Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo on Friday reports USA Today. The filing came after the exchange shutdown earlier in the week fearing a breach of security that resulted in the loss of 750,000 bitcoins.
Mt. Gox was once the worlds largest exchange for the controversial, virtual currency. At its height it claimed to handle nearly 80 percent of all bitcoin transactions, according to a NBC News story.
Appearing in court on Friday, Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles confirmed that a hacking attack resulted in the loss of 750,000 users’ bitcoins as well as 100,000 of the company’s. At current prices that would amount to about $425 million. Such a loss puts Mt. Gox’s debt at $65 million, a figure which surpasses its assets said Teikoku Databank, a firm that monitors bankruptcies, in an AP story carried by ABC News.
Bitcoins were developed in 2009 as a virtual currency that allowed users to make transactions across international borders without using third parties such as banks or credit cards. The use of the currency had been catching on recently as sites like Overstock.com began accepting it. Such acceptance had spurred speculation and values of bitcoins had begun to fluctuate wildly.
The failure does not come as a surprise to many officials. "No one recognizes them as a real currency," said Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso. "I expected such a thing to collapse.”
Last year China banned the currency and Vietnam recently followed suit amid the troubles at Mt. Gox.
Proponents of the currency, though, are hopeful that Bitcoin can survive the recent troubles and emerge stronger.
Yang Weizhou, analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. in Tokyo said the bankruptcy filing highlights the need for government regulations to stabilize virtual currencies. Weizhou predicted there would be lawsuits from users who suffered losses in the recent hack and further predicted that such virtual currencies are here to stay.
“It is undeniable," she said. "One must separate the Mt. Gox problem from the overall concept."
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam redefined "net neutrality" earlier this week when he claimed the phrase meant that companies like his should charge people more money to access the Internet, which was built with government funds.
In reality, "net neutrality" means an open web where Internet service providers (such as Verizon) treat all web traffic and web sites equally without favor or penalty.
“We make our money by carrying traffic," McAdam said in a conference call with investors on Monday, noted The Huffington Post. "I think it is only natural that the heavy users help contribute to the investment to keep the web healthy. That is the most important concept about net neutrality."
McAdam may have been referring to charging users who watch films on services such as Netflix, but according to Motherboard.com, 26 million Americans currently cannot afford basic Internet access.
According to a report in 2013 by the New America Foundation, Americans already pay more for slower Internet services than many developed nations.
While McAdam wants others to pay, he did not mention that Verizon has not paid federal income taxes from 2008 to 2012, thanks to corporate welfare and special tax breaks, according to a recent report by Citizens for Tax Justice, noted Reuters.
A researcher has built a huge 3D printer capable of building a house in 24 hours and, possibly, of revolutionizing the construction industry.
Business Insider reports that Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis at the University of Southern California has already built the technology, complete with a nozzle that dispenses concrete. The robot builds a house based on a set computer pattern.
Khoshnevis told MSN that the technology is “basically scaling up 3D printing to the scale of building.” Dubbed Contour Crafting, the robot replaces construction workers with its super-efficient capacities, which can churn out a 2,500-square-foot home in just a day.
The printer will not eliminate jobs, Khoshnevis said, but ultimately create them. And it could provide people around the world with affordable housing.
“At the dawn of the 21st century [slums] are the condition of shelter for nearly one billion people in our world,” said Khoshnevis. “These buildings are breeding grounds for disease a problem of conventional construction which is slow, labor intensive and inefficient.”
As Khoshenevis pointed out, buildings are about the only things these days that have to be constructed by hand. Construction is a slow, laborious, expensive, and dangerous process. The Iranian-born professor foresees workers laying down rails for the robot to operate — and letting the computer take over. The nozzle would spray concrete to create hollow walls, then fill the walls with additional concrete. Manpower would be required “to hang doors and insert windows.”
Khoshenevis even shipped off a prototype to NASA back in 2005, according to an article in Discover magazine. The agency wants to explore the possibilities of constructing buildings on the moon from lunar dust.
The latest report from Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept hit the Internet this morning and contained slides using a term made popular by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones during mass-shootings and the Boston terror attack: "false flag operation." While the newly released NSA slides don’t even remotely use the term in the same way as Jones, it is surprising to see it on actual, secret government documents. The slides are from a presentation given to the NSA and other intelligence agencies by the Government Communications Headquarters in Britain and outline how it deals with online protestors or “hacktivists.”
In this case, however, “false flag operation” is not about staging a disastrous event in the real world in order to take away your guns or haul you off to FEMA camps but instead is a calculated effort by U.S. intelligence agencies to discredit a person who has not been tried or convicted of any crime.
Like Alex Jones, these people are often only guilty of expressing themselves espousing “false and damaging ‘conspiracy theories’ about the government,” according to Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law professor and “close Obama adviser.” These “false flag” operations involve posting damning content online and then attributing it to the person they are trying to discredit. The slides also outline covert operations in online chat rooms and the old spy standby “the honeypot” or luring the target to a place on the internet or in the real world with promises of sex.
Despite what people may think of hacktivists — like those with 4Chan or Anonymous — their method of protest is not actually hacking. Instead, they essentially flood a site with traffic so that it goes offline for a time. No data is lost or retrieved and all it does is cause a little inconvenience to the site’s users. In fact, unless the site loses more than $5000 in business (or the denial of service attack actually causes physical harm to someone), it’s not even illegal.
As Greenwald says, “Whatever else is true, no government should be able to engage in these tactics: what justification is there for having government agencies target people – who have been charged with no crime – for reputation-destruction, infiltrate online political communities, and develop techniques for manipulating online discourse?”
A Clay County, Fla. teacher is in hot water after posting some undeniably racist comments about a dead student on Facebook. The comments were directed at Jordan Davis, a Florida teenager who was shot and killed by Michael Dunn after Dunn complained about the teen’s loud music. A jury ruled Dunn killed Davis in self-defense.
In the hours following Dunn's trial, Davis' mother, Lucia McBath, gave a speech in which she said, “We’ll continue to wait for justice for Jordan.” Excerpts from the speech and a photograph of McBath made their way on to Facebook. There, hundreds of sympathetic readers offered condolences to McBath and her family.
But in the midst of heartfelt statements of support, a woman named Susan Wright found room to spew hate.
“She had a thug for a son,” one comment said. Wright followed that statement with another comment reading, “Hope the black boy burns in hell.”
Now, we all know ignorant people exist in the world. As disturbing as Wright’s sentiments are, they are not unusual. What is unusual, though, are statements like this coming from someone in Wright’s role in the community. She is a teacher in the Clay County school district.
Many parents are uncomfortable with Wright’s role as a teacher after seeing her rhetoric on Facebook.
"How do I know that I can trust my child to be around her or someone else can trust their child to be around her with the attitude that she's harboring?” one parent asked.
The Clay County school district is investigating the comments. Jacksonville news station WTEV went to Wright’s residence in hopes of speaking with her. Her husband answered the door and was short on words. He denied his wife ever wrote the comments on Facebook – a statement that is demonstrably false.
“She didn't make any comments about Jordan Davis and his mother,” he said. Susan Wright refused to speak with WTEV.
The attorney representing the Davis family hopes the Clay County School District will conduct a thorough investigation of Wright’s comments and react appropriately.
"We hope the school system takes a serious look at Ms. Wright's character if she indeed has so offensively and prejudicially judged Jordan Davis,” the attorney said. “If she made these posts, her ability to maintain a position of judgment over children is in serious question."
With the preponderance of the use of satellite technology—from broadcasting television to providing walking directions to people’s smartphones—one would imagine that the area just above the atmosphere is cluttered with them. However, there are less than 3000 satellites up there doing “a job.”
There are between 20,000-35,000 objects spiraling around the Earth at any given time, mostly debris from space missions. In order to keep a better eye on all of that stuff whirling above our heads, the U.S. Air Force recently declassified their plan to launch a satellite system for just that purpose.
Called a “neighborhood watch” satellite by General William Shelton, the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program “will supplement ground-based radars and optical telescopes in tracking” both space-debris and the activities of foreign satellites, according to Reuters. While the GSSAP will monitor the positions of purposeful satellites in order to avoid collisions with space junk—which travels at about 17,000 miles-per-hour—it will also remain on guard for satellites that are trying to avoid detection, perhaps for the purposes of monitoring U.S. interests or other clandestine activities.
The GSSAP are scheduled to go up in the last quarter of 2014 on an unmanned Delta 4 rocket, and critics wonder why the U.S. government declassified the program and effectively informed “our enemies” of this satellite’s capabilities. Yet, according to Brian Weeden, technical advisor with the Secure World Foundation and quoted by Reuters, that is precisely what the Obama Administration intended. He says they are “being more honest when [they say] it declassified this program to try and deter attacks on U.S. satellites.”
Rather than catching adversaries or, worse, allies attempting to interfere with our national satellite system, the White House prefers to simply let everyone know that they have the ability to monitor the satellites closely.
A Maryland man is suing the Ethiopian government after it was discovered that it infected his computer with spyware, wiretapped his calls made via Skype, and monitored his family’s computers for months.
"We have clear evidence of a foreign government secretly infiltrating an American's computer in America, listening to his calls, and obtaining access to a wide swath of his private life," said Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Nate Cardozo. "The current Ethiopian government has a well-documented history of human rights violations against anyone it sees as political opponents. Here, it wiretapped a United States citizen on United States soil in an apparent attempt to obtain information about members of the Ethiopian diaspora who have been critical of their former government. U.S. laws protect Americans from this type of unauthorized electronic spying, regardless of who is responsible."
This case is part of a larger operation by the Ethiopian government to spy on people it believes are political opponents. The man, who goes by Mr. Kidane in order to protect his family, reportedly opened a Microsoft Word document that was sent to him, and upon opening the document, his computer became infected.
“I would be extremely hesitant to continue to seek legal redress in this case should I be denied this request to proceed pseudonymously, as I fear the litigation would put my life and the lives of my family at substantial risk,” said Mr. Kidane. The man, who is originally from Ethiopia, won political asylum 22 years ago and has lived in Silver Spring, Md., ever since.
"The problem of governments violating the privacy of their political opponents through digital surveillance is not isolated – it's already big and growing bigger," said Electronic Frontier Foundation Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Yet despite the international intrigue and genuine danger involved in this lawsuit, at bottom it's a straightforward case. An American citizen was wiretapped at his home in Maryland, and he's asking for his day in court under longstanding American laws."
Reports claim that Ethiopia is not alone in spying on the activity of perceived opponents to its government.
Mozilla announced Sunday that it will begin making $25 phones in a chip deal with Spreadtrum.
The company made the announcement in a press release before the kick-off of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Mozilla, a non-profit, will be turning to mobile OS with smartphone capabilities with a focus on developing markets and global carriers looking for a third option, Forbes reported.
Mozilla launched its Mobile OS in 2012. Then Chinese manufacturer ZTE announced it would collaborate with the company on an open software-based device.
“It’s all part of our wider plans to create a better balance of products using various operating systems. We won’t just rely on Android or Windows,” said ZTE Director of Corporate Branding & Communications David Dai Shu.
Firefox OS is slated to move into Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama this year as Telefonica expands to those countries. Deutsche Telekom will contribute markets in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Macedonia and Montenegro.
While Windows has targeted the lower-end of the mobile market, Mozilla may be emerge the victorious underdog, according to Forbes.
A couple of days ago, iPhone users may have been alerted about a software update that was newly available. The updated software, iOS 7.0.6, came with one line of description: “This security update provides a fix for SSL connection verification.”
While carrying out a software update can be cumbersome and is often pushed aside by users, this particular update provides an important remedy to a major security flaw in Apple’s devices.
According to Forbes, the update fixes a bug in the software code that makes the majority of Apple’s applications easily susceptible to eavesdroppers and hijackers. iOS users on a public WiFi network could easily tap into and/or control various apps due to Apple's improper implementation of SSL encryption prior to the update, Wired reports.
The fiasco is being referred to as “gotofail” by the online tech security community because the security flaw was exposed simply by Apple developers improperly using a “goto” command in the software’s code. The developers accidentally typed two subsequent lines of the string “goto fail” in the wrong spot of code, which essentially causes programs such as Safari to bypass online authentication checks. Although the coding language is difficult to understand, the actual mistake was as simple as a single typo.
Although Apple’s most recent software update provided a fix for its Safari web browser, other applications may still be at risk. Private tech researchers and security experts have been investigating the situation and claim that third-party apps such as Twitter might also be affected by the security flaw.
Apple is reportedly investigating the situation, but users should continue to watch for software updates. Additionally, you can check whether you should be concerned at gotofail.com, a website designed to alert users whether or not they are at risk as a result of the exposed security flaw.
Mozilla recently angered many of its users by announcing that it would start placing ads on its popular Internet browser, Firefox.
According to TechDirt.com, the nonprofit organization kept banging away on that sour note by announcing its new "Directory Tiles" that will feature ads and recommended or popular websites on a new tabs page on Firefox (sample pictured).
"Directory Tiles will instead suggest pre-packaged content for first-time users," Mozilla's VP Darren Herman said in a statement. "Some of these tile placements will be from the Mozilla ecosystem, some will be popular websites in a given geographic location, and some will be sponsored content from hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla’s pursuit of our mission. The sponsored tiles will be clearly labeled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy."
While speaking to AdAge.com, Herman even slammed the present Firefox, which users have loved for years, as being a "dumb window."
"Mozilla is moving from a dumb window to the internet to a smart agent on behalf of the user, putting the user first," said Herman.
Mozilla's general counsel and head of the business affairs group Denelle Dixon-Thayer also slammed Firefox for being a "window into the web."
"We wanted to get away from being this window into the web that doesn't bring value," Dixon-Thayer told CNET. "We looked at it from the perspective of how much value are we bringing to the user? We're not focused on bringing the most revenue into Mozilla."
Sources: CNET, AdAge.com, Mozilla.org, TechDirt.com