Archdiocese of Seattle targeted by data theft, causes annoyances

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Mar 15, 2014 1:29 PM CDT

A data breach suffered by the Archdiocese of Seattle is now being investigated by the FBI and IRS, as personal information stolen has reportedly been used for false tax returns, so criminals can take the refunds.

Students from the Seattle Bishop Blanchet High School were released early on Friday, with school administrators hoping to give faculty and volunteers the ability to go home and check their IRS and credit reports. Students at the O'Dea High School had Friday off so administrators could try to further evaluate the data breach.

The Archdiocese of Seattle has created an online portal for those concerned following the data breach. Also, they recommend calling the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit: 1-800-908-4490, ext. 245 to learn if tax identity theft has occurred.

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Scientists create pill that make 1000 years flash before your eyes

Anthony Garreffa | Health, Lifestyle & Travel | Mar 15, 2014 6:39 AM CDT

Prison inmates doing life sentences might not be good enough in the future, with scientists from Oxford University exploring new controversial technologies that would see them extending human life, in a way.

Their research could see prison firms developing drugs that make time pass slowly, something that could make an inmate feel like they're living out consecutive life sentences - lasting up to 1000 years. Dr Rebecca Roache spoke with Aeon magazine, where she said: "Some crimes are so bad they require a really long period of punishment, and a lot of people seem to get out of that punishment by dying."

Dr Roache used the example of two parents murdering their own four-year-old son, saying that the 30-year sentence they received was "laughably inadequate." In her Practical Ethics blog, Dr Roache notes that the parents would receive a humane treatment, unlike their son. She wrote: "They will, for example, be fed and watered, housed in clean cells, allowed access to a toilet and washing facilities, allowed out of their cells for exercise and recreation."

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Russian government blocks four opposition sites criticizing Putin

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Mar 15, 2014 4:20 AM CDT

President Vladimir Putin's government has reportedly banned four websites operated by Kremlin opponents and critics. Opponent Alexei Navalny had his website blocked for Russian Internet users, along with online newspaper Grani, an opposition information website, and a radio station website (despite it being state-operated).

The Russian government defended its actions by saying the websites helped organize "illegal" protests, according to reports in the region. Navalny is serving a two-month house arrest punishment because he violated five-year probation for an embezzlement-related charge.

Over the past two years, Putin has continually put the squeeze on media outlets located in his country - most recently, the editor of Lenta.ru, a major Russian independent news site, resigned due to increased pressure from Moscow.

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Valve's latest Steam Controller now looks more like a controller

Anthony Garreffa | Peripherals | Mar 14, 2014 11:31 PM CDT

Days before the Game Developers Conference kicks off in San Francisco, Valve sent its latest Steam Controller prototype to WIRED. The new controller was meant to feature a touchscreen in the center, with four buttons around it, but the new one still doesn't feature a touchscreen.

Instead, it has morphed into more of a traditional console controller, with two diamond-shaped arrays of buttons. It looks (at least in the picture) a little more comfortable than the first Steam Controller, but I would've liked to have seen a touchscreen on the controller. The circular touchpads are still in play, which match both the precision and resolution of a mouse, giving gamers more precision than traditional controllers.

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McAfee makes Antivirus & Security free for Android and iOS

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Mar 14, 2014 10:06 PM CDT

Intel-owned McAfee wants to keep mobile users more secure by offering its Antivirus & Security suite available to Apple iOS and Google Android users.

There are plenty of free software products available designed for smartphones and tablets, but paid versions provide a more complete suite. The McAfee Labs collected 2.47 million Android malware samples in 2013, with 744,000 in Q4 alone.

"With India placed on the tip of mobile device explosion, there is an overwhelming need of adoption of security and privacy protection in our digital lives," said Jagdish Mahapatra, McAfee Managing Director in India, in a statement. "With free access to our award-winning mobile security product, Indian consumers will be empowered to access all the benefits of this connected world and enjoy a safe mobile life."

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SolidFire announces enterprise enhancements in upcoming OS release

Kalen Kimm | IT/Datacenter & Super Computing | Mar 14, 2014 7:33 PM CDT

SolidFire, the Boulder, Colorado based manufacturer of all-flash storage systems has announced Q2 2014 availability of Carbon, Version 6 of its Element OS. Included in this upcoming release is a whole new set of enterprise class features such as real-time replication and integrated backup & restore.

SolidFire is providing this upgrade for free to existing customers including all the new enhancements. The new features included are:

  • Integrated backup and restore to secondary storage, including any object storage that supports the S3 or Swift APIs

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    Target missed multiple warnings of major data breach underway

    Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Mar 14, 2014 6:26 PM CDT

    Popular retailer Target had multiple warnings that a credit and debit card breach was underway, but still didn't do enough to try and stop the problem.

    A recent series of interviews with more than 10 former Target employees, and a handful of people familiar with the attack indicate the company was aware of a data breach underway - and the alert system worked - signaling malware was installed before being publicly disclosed.

    "I don't think it is about not paying attention to the technologies as much as fine tuning for actionable, relevant information from the technology," said Joe Schumacher, Neohapsis security consultant, in a statement to SCMagazine. "Many security systems (e.g. Web application firewall, log monitoring, intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems, etc.) correlate large amounts of data into a single repository. Unfortunately, a lot of companies and professional services stop here."

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    This plasma arc speaker is way cooler than your expensive Hi-Fi setup

    Charles Gantt | Modding | Mar 14, 2014 4:48 PM CDT

    At some point, I am sure that most of us have fantasized about being the stereotypical mad scientist who spends his days in a lab filled with chemical experiments and electricity arcing from one source to the other. While most of us will never make it to this point in our scientific endeavors, we can have a cool device that sends arcs of electricity shooting from one electrode to another, and have it play music at the same time.

    A new Kickstarter campaign from ExcelPhysics is offering kits that let backers build their own speakers that emanate sound by using nothing but the plasma generated when electricity arcs from one electrode to another. "A plasma speaker plays music just like your normal speaker but it uses an arc of electrical plasma running at 30,000 volts," the company said on its Kickstarter page. "Most people aren't aware that plasma arcs can be modulated to generate sounds so your friends will be in for a surprise when you explain to them that the plasma arc IS the speaker! Your typical speaker uses an electromagnet to vibrate small drums, but a plasma speaker uses an electrical arc to ionize and compress the air around it to play music, all with no moving parts!"

    The Plasma Speaker works by plugging in an audio source such as your smartphone, laptop, or radio. The audio input is converted into a pulse that causes an arc of high-votage electricity to jump from one electrode to another, and the audio is reproduced as sound waves emanating from the plasma. This is definitely one Kickstarter I am backing, and you should too. Head over to the source link below for more information.

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    First curved coins from USMint unveiled, commemorate Baseball HoF

    Charles Gantt | Business, Financial & Legal | Mar 14, 2014 1:59 PM CDT

    Traditionally coins minted in the US have a very distinctive round and flat shape, but a new release from the US Mint has all but shattered that pattern. A new commemorative design will soon roll out that honors the National Baseball Hall of Fame's 75th birthday in the form of the country's first curved coin. The round coin takes the profile of a baseball and is featured in both gold and silver mintings.

    The coins profile and design are loosely based on the curved shape of the International Year of Astronomy coins minted by France back in 2009, as well as Australia's Southern Cross coins. Designed by California Artist, Cassie McFarland, the coins feature a baseball on the front and a catchers mitt on the reverse. Her winning "Hand full of Gold" design was chosen from a pool of 178 entries and was based off of a baseball glove she used as a kid.

    "Raised loving the native pastime, a glove assisted me not only as a tool, but helped foster communication between my family and peers," she wrote in her submission. "It is a fundamental symbol for teamwork and camaraderie." Up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 $1 silver coins and 750,000 half-dollar coins will be minted, and will cost an extra $35, $10 and $5 each, which will go toward funding the Baseball Hall of Fame's non-profit operations.

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    Check out this dual Arduino Micro XPlorerBoard on Kickstarter

    Charles Gantt | Modding | Mar 14, 2014 12:53 PM CDT

    Electronic education kits were one of the highlights of my youth, and I spent many hours attaching resistors, wires and other components together via those little shiny springs. Today with microcontroller boards such as the Arduino being as cheap as they are, educational electronic kits have taken on a whole new look, and ease of use. The Portable Dual Arduino Micro XPlorerBoard is one of those new easy to use educational electronic boards.

    Featuring support for two Arduino Micro boards, the XPlorerBoard makes life easy by eliminating loose parts, and adding in very handy features such as a 3V and 5V logic level converter, on-board power supply, and a full compliment of analog and digital sensors. Since the XPlorerBoard was designed for education, the entire board is coated in an anti-static coating and all of the leads on the bottom are protected as well.

    The entire board along with accessories fits neatly into a standard binder as well, making the board portable and easy to carry to class or your favorite MakerSpace. The XPlorerBoard is being offered through a KickStarter campaign right now and appears to be one of the best value educational development kits on the market at the moment. Best of all, the XPlorerBoard is a product of Savanna, Georgia, and not too far from my home town!

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