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What USB Has Replaced (And What it Hasn't) ( 72

An anonymous reader writes with a story at Ars Technica about the evolution thus far of USB as an enabling technology: Like all technology, USB has evolved over time. Despite being a 'Universal' Serial Bus, in its 18-or-so years on the market it has spawned multiple versions with different connection speeds and many, many types of cables. A casual search around the shelves by my desk shows that I've got at least 12 varieties, and that's not even counting serial and PS/2 adapters. What have you replaced with USB?

How Cisco Is Trying To Prove It Can Keep NSA Spies Out of Its Gear ( 130

itwbennett writes: A now infamous photo [leaked by Edward Snowden] showed NSA employees around a box labeled Cisco during a so-called 'interdiction' operation, one of the spy agency's most productive programs,' writes Jeremy Kirk. 'Once that genie is out of the bottle, it's a hell of job to put it back in,' said Steve Durbin, managing director of the Information Security Forum in London. Yet that's just what Cisco is trying to do, and early next year, the company plans to open a facility in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina where customers can test and inspect source code in a secure environment. But, considering that a Cisco router might have 30 million lines of code, proving a product hasn't been tampered with by spy agencies is like trying 'to prove the non-existence of god,' says Joe Skorupa, a networking and communications analyst with Gartner.
Wireless Networking

An Algorithm To Facilitate Uber-Style Dynamic Phone Tariffs ( 75

An anonymous reader writes: A new paper proposes an algorithm to help network providers furnish 'surge' pricing for mobile data and other network communications, citing a 50% shortfall between demand and capacity over the next five years as an indicator that consumers may have to be shepherded out of the congested times and areas in order for normal service to continue to be maintained. Just don't tell any of the people in charge of airport wireless networks.

Bluetooth 2016 Roadmap Brings Fourfold Range Increase and Mesh Networking ( 29

An anonymous reader writes: The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced its roadmap for Bluetooth Smart in 2016, promising a fourfold range increase in the low-energy, IoT-oriented version of the protocol, along with dedicated mesh networking, a 100% increase in speed and no extra consumption of energy. The last set of upgrades to the protocol offered direct access to the internet and security enhancements. Since Bluetooth must currently contend with attacks on everything from cars to toilets, the increased range means that developers may not be able to rely on 'fleeting contact' as a security feature quite as much.

The Dark Net Drug Market That Survived Ukraine's Civil War ( 15

Patrick O'Neill writes: As Ukraine holds on to an increasingly delicate peace, the country remains divided by armed troops. There is, however, at least one thing that moves reliably through the cities and across dangerous borders: illegal drugs sourced from the Dark Net. While the rest of the country's economy has cratered, online criminal enterprises have survived and offered a living. PsyCo, short for Psychedelic Community, is a hyperlocal market that offers delivery in hours in cities like Kiev.
The Almighty Buck

Dorms For Grownups: a Solution For Lonely Millennials? 412 writes: Alana Semuels writes in The Atlantic that Millennials want the chance to be alone in their own bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens, but they also want to be social and never lonely.That's why real estate developer Troy Evans is starting construction on a new space in Syracuse called Commonspace that he envisions as a dorm for Millennials. It will feature 21 microunits, each packed with a tiny kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space into 300-square-feet. The microunits surround shared common areas including a chef's kitchen, a game room, and a TV room. "We're trying to combine an affordable apartment with this community style of living, rather than living by yourself in a one-bedroom in the suburbs," says Evans. The apartments will be fully furnished to appeal to potential residents who don't own much (the units will have very limited storage space). The bedrooms are built into the big windows of the office building—one window per unit—and the rest of the apartment can be traversed in three big leaps. The units will cost between $700 and $900 a month. "If your normal rent is $1,500, we're coming in way under that," says John Talarico. "You can spend that money elsewhere, living, not just sustaining."

Co-living has also gained traction in a Brooklyn apartment building that creates a networking and social community for its residents and where prospective residents answer probing questions like "What are your passions?" and "Tell us your story (Excite us!)." If accepted, tenants live in what the company's promotional materials describe as a "highly curated community of like-minded individuals." Millennials are staying single longer than previous generations have, creating a glut of people still living on their own in apartments, rather than marrying and buying homes. But the generation is also notoriously social, having been raised on the Internet and the constant communication it provides. This is a generation that has grown accustomed to college campuses with climbing walls, infinity pools, and of course, their own bathrooms. Commonspace gives these Milliennials the benefits of living with roommates—they can save money and stay up late watching Gilmore Girls—with the privacy and style an entitled generation might expect. "It's the best of both worlds," says Michelle Kingman. "You have roommates, but they're not roommates."
The Internet

Comcast Expanding Data Cap Locations, Training Reps To Avoid Subject ( 264

An anonymous reader sends news that Comcast is about to expand its 300GB data cap to more cities in the Southeastern U.S. "Newly capped areas include Little Rock, Arkansas; Houma, LaPlace, and Shreveport, Louisiana; Chattanooga, Greeneville, Johnson City, and Gray, Tennessee; and Galax, Virginia." This happened at the same time organizations are calling on the FCC to investigate Comcast for this practice. A helpful Comcast employee decided to leak the internal training on how Comcast plans to message these data caps to consumers. For example, they direct their representatives to tell customers that areas without a data cap actually have a 250GB cap, but it just isn't being enforced. They even suggest avoiding the term "cap," instead preferring "usage plan." There's also this: "If a customer calls in with any questions associated with the usage policy and how it relates to Net Neutrality, Netflix or observations about how XFINITY services are or are not counted relative to third party services, do not address these items with the customer."
United Kingdom

Controversial New UK Internet Powers Bill Makes No Mention of VPNs ( 115

An anonymous reader writes: The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill presented by the UK Home Secretary Theresa May to Parliament today has caused controversy because it proposes new legislation to force UK ISPs to retain an abbreviated version of a user's internet history for a year, and would also oblige vendors such as Apple not to provide consumer-level encryption that the vendor cannot access itself in accordance with a court order. But perhaps the most surprising aspect of DIPA is that Virtual Private Networks are mentioned nowhere in its 299 pages, even though VPNs are a subject of great interest to Europe, Russia, Iran, China and the United States.

Book Review: the Network Security Test Lab: a Step-by-Step Guide 19

benrothke writes: It wasn't that long ago that building a full network security test lab was an expensive prospect. In The Network Security Test Lab: A Step-by-Step Guide, author Michael Gregg has written a helpful hands-on guide to provide the reader with an economical method to do that. The book is a step-by-step guide on how to create a security network lab, and how to use some of the most popular security and hacking tools. Read below for the rest of Ben's review.

How a Group of Rural Washington Neighbors Created Their Own Internet Service ( 94

An anonymous reader writes with a story that might warm the hearts of anyone just outside the service area of a decent internet provider: Faced with a local ISP that couldn't provide modern broadband, Orcas Island residents designed their own network and built it themselves. The nonprofit Doe Bay Internet Users Association (DBIUA), founded by [friends Chris Brems and Chris Sutton], and a few friends, now provide Internet service to a portion of the island. It's a wireless network with radios installed on trees and houses in the Doe Bay portion of Orcas Island. Those radios get signals from radios on top of a water tower, which in turn receive a signal from a microwave tower across the water in Mount Vernon, Washington.
The Internet

Cuba's Internet Routing Is Messed Up 64

Internet access in Cuba has gotten far better in the last year, thanks in large part to thawing relations between Cuba's government and the U.S. In the case of a censorship-heavy, technology-impaired regime, though, "better" doesn't necessarily mean good. Northwestern engineering professor Fabián E. Bustamante and graduate student Zachary Bischof decided to quantify the performance of Cuban internet connections, and found them "perhaps even worse than they expected," with regards to routing in particular. Reader TheSync writes with this excerpt: During their study, Bustamante and Bischof found that when a person in Havana searched for a topic on Google, for example, the request traveled through the marine cable to Venezuela, then through another marine cable to the United States, and finally landed at a Google server in Dallas, Texas. When the search results traveled back, it went to Miami, Florida, up to the satellite, and then back to Cuba. While the information out of Cuba took 60-70 milliseconds, it took a whopping 270 milliseconds to travel back.

Univ. of New Haven Cyber Lab: WhatsApp Collects Phone Numbers, Call Duration, and More 67

An anonymous reader writes: A recent network forensic examination of popular messaging service WhatsApp at the University of New Haven's Cyber Forensics Research & Education Group is offering new details on the data that can be collected from the app's network from its new calling feature: such as phone numbers and phone call duration, and highlights areas for future research and study. The researchers provided an outline of the WhatsApp messaging protocol from a networking perspective, making it possible to explore and study WhatsApp network communications. (Also noted at The Register.)
The Military

Russian Presence Near Undersea Cables Concerns US ( 273

An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times reports that the presence of Russian ships near important, undersea internet cables is raising concern with U.S. military and intelligence officials. From the article: "The issue goes beyond old Cold War worries that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West's governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.
Just last month, the Russian spy ship Yantar, equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba — where one major cable lands near the American naval station at Guantánamo Bay. It was monitored constantly by American spy satellites, ships and planes. Navy officials said the Yantar and the submersible vehicles it can drop off its decks have the capability to cut cables miles down in the sea. What worries Pentagon planners most is that the Russians appear to be looking for vulnerabilities at much greater depths, where the cables are hard to monitor and breaks are hard to find and repair.


Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over iOS Wi-Fi Assist ( 212

An anonymous reader writes: A class-action suit has been filed against Apple in U.S. District Court over Wi-Fi Assist being turned on by default in iOS 9. Wi-Fi Assist is designed to switch to cellular data when a user is trying to perform an action over the internet on a poor Wi-Fi signal. This has the natural side effect of using cellular data. Since iOS 9 turned it on for many users, they weren't necessarily expecting that extra use, causing some of them to exceed their data caps. A former Apple employee who was in a leadership position for Mac OS X Wi-Fi software has commented on the issue, saying that the Wi-Fi Assist mess was unavoidable given how Apple's management treats that part of the business.

Quoting :"[O]ne particular directorial edict which I pushed back against at the end of my tenure sticks out as not just particularly telling, but deeply misguided: 'Make it self-healing.' Self healing in this context meaning that the networking system, Wi-Fi in particular, should try to correct problems that caused the network to fail, which, if you have spent any time trying to diagnose networking issues is a clear misunderstanding of the issues involved. ... Asking the devices which connect to this vast complex network of networks to detect, and then transparently fix problems in the infrastructure without the permission of the administrators is, well, it's absolutely the pinnacle of buzzword driven product management. Real pointy-haired boss territory."


European ISPs Exaggerate Performance; US ISPs Slower But More Honest ( 113

itwbennett writes: New studies of broadband Internet access across Europe and the U.S. published by the European Commission have found that European broadband Internet access providers advertised download speeds of 47.9 Mbps, but only delivered 38.19 Mbps, while U.S. providers delivered more or less what they advertised. But if you want fast fixed-line Internet access, you're still better off in Europe than in the U.S. Average DSL, fiber, and cable Internet speeds in Europe were all ahead of U.S. average speeds, and at lower prices.

HP To Shut Down Its OpenStack Based Public Cloud ( 89

An anonymous reader writes: Hewlett-Packard, which has been backing off on ambitious public cloud plans for a year, is now calling it quits, sunsetting HP Helion Public cloud in January 2016. in a buzzword-laden blog post, the company says its building out support for interoperability with Amazon and Microsoft public cloud offerings to provide options for customers who require such functionality. "HP’s decision is the latest milestone in what has been a slow fade for the company’s public cloud ambitions. It has become increasingly clear that there are three, maybe four companies that can support (at scale) the massive shared computing, networking, and storage infrastructure necessary for a public cloud. ... HP will continue pushing its private and hybrid cloud."

Europe's 'Net Neutrality' Could Allow Throttling of Torrents and VPNs ( 161

An anonymous reader writes: TorrentFreak reports that the European Parliament is approaching a vote on new telecom regulations that aim to implement net neutrality throughout EU member states. Unfortunately, the legislation hinges on a few key amendments, and experts are warning about the consequences should those amendments fail to pass. "These amendments will ensure that specific types of traffic aren't throttled around the clock, for example. The current language would allow ISPs to throttle BitTorrent traffic permanently if that would optimize overall 'transmission quality.' This is not a far-fetched argument, since torrent traffic can be quite demanding on a network." That's not the only concern: "Besides file-sharing traffic the proposed legislation also allows Internet providers to interfere with encrypted traffic, including VPN connections. Since encrypted traffic can't be classified though deep packet inspection, ISPs may choose to de-prioritize it altogether."
Data Storage

Not Just Paris: Community Activists Target Data Centers ( 151

1sockchuck writes: This week's case in which a Paris data center lost its license isn't an isolated incident, but the latest in a series of disputes in which community groups have fought data center projects, citing objections to generators or power lines. Data center site selection is often a secretive process, with cloud builders using codenames to cloak their identity. Community groups are using social media, blogs, research and media outreach to bring public attention to the process and voice their concerns. Protests from a Delaware group led to the cancellation of a data center project that planned to build a cogeneration plant. In Virginia, a coalition has organized to oppose a power line for an Amazon Web Services data center. Everyone wants their Internet, just not in their backyard.

Sprint Will Start Throttling Customers Who Exceed 23GB Monthly ( 153

CNET reports (and CTO John Saw explains on the company's blog) that Sprint has decided to taper access to a slice of its "unlimited" wireless data customers, by throttling access (not curtailing it, at least) to those who slurp down more than 23 gigabytes per month -- the same cap that T-Mobile has imposed. If you think "throttled" and "unlimited" don't quite jibe to describe the same service, you're not the only one to quibble: CNET notes that regulators have "begun scrutinizing the carriers' practice [of slowing access past a cap]. In June, the Federal Communications Commission threatened to fine AT&T $100 million for deceiving its customers by mislabeling its service as unlimited. The FCC also challenged Verizon when the company planned to expand its data throttling policy to its 4G customers. The company retracted that policy last fall. In June, Verizon also stopped slowing unlimited-data traffic for 3G customers."