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Biting the hand that feeds IT — sci/tech news and views for the world

Slack slings crypto-keys at big biz, union gets worked over, VPN owners probed, trolls trouble vets, and more

Plus, two crooks craft a veritable fraudocopia

Roundup  This week we got freaked out about heart implant hacks, welcomed a new Microsoft security tool, and endured yet another Facebook fsck up.…

Posted on 24 March 2019 | 10:34 am

Uncle Sam's disaster agency FEMA creates disaster of its own: 2.3 million survivors' personal records spilled

Org does to privacy what hurricanes did to your house

Disaster relief org FEMA has admitted, conveniently on a Friday night, to accidentally leaking banking details and other personal information of 2.3 million hurricane and wildfire survivors.…

Posted on 23 March 2019 | 1:12 am

US prosecutors whack another three charges on list against ex-Autonomy boss Mike Lynch over $11bn HP biz gobble

What interesting timing

US prosecutors have slapped three more criminal charges on ex-Autonomy chief exec Mike Lynch, accusing him of securities and wire fraud regarding HP's acquisition of his company.…

Posted on 23 March 2019 | 12:37 am

Security storm brewing for Oracle Java-powered smart cards: More than a dirty dozen flaws found, fixes... er, any fixes?

Vuln hunters warn malicious applets can bust through protections, snoop on or hijack access gizmos

Bug hunters say Oracle's Java Card platform is host to a dozen and a half security flaws that could place smart-cards and similar embedded devices using the tech at risk of hijacking.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 10:08 pm

Google sparks online outcry after its currency converter goes haywire for third time this year

Someone get that old FDIV-bugged Pentium out of web giant's servers

What's that old saying? Ah, yes, it's right here in Google's corporate handbook: never apologize, never explain.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 8:57 pm

Netflix wants to choose its own adventure where Bandersnatch trademark case magically vanishes

Asks judge to toss sueball from branching-plot book publisher

Netflix is adamant that the path of its Bandersnatch trademark lawsuit should be for the judge to throw the case out. How does El Reg respond?…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 7:29 pm

Not quite the Bake Off they were expecting: Canadian seniors served weed-infused brownies

Mummy, why is Gramps talking to that tree?

Ontario oldsters were left dazed and confused after munching their way through a succulent platter of cannabis-laced chocolate brownies.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 7:01 pm

Facebook's at it again: Internal emails show it knew about Cambridge Analytica abuse 'months' before news broke

No lie, says Zuck and co, it was a separate data thing that we forgot to mention

Comment  Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica's dodgy data-gathering practices at least four months before they was exposed in news reports, according to internal FB emails.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 6:44 pm

Falling NAND prices to drive NVMe SSD uptake, say industry watchers

Flash! Servant of the universe

The great NAND flash price slump will accelerate the uptake of SSD storage, industry sources have predicted, with PCIe/NVMe SSDs possibly accounting for half of the market by the end of the year.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 6:03 pm

Debate around Huawei espionage fears in UK about as clear as those darn Brexit negotiations

Digital secretary responds to Commons Science and Technology Committee, sort of

Considering the state of political discourse in Britain, it comes as little surprise that the government has no idea whether it should follow allies and start banning certain foreign firms – most notably Huawei – from national telecommunications infrastructure projects.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 5:04 pm

Campaigners cry foul over NHS Digital plans to grant policy wonks and researchers access to patient-level data

Using private info for funding decisions branded 'toxic'

"Rich" and "granular" patient data from hospital and GP records could be shared with policymakers and researchers under new plans from NHS Digital.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 4:33 pm

Children of Wales to be prepped for the vibrant world of work with free Office 365 ProPlus

We'll keep an Excel in the hillside, we'll keep on coding in the Vales

The best part of half a million students in Wales will be able to get their hands on a free copy of Office 365 ProPlus as the Welsh Assembly lobs cash Redmond's way.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 4:04 pm

TV piracy ring walks the plank after Euro cops launch 14 raids and shutter 11 data centres

Illegal streaming gang served up sports from 800 channels

A taskforce led by Spanish cops has dealt TV piracy a heavy blow after shuttering a network of illegal sports streaming sites operating across Spain, the UK, Denmark, Latvia, the Netherlands and Cyprus.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 3:01 pm

Pre-checked cookie boxes don't count as valid consent, says adviser to top EU court

You can't assume active participation from someone who didn't untick something

Requiring someone to uncheck a pre-ticked box doesn't count as valid cookie consent under EU law, the adviser to the bloc's top court has said.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 2:00 pm

Russian sailors maroon themselves in Bristol Channel after drunken dinghy ride goes awry

Flat Holm island holm to foolish trio for one long, cold morning

Ah, the sea! The salty spray, the sunlight sparkling off the bay... but three foolhardy Russian sailors anchored near Minehead, southwest England, clearly fancied a change of scenery – to their misfortune.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 12:59 pm

Oracle spaffed $30bn on buybacks over the past 9 months, but analysts warn it can't last forever

Big Red in net debt for first time in over a decade – reports

Amid stalling growth, analysts have warned that Oracle can't indefinitely repurchase stock to maintain its share price.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 12:37 pm

Top personnel general joined Capita months after firm won its Army recruiting IT contract

Hire was rubber-stamped by sleeping watchdog

The general overseeing British Army recruitment joined Capita shortly after the company won its "disastrous" Recruiting Partnership Programme (RPP) with the Ministry of Defence.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 11:50 am

O2 brings forth a Friday fail for some unlucky UK customers

Voice services go TITSUP* to round out the week

Updated  The UK's O2 mobile network knocked off early for the week today as some customers found themselves unable to use voice services.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 11:17 am

Terrified of network downtime? Connectivity collapse? Let analytics banish fear of outages

Cisco says assurance solution will be just the ticket

Promo  Infrastructure failure is a major cause of concern for enterprises, incurring huge costs in troubleshooting and a multiplicity of monitoring tools.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 10:45 am

Altered carbon: Boffins automate DNA storage with decent density – but lousy latency

An entire data centre the size of a sugar cube? Sweet!

Scientists in the US, working alongside Microsoft, have managed to encode "hello" into a readable strand of synthetic DNA, using a fully automated data storage system.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 10:32 am

UK.gov admits it was slow to intervene in Verify's abject failure to meet user targets

We might not have signed up users, but at least we created a standard. It only cost £154m...

UK.gov has admitted it was slow to intervene as it failed to meet “overambitious” targets for the adoption of Verify, and has been accused of splashing £154m on creating an open standard for the identity service.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 9:55 am

What's holding up the 5G utopia in Britain? Quite a lot, actually

Views from the morning after the night before

Special Report  5G is like an all-night drunken brainstorm in which the world's brainiest telecoms boffins went wild, and really let rip. The morning after is a real headache.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 9:15 am

Chap joins elite support team, solves what no one else can. Is he invited back? Is he f**k

But he did get a $50 cheque, a piece of acrylic and a fuzzy glow that lasted for years

On Call  Reading On Call, El Reg's weekly instalment of readers' tale of support triumphs large and small, is the best way to start your Friday.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 8:04 am

Our amazing industry-leading AI was too dumb to detect the New Zealand massacre live vid, Facebook shrugs

Even when it had a copy, it still couldn't stop 300,000 copies from appearing on its site

Facebook admitted, at best nonchalantly, on Thursday that its super-soaraway AI algorithms failed to automatically detect the live-streamed video of last week's Christchurch mass murders.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 7:38 am

Hey, what's Mandarin for 'WTF is going on?' Nokia phones caught spewing device IDs to China, software blunder blamed

Maker insists the privacy cock-up has been fixed, mostly

An undisclosed number of Nokia 7 Plus smartphones have been caught sending their identification numbers to a domain owned by a Chinese telecom firm.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 6:56 am

We fought through the crowds to try Oculus's new VR goggles so you don't have to bother (and frankly, you shouldn't)

Rift S adds some technology... but not enough

Hands-On  It's the annual Games Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, where the great and the good from the games industry converge to show off their new products.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 6:03 am

LOL EPA OIG NDA WTF: Eco-watchdog's auditors barred from seeing own agency's cloud security report by gagging order

Peak US govt bureaucracy locks investigators out of files covering '180' vulnerabilities

Lest you think working for Uncle Sam in Washington DC is glamorous or in any way enviable, behold this stunning achievement in bureaucratic cock-up, or perhaps conspiracy.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 1:37 am

Don't have a heart attack but your implanted defibrillator can be hacked over the air (by someone who really wants you dead)

US govt sounds alarm over wireless comms, caveats apply

Medical gear maker Medtronic is once again at the center of a hacker panic storm. This time, a number of its heart defibrillators, implanted in patients' chests, can, in certain circumstances, be wirelessly hijacked and reprogrammed, perhaps to lethal effect.…

Posted on 22 March 2019 | 12:25 am

'Sharing of user data is routine, yet far from transparent' is not what you want to hear about medical apps. But 2019 is gonna 2019

Study finds Android software slinging deets all over the place

Folks using healthcare-related Android apps: after you've handed over your private details to that software, do you know where it is sending your data? If you don't, nobody should blame you. It turns out it can be a complicated and obfuscated affair.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 11:23 pm

Autopilot engineer drove off to Chinese rival with our top-secret blueprints in the glovebox, Tesla claims in sueball

Figuratively speaking... Source code for cruise-control system allegedly uploaded to iCloud

Tesla today sued ex-employee Guangzhi Cao for allegedly stealing the source code for the leccy car maker's Autopilot software.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 8:16 pm

Super-crook admits he nicked $122m from Facebook, Google by sending staff fake invoices for tech kit

Evaldas Rimasauskas will pay back $50m, faces years in clink for phony hardware bill scam

A Lithuanian citizen extradited to the US has admitted bilking $122m from Facebook and Google by sending the tech giant's staff bogus invoices for computer gear.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 7:43 pm

Let's spin Facebook's Wheel of Misfortune! Clack-clack-clack... clack... You've won '100s of millions of passwords stored in plaintext'

Credentials logged for years is antisocial network's latest Zuck-up

Facebook today admitted it stored "some" of its addicts' account passwords in a plaintext readable format. For "some", read hundreds of millions.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 5:52 pm

Kaspersky Lab takes bite out of Apple in Russia over borked parental controls app

Store policy removed key features, alleges complaint

Antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab has lodged a complaint about Apple with the Russian competition authority.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 5:15 pm

Memory glut crisis almost over, weeps Micron as Q2 results crank shares up 8%

A rising tide lifts all boats – Samsung, SK Hynix saw increases too

US chip slinger Micron has said that the end of memory oversupply issues is in sight, and demand for DRAM silicon will begin growing again later this year, especially in the cloud and data centre markets.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 4:29 pm

Live Regcast: Ex-CISO and coal-face engineer Scott King shares his advice on becoming a pragmatic security leader

The balancing act of strategy and tactics revealed

Promo  What does it take to reach a leading role in the security field? There are different paths to take to get there: some go directly from analyst to leadership, others have a more technical background in general IT, or excellent tactical skills acquired in a consultancy or vendor role.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 3:45 pm

Brit Police Federation cops to ransomware attack on HQ systems

Sort-of union for bobbies has triggered criminal investigation

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), a sort-of trade union for police workers, has been battling to contain a ransomware strike on the group's computer systems, it confessed this afternoon.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 3:22 pm

New phisherman's friends and a few old favourites slither out of WatchGuard's Security Report

New entry in network attack hit parade: That 2017 Cisco WebEx flaw you patched already (right?)

Attacks targeting a years-old – and patched – vulnerability in a Chrome extension for Cisco's WebEx are on the increase, according to security outfit WatchGuard.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 2:20 pm

Brekkie TV host Lorraine Kelly wins IR35 ruling against HMRC, adds fuel to freelance techies' ire over tax reforms

Pint-sized Scottish squawker wins tribunal appeal over £1.2m tax bill

Obsequious breakfast TV host Lorraine Kelly has become an unlikely champion for the UK's freelance techies battling IR35 legislation – after a tribunal ruled she did not owe a £1.2m tax bill as she was not an ITV employee.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 1:52 pm

Overheard at a Brit mobe network: On the count of Three UK, smile and say, er... we lost how many customers?

Never mind, we've got a fistful of spectrum and 5G's a-coming...

Hutchison's Three UK network lost 44,000 active customers last year, but saw its revenue increase slightly to £2.439bn from £2.425bn.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 12:55 pm

'It's full of beer!' Miracle fridge reveals itself to pals tuckered out from cleaning flooded cabin

Sometimes life is pretty A-OK

"I need a beer" is a phrase often uttered universally after a hard day's slog. But having cool, crisp refreshment fall into your lap as if by magic is something most of us can only dream of.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 12:18 pm

Brit Parliament online orifice overwhelmed by Brexit bashers

Conspiracy theories abound as UK petitions website enjoys a Thursday TITSUP*

Updated  When will lawmakers ever learn? Whenever the electorate is given a choice, they are bound to do something silly. In this case, overloading the UK Parliament's petition site with signatures on a Brexit-stopping suggestion.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 11:34 am

Cloudera sets its sights on $1bn revenues after Hortonworks slurp gave Wall Street the willies

CMO talks post-merger relationships, open-source spats

Interview  Cloudera said it plans to become the darling of Wall Street in 18 months, in part by breaking into the $1bn turnover club. This promise comes a week after the company reported widening losses and sales that missed analysts forecasts, sending its share price down by almost a fifth.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 10:59 am

New phone who dis? Facial recognition models more farcical despite progress

AI doesn't always work as well as you'd expect in real life

GTC  AI systems have superior abilities at recognising faces in theory, but when they're deployed in practice they often fail miserably.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 10:37 am

Azure thing at last: Windows Virtual Desktop takes to the cloudy stage

Reg talks to Microsoft as it finally pulls covers from new virty toy, reveals Win 10, apps and, er, 7?

Windows Virtual Desktop has finally arrived, in preview form that is, and three months after the public preview was supposed to have begun.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 9:45 am

Windows Defender ATP is dead. Long live Microsoft Defender ATP

Redmond's anti-malware now coming to a Mac near you

Microsoft nudged the Windows brand further out of the limelight today by thwacking its anti-malware package with the rebranding stick. Behold, Microsoft Defender ATP.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 9:13 am

Don't become another expensive statistic: Learn how to tackle cyber-criminals, at SANS London next month

Training classes will cover all security angles

Promo  As data thieves and hackers become more inventive, and more destructive, learning how to protect networks from attack and threats is zooming up organizations' lists of priorities.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 8:02 am

Who pressured WHO to put gaming on a par with drug addiction to help silence political dissent? Oh hi there, China

Devs point finger at Beijing for framing pastime as an illness – and how the West could follow

At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, representatives of the International Game Developer Association (IGDA) warned that the World Health Organization (WHO) decision to treat computer gaming as a disorder on par with gambling and drug addiction represents a threat to free speech protections.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 6:54 am

DRAM, bam, thank you Sam: Like a Flashbolt from the blue, Samsung flaunts its fastest RAM

410GB/s per package. We repeat, 410GB/s per package

Samsung has unveiled a new generation of high-bandwidth DRAM chips called Flashbolt.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 6:08 am

Carolina coward fesses up: I was a tech support scambag, and I made millions out of defrauding the elderly

You're free to bash the Bishap

A man has pleaded guilty in America to a single felony count for his role in a $3m tech support scam operation.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 2:13 am

Stop us if you're getting deja-vu: Uber used spyware to nobble dial-a-ride rival, this time Down Under, allegedly

Aussie media claims Silicon Valley giant used surveillance tool to torpedo competitor

Uber has once again been accused of using spyware tools to help it undermine a competing business.…

Posted on 21 March 2019 | 12:40 am