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  • Critroni Crypto Ransomware Seen Using Tor for Command and Control

    Trailrunner7 writes There's a new kid on the crypto ransomware block, known as Critroni, that's been sold in underground forums for the last month or so and is now being dropped by the Angler exploit kit. The ransomware includes a number of unusual features and researchers say it's the first crypto ransomware seen using the Tor network for command and control.

    The Critroni ransomware is selling for around $3,000 and researchers say it is now being used by a range of attackers, some of whom are using the Angler exploit kit to drop a spambot on victims' machines. The spambot then downloads a couple of other payloads, including Critroni. Once on a victim's PC, Critroni encrypts a variety of files, including photos and documents, and then displays a dialogue box that informs the user of the infection and demands a payment in Bitcoins in order to decrypt the files.

    "It uses C2 hidden in the Tor network. Previously we haven't seen cryptomalware having C2 in Tor. Only banking trojans," said Fedor Sinitsyn, senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab, who has been researching this threat. "Executable code for establishing Tor connection is embedded in the malware's body. Previously the malware of this type, this was usually accomplished with a Tor.exe file. Embedding Tor functions in the malware's body is a more difficult task from the programming point of view, but it has some profits, because it helps to avoid detection, and it is more efficient in general."

    121 comments | 2 days ago

  • Math, Programming, and Language Learning

    An anonymous reader writes: There's often debate amongst modern programmers about how much math a professional developer should know, and to what extent programming is math. Learning to program is often viewed as being on a spectrum between learning math and learning spoken/written languages. But in a new article, Jeremy Kun argues that the spectrum should be formulated another way: Human language -> Mathematics -> Programming. "Having studied all three subjects, I'd argue that mathematics falls between language and programming on the hierarchy of rigor. ... [T]he hierarchy of abstraction is the exact reverse, with programming being the most concrete and language being the most abstract. Perhaps this is why people consider mathematics a bridge between human language and programming. Because it allows you to express more formal ideas in a more concrete language, without making you worry about such specific hardware details like whether your integers are capped at 32 bits or 64. Indeed, if you think that the core of programming is expressing abstract ideas in a concrete language, then this makes a lot of sense. This is precisely why learning mathematics is 'better' at helping you learn the kind of abstract thinking you want for programming than language. Because mathematics is closer to programming on the hierarchy. It helps even more that mathematics and programming readily share topics."

    238 comments | 4 days ago

  • Heinz Zemanek Passes At 94

    Knuckles writes Austrian computer pioneer Heinz Zemanek, the first person to build a fully transistorized computer on the European mainland, died in Vienna, aged 94 (link in German). Officially named Binär dezimaler Volltransistor-Rechenautomat (binary-decimal fully transistorized computing automaton), but known as "Mailüfterl", the computer was built in 1955 and in 1958 calculated 5073548261 to be a prime number in 66 minutes. Its power was comparable to a small tube computer of the time, and it measured 4 by 2.5 by 0.5 meters. "Mailüfterl" means "may breeze" in Viennese German and was a play on US computers of the time, like MIT's Whirlwind. 'Even if it cannot match the rapid calculation speed of American models called "Whirlwind" or "Typhoon", it will be enough for a "Wiener Mailüfterl"' (Viennese may breeze), said Zemanek. Mailüfterl contained 3,000 transistors, 5,000 diodes, 1,000 assembly platelets, 100,000 solder joints, 15,000 resistors, 5,000 capacitors and 20,000 meters switching wire. It was built as an underground project at and without financial support from the technical university of Vienna, were Zemanek was an assistant professor at the time. In 1961, Zemanek and his team moved to IBM, who built them their own lab in Vienna. In 1976, Zemanek became an IBM Fellow and stayed at IBM until his retirement in 1985. He was crucial in the creation of the formal definition of the programming language PL/I. The definition language used was VDL (Vienna Definition Language), a direct predecessor of VDM Specification Language (VDM-SL). He remained a professor in Vienna and held regular lectures until 2006.

    52 comments | 4 days ago

  • Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

    New submitter gthuang88 (3752041) writes In the 1990s, Microsoft was in position to own the software and devices market. Here is Nathan Myhrvold's previously unpublished 1997 memo on expanding Microsoft Research to tackle problems in software testing, operating systems, artificial intelligence, and applications. Those fields would become crucial in the company's competition with Google, Apple, Amazon, and Oracle. But research didn't do enough to make the company broaden its businesses. While Microsoft Research was originally founded to ensure the company's future, the organization only mapped out some possible futures. And now Microsoft is undergoing the biggest restructuring in its history. At least F# and LINQ saw the light of day.

    161 comments | 5 days ago

  • SRI/Cambridge Opens CHERI Secure Processor Design

    An anonymous reader writes with some exciting news from the world of processor design: Robert Watson at Cambridge (author of Capsicum) has written a blog post on SRI/Cambridge's recent open sourcing of the hardware and software for the DARPA-sponsored CHERI processor — including laser cutting directions for an FPGA-based tablet! Described in their paper The CHERI Capability Model: Reducing Risk in an age of RISC, CHERI is a 64-bit RISC processor able to boot and run FreeBSD and open-source applications, but has a Clang/LLVM-managed fine-grained, capability-based memory protection model within each UNIX process. Drawing on ideas from Capsicum, they also support fine-grained in-process sandboxing using capabilities. The conference talk was presented on a CHERI tablet running CheriBSD, with a video of the talk by student Jonathan Woodruff (slides).

    Although based on the 64-bit MIPS ISA, the authors suggest that it would also be usable with other RISC ISAs such as RISC-V and ARMv8. The paper compares the approach with several other research approaches and Intel's forthcoming Memory Protection eXtensions (MPX) with favorable performance and stronger protection properties.
    The processor "source code" (written in Bluespec Verilog) is available under a variant of the Apache license (modified for application to hardware). Update: 07/16 20:53 GMT by U L : If you have any questions about the project, regular Slashdot contributor TheRaven64 is one of the authors of the paper, and is answering questions.

    59 comments | about a week ago

  • Is the Software Renaissance Ending?

    An anonymous reader writes Writer and former software engineer Matt Gemmell adds his voice to the recent rumblings about writing code as a profession. Gemmell worries that the latest "software Renaissance," which was precipitated by the explosion of mobile devices, is drawing to a close. "Small shops are closing. Three-person companies are dropping back to sole proprietorships all over the place. Products are being acquired every week, usually just for their development teams, and then discarded. The implacable, crushing wheels of industry, slow to move because of their size, have at last arrived on the frontier. Our frontier, or at least yours now. I've relinquished my claim." He also pointed out the cumulative and intractable harm being done by software patents, walled-garden app stores, an increasingly crowded market, and race-to-the-bottom pricing. He says that while the available tools make it a fantastic time to develop software, actually being an independent developer may be less sustainable than ever.

    170 comments | about a week ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

    An anonymous reader writes: My niece, who is graduating from high school, has asked me for some career advice. Since I work in data processing, my first thought was to recommend a degree course in computer science or computer engineering. However, after reading books by Jeremy Rifkin (The Third Industrial Revolution) and Ray Kurzweil (How to Create a Mind), I now wonder whether a career in information technology is actually better than, say, becoming a lawyer or a construction worker. While the two authors differ in their political persuasions (Rifkin is a Green leftist and Kurzweil is a Libertarian transhumanist), both foresee an increasingly automated future where most of humanity would become either jobless or underemployed by the middle of the century. While robots take over the production of consumer hardware, Big Data algorithms like the ones used by Google and IBM appear to be displacing even white collar tech workers. How long before the only ones left on the payroll are the few "rockstar" programmers and administrators needed to maintain the system? Besides politics and drug dealing, what jobs are really future-proof? Would it be better if my niece took a course in the Arts, since creativity is looking to be one of humanity's final frontiers against the inevitable Rise of the Machines?

    507 comments | about a week ago

  • Interviews: Juan Gilbert Answers Your Questions

    Last week you had a chance to ask the Associate Chair of Research in the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department at the University of Florida, Juan Gilbert, about the Human Centered Computing Lab, accessibility issues in technology, and electronic voting. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.

    18 comments | about a week ago

  • Aereo Embraces Ruling, Tries To Re-Classify Itself As Cable Company

    An anonymous reader writes Rather than completely shuttering its TV-over-the-internet business, Aereo has decided to embrace the Supreme Court's recent decision against it. In a letter to the lower court overseeing the litigation between the company and network broadcasters, Aereo asks to be considered a cable company and to be allowed to pay royalties as such. Cable companies pay royalties to obtain a copyright statutory license under the Copyright Act to retransmit over-the-air programming, and the royalties are set by the government, not the broadcasters. The broadcasters are not happy with this move, of course, claiming that Aereo should not be allowed to flip-flop on how it defines itself.

    147 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Best Dedicated Low Power Embedded Dev System Choice?

    An anonymous reader writes "I'm a Solaris user which is not well supported by the OSS toolchains. I'd like to have a dedicated Linux based dev system which has good support for ARM, MSP430 and other MCU lines and draws very little (5-10 watts max) power. The Beaglebone Black has been suggested. Is there a better choice? This would only be used for software development and testing for embedded systems."

    183 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Will Google's Dart Language Replace Javascript? (Video)

    Seth Ladd, Google Web engineer and Chrome Developer Advocate, is today's interviewee. He's talking about Dart, which Wikipedia says is 'an open-source Web programming language developed by Google.' The Wikipedia article goes on to say Dart was unveiled at the GOTO conference in Aarhus, October 10–12, 2011, and that the goal of Dart is 'ultimately to replace JavaScript as the lingua franca of web development on the open web platform.' A bold aim, indeed. Last month (June, 2014), InfoWorld ran an article by Paul Krill headlined, Google's Go language on the rise, but Dart is stalling. Seth Ladd, unlike Paul Krill, is obviously rah-rah about Dart -- which is as it should be, since that's his job -- and seems to think it has a growing community and a strong place in the future of Web programming. For more about Dart, scroll down to watch Tim Lord's video interview with Seth -- or read the transcript, if you prefer. (Alternate Video Link)

    180 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

    theodp (442580) writes Over at Alarming Development, Jonathan Edwards has an interesting rant entitled Developer Inequality and the Technical Debt Crisis. The heated complaints that the culture of programming unfairly excludes some groups, Edwards feels, is a distraction from a bigger issue with far greater importance to society.

    "The bigger injustice," Edwards writes, "is that programming has become an elite: a vocation requiring rare talents, grueling training, and total dedication. The way things are today if you want to be a programmer you had best be someone like me on the autism spectrum who has spent their entire life mastering vast realms of arcane knowledge — and enjoys it. Normal humans are effectively excluded from developing software. The real injustice of developer inequality is that it doesn't have to be this way." Edwards concludes with a call to action, "The web triumphalists love to talk about changing the world. Well if you really want to change the world, empower regular people to build web apps. Disrupt web programming! Who's with me?" Ed Finkler, who worries about his own future as a developer in The Developer's Dystopian Future, seconds that emotion. "I think about how I used to fill my time with coding," Finkler writes. "So much coding. I was willing to dive so deep into a library or framework or technology to learn it. My tolerance for learning curves grows smaller every day. New technologies, once exciting for the sake of newness, now seem like hassles. I'm less and less tolerant of hokey marketing filled with superlatives. I value stability and clarity."

    608 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

    itwbennett writes: Python has surpassed Java as the top language used to introduce U.S. students to programming and computer science, according to a recent survey posted by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Eight of the top 10 computer science departments now use Python to teach coding, as well as 27 of the top 39 schools, indicating that it is the most popular language for teaching introductory computer science courses, according to Philip Guo, a computer science researcher who compiled the survey for ACM."

    415 comments | about two weeks ago

  • The World's Best Living Programmers

    itwbennett (1594911) writes "How do you measure success? If it's by Stack Overflow reputation, Google engineer Jon Skeet is the world's best programmer. If it's winning programming competitions, Gennady Korotkevich or Petr Mitrechev might be your pick. But what about Linus Torvalds? Or Richard Stallman? Or Donald Knuth? ITworld's Phil Johnson has rounded up a list of what just might be the world's top 14 programmers alive today."

    285 comments | about two weeks ago

  • KDE Releases Frameworks 5

    KDE Community (3396057) writes The KDE Community is proud to announce the release of KDE Frameworks 5.0. Frameworks 5 is the next generation of KDE libraries, modularized and optimized for easy integration in Qt applications. The Frameworks offer a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. There are over 50 different Frameworks as part of this release providing solutions including hardware integration, file format support, additional widgets, plotting functions, spell checking and more. Many of the Frameworks are cross platform and have minimal or no extra dependencies making them easy to build and add to any Qt application. Version five of the desktop shell, Plasma, will be released soon, and packages of Plasma-next and KDE Frameworks 5 will trickle into Ubuntu Utopic over the next few days. There's a Live CD of Frameworks 5 / Plasma-next, last updated July 4th.

    87 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Book Review: Data-Driven Security: Analysis, Visualization and Dashboards

    benrothke writes There is a not so fine line between data dashboards and other information displays that provide pretty but otherwise useless and unactionable information; and those that provide effective answers to key questions. Data-Driven Security: Analysis, Visualization and Dashboards is all about the later. In this extremely valuable book, authors Jay Jacobs and Bob Rudis show you how to find security patterns in your data logs and extract enough information from it to create effective information security countermeasures. By using data correctly and truly understanding what that data means, the authors show how you can achieve much greater levels of security. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

    26 comments | about two weeks ago

  • IEEE Spectrum Ranks the Top Programming Languages

    An anonymous reader writes Working with computational journalist Nick Diakopoulos, we at IEEE Spectrum have published an app that ranks the popularity of dozens of programming languages. Because different fields have different interests (what's popular with programmers writing embedded code versus what's hot with web developers isn't going to be identical) we tried to make the ranking system as transparent as possible — you can use our presets or you can go in and create your own customized ranking by adjusting the individual weightings of the various data sources we mined.

    197 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Does Google Have Too Much Influence Over K-12 CS Education?

    theodp writes:Google recently announced Global Impact Awards for Computer Science, part of the company's $50 million investment to get girls to code. But Google's influence over K-12 CS education doesn't stop there. The Sun-Times reports that Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers are participating in a summer professional development program hosted by Google as part of the district's efforts to "saturate" schools with CS within 3 years: "The launch of CS4All [Computer Science for All], in partnership with Code.org and supported by Google, starts this fall in 60 CPS schools to try to bridge the digital divide and prepare students." And in two weeks, the Computer Science Teachers Association [CSTA] and Google will be presenting the National Computer Science Principles Education Summit. "Attendees at this event have been selected through a rigorous application process that will result in more than 70 educators and administrators working together to strategize about getting this new Advanced Placement course implemented in schools across the country," explains CSTA. The ACM, NSF, Google, CSTA, Microsoft, and NCWIT worked together in the past "to provide a wide range of information and guidance that would inform and shape CS education efforts," according to the University of Chicago, which notes it's now conducting a follow-up NSF-funded study — Barriers and Supports to Implementing Computer Science — that's advised by CPS, CSTA, and Code.org.

    66 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Famo.us: Do We Really Need Another JavaScript Framework?

    An anonymous reader writes Front-end developer Jaroen Janssen has a post about Famo.us, "a custom built JavaScript 3D rendering and physics engine meant as a replacement for the standard layout engine of the browser." The engine effectively replaces a big chunk of HTML5 in order to render more efficiently by using technology based on WebGL. Janssen questions whether the world really needs another JavaScript framework: "Is it a bad thing that Famo.us replaces major parts of HTML5? To be honest, I'm not sure. As a Front-end developer I have to admit it makes me slightly uneasy to have to use a custom API instead of 'standard' HTML5. On the other hand, like almost everyone that makes web apps for a living, I have been terribly frustrated by some of HTML5 limitations, like slowness and browser incompatibilities. Either way, it might be a good thing to try a fundamentally different approach so I'm keeping an open mind for now.

    Famo.us chases another holy grail, namely the 'write once, run anywhere' dream. Instead of having to write different code for different platforms, like iOS and Android, developers can write one application that works and looks as good on all platforms, in theory anyway. This of course saves a huge amount of time and resources. Unfortunately, this idea is not without its problems and has never really worked very well with earlier attempts like Java-applets, Flash and Silverlight. In the end native applications have so far always been faster and slicker and I'm pretty skeptical Famo.us will be able to change this."

    104 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Damian Conway On Perl 6 and the Philosophy of Programming

    M-Saunders writes: Perl 6 has been in development since 2000. So why, 14 years later, hasn't it been released yet? Linux Voice caught up with Damian Conway, one of the architects of Perl 6, to find out what's happening. "Perl 6 has all of the same features [as Perl 5] but with the rough edges knocked off of them", he says. Conway also talks about the UK's Year of Code project, and how to get more people interested in programming.

    132 comments | about three weeks ago

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