germany and France this year hold elections, are erecting defenses to counter possible Russian cyber attacks and disinformation to sway Western politics, but intelligence experts say this might be too little and too late.

The issue of Russian “influence operations” has taken on new urgency after U.S. intelligence agencies released a non-classified assessment that President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to move the U.S. election in favor of Donald Trump.

European nations and NATO are setting up centers to identify “fake news”, bolsteringcyber defenses and tracking use of social media which target Russian-speaking communities, far-right groups, political parties, voters and decision-makers.

Russia denies cyber warfare and Internet campaigns targeting Western governments. Kremlin watchers say affecting the U.S. election could bring reward for Moscow, while stakes would not be so high in German and French elections.

German intelligence officials, however, say there has been Russian support for euroskeptic, anti-immigrant parties in Germany and across the EU. Chancellor Angela Merkel said she could not rule out Russia interfering in this year’s election.

“We can’t exclude that operations of the same nature seen in the United States aim to disturb the French electoral system,” France’s Defence Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said in a recent interview. “I urge everyone to install the greatest vigilance.”

One senior European Union official, who declined to be named, said there was no doubt Moscow would bolster far-right and populist parties in elections across Europe in 2017. The official cited the triggering of a resounding “No” given to the EU planned association treaty with Ukraine in a Dutch vote.

“We see disinformation attacks before every vote that is of interest for the Kremlin,” a second EU source said. “Very often the vote that follows … turns out in favor of the Kremlin.”

State-sponsored television station Russia Today, active and expanding across Europe, plays a key role, but Moscow uses a range of avenues, including social media, as well as backing for non-governmental groups, Western intelligence experts say.

Off guard, mix of methods

Stefan Meister of the German Council on Foreign Relations said German intelligence agencies had been caught off guard.

“We have a whole mix of activities that neither the intelligence services nor the politicians can completely understand and categorize,” he said. “They’re just starting to understand it and find solutions.”

The EU foreign service is slated to expand a 30-person strategic communications office set up in March 2015 to counter what it sees as fake news and Russian campaigns for influence.

The second EU source said the effort was “a badly under-funded, tiny team with close to no support”, and added Brussels did not see Russian intervention as a priority.

Individual members are now setting up their own offices to monitor and respond to disinformation, including the Czech Republic, which set up a 20-member team on Jan. 1.

Berlin is considering an office to evaluate fake news, but that effort has already run into political concerns that the government is setting up a “truth ministry” that would limit free speech or influence national elections.

German intelligence cited the high-profile case of a German-Russian girl who Russian media said was kidnapped and raped by migrants in Berlin, a claim later refuted by German authorities. The case underscored mutual suspicion between Moscow and Berlin.

Some other countries banned Russian-language television from broadcasting for spreading disinformation or inciting hatred. Lithuania, Latvia, Britain, Estonia and Denmark have also urged the EU to create news sources for Russian speakers.

In Latvia, facing municipal elections in June, officials cite a barrage of propaganda aimed at 500,000 Russian speakers and a cooperation agreement between the pro-Russian opposition party Harmony with Putin’s United Russia party.

Lithuania this week said it had barred construction of a data center for cloud computer operations last year over concerns it could be infiltrated by Russian intelligence once it was connected by fiber-optic cable to Russia.

Solvita Aboltina, head of the national security committee in the Latvian parliament and a key national security adviser to the Latvian president, said the threat of cyber attacks was far greater than the risk of a military invasion.

“This a very important and urgent question on the agenda,” she said. “The American election is clear proof of that.”

NATO worries

Outside the political arena, there are worries in defense circles about the activities of hackers loyal to Putin, himself a former spy chief. NATO says it has seen a five-fold increase in suspicious events on its networks in the past three years.

German officials say a hack in December of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) used methods seen in a 2015 hack of the German parliament that was linked to APT28, a Russian hacker group, blamed for U.S. election hacks.

“We are already at war, and for many years,” Darius Jauniskis, head of Lithuania’s counter-intelligence State Security Department told Reuters in an interview.

Cyber security is a pressing concern for NATO, whose ambassadors discussed specific fears raised by Germany about Russian election interference in December, two diplomats said.

France and Germany recently set up cyber warfare units, and NATO officials have told Reuters they suspect Russia sponsors attacks against their networks before key summits.

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, Gederts Gelzis in Riga, Jan Lopatka and Robert Muller in Prague, Radu Marinas in Sofia, Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade, Tatiana Jancarikova in Bratislava, Thomas Escritt in Amsterdam, Jussi Rosendahl in Finland, John Irish in Paris, Christian Lowe in Moscow, Francesco Guarascio and Robin Emmott in Brussels, Krisztina Than and Marton Dunai in Budapest, David Mardiste in Tallinn, and Andrea Shalal and Andreas Rinke in Berlin, editing by Peter Millership)

Source: Venture Beat

SpaceX Accident Cost it Hundreds of Millions

Elon Musk’s SpaceX lost more than a quarter of a billion dollars in 2015 after a botched cargo run to the International Space Station and the subsequent grounding of its Falcon 9 rocket fleet, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. From a report: The accident derailed SpaceX’s expectations of $1.8 billion in launch revenue in 2016, an analysis of the privately held firm’s financial documents showed, according to the Journal, which said it had obtained the documents. SpaceX declined to comment on the Journal’s report. In a statement emailed to Reuters, SpaceX chief financial officer Bret Johnsen said the company “is in a financially strong position” with more than $1 billion in cash reserves and no debt.

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Source: SlashDot

Whatsapp bug allows viewing of encrypted messages

Whatsapp encryption broken

Whatsapp’s messaging app supposedly ensures strong end-to-end encryption, with the idea being that only the people involved in a conversation will ever be able to read the messages. But as it turns out, a programming bug — that Whatsapp has known about for some time and has not fixed — theoretically allows Whatsapp to snoop on any encrypted messages sent over the platform.

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Source: Boy Genius Report (BGR)

Congress Will Consider Proposal To Raise H-1B Minimum Wage To $100,000

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: President-elect Donald Trump is just a week away from taking office. From the start of his campaign, he has promised big changes to the US immigration system. For both Trump’s advisers and members of Congress, the H-1B visa program, which allows many foreign workers to fill technology jobs, is a particular focus. One major change to that system is already under discussion: making it harder for companies to use H-1B workers to replace Americans by simply giving the foreign workers a raise. The “Protect and Grow American Jobs Act,” introduced last week by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. and Scott Peters, D-Calif., would significantly raise the wages of workers who get H-1B visas. If the bill becomes law, the minimum wage paid to H-1B workers would rise to at least $100,000 annually, and be adjusted it for inflation. Right now, the minimum is $60,000. The sponsors say that would go a long way toward fixing some of the abuses of the H-1B program, which critics say is currently used to simply replace American workers with cheaper, foreign workers. In 2013, the top nine companies acquiring H-1B visas were technology outsourcing firms, according to an analysis by a critic of the H-1B program. (The 10th is Microsoft.) The thinking goes that if minimum H-1B salaries are brought closer to what high-skilled tech employment really pays, the economic incentive to use it as a worker-replacement program will drop off. “We need to ensure we can retain the world’s best and brightest talent,” said Issa in a statement about the bill. “At the same time, we also need to make sure programs are not abused to allow companies to outsource and hire cheap foreign labor from abroad to replace American workers.” The H-1B program offers 65,000 visas each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for foreign workers who have advanced degrees from US colleges and universities. The visas are awarded by lottery each year. Last year, the government received more than 236,000 applications for those visas.

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Source: SlashDot

Lyft, international partners will prompt users to install local apps while abroad, not allowing direct payment; source says firm is planning global expansion (Deirdre Bosa/CNBC)

Deirdre Bosa / CNBC:

Lyft, international partners will prompt users to install local apps while abroad, not allowing direct payment; source says firm is planning global expansion  —  In the ride-sharing battle of David vs Goliath, smaller, nimbler David may be gaining ground.  Number two U.S. ride-hailing company …

Source: TechMeme

Takata executives indicted by DoJ alongside $1 billion fine

Following recent news that an indictment and fine were nearly finalized, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced a $1 billion fine against Takata, the company behind faulty air bags. In addition to the fine, the Justice Department has indicted three company executives. Takata as a company will plead guilty to fraud. Though the news has just been publicized, the … Continue reading
Source: Slash Gear