Proof-of-concept ransomware locks up the PLCs that control power plants

In Out of Control: Ransomware for Industrial Control Systems, three Georgia Tech computer scientists describe their work to develop LogicLocker, a piece of proof-of-concept ransomware that infects the programmable logic controllers that are used to control industrial systems like those in power plants. Read the rest

A trip to the domain name conference

Ingrid Burrington thought of domain names as "a very niche genre of experimental poetry, one in which radical constraints (availability, brevity, the cadence of an interrupting “dot”) produce small, densely packed pockets of internet magic." At a conference for domainers--the dot.whatever squatters and salesfolk and speculators--she learned that it's more a matter of alchemy.

...brevity is typically a good move, though memorable phrases are also effective. Some TLDs are hot right now (.io), and some single words are always a good investment (lotions.com, furs.com), but good TLDs and good words together don’t always work (as was explained to the owner of furs.io and lotions.io in one session). Long-time domainers also had oddly specific advice—”Hyphens make your domain less valuable—unless you’re in Germany” and “.info is a dead zone.”

Domainers are generally a short-sighted crowd. Lotions.io might be worthless by itself, but one person dedicating themselves day and night to the thorough and remorseless blogging of all the lotions that go in and out? By Christmas lotions.io could be worth thousands. Read the rest

A brand without a base: Kmart, Sears, TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Neiman-Marcus join Nordstroms in kicking Ivanka Trump's products to the curb

It seems there isn't a demographic that justifies stocking Ivanka Trump's "Trump Home" items -- they've now been removed from high-end retailer Nordstrom's, mid-range retailer Sears, and low-end retailer Kmart. They've also been removed from TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Neiman Marcus. Read the rest

Dollar-a-dose, off-patent drug being marketed in the US for $89,000 as a muscular dystrophy treatment

Deflazacort, a steroid, can be purchased online from non-US sources for $1.00, but now it's being marketed by Illinois's Marathon Pharmaceuticals for $89,000 as Emflaza, to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which predominantly affects men in their 20s. Read the rest

Steve Bannon sunk $60M of Goldman Sachs' money into a failed World of Warcraft goldfarming scheme

I missed this story when it was published last Labor Day, but hey: when Steve Bannon was you know, a regular joe working for a scrappy, much-loved, all-American firm called Goldman Sachs, he directed a $60m investment in a company called Internet Gaming Entertainment, which was a marketplace for buying and selling World of Warcraft gold, ground out of the game by botmasters and sweatshop gold-farmers. Read the rest

UK's Digital Economy Bill is a gift to copyright trolls, with 10 years in prison for watching TV the wrong way

Jim from the UK Open Rights Group writes, "Why has the UK's Digital Economy Bill been drafted to criminalise file sharing and minor online copyright infringements? The government said they just wanted to bring online infringement into line with 'real world' fake DVD offences. However, that isn't how they offence is drawn up: and the government has now been told in Parliament twice that they are both criminalising minor infringements and helping copyright trolls." Read the rest

Leak: Trump will allow US companies to buy "conflict minerals" that fund terrorist warlords in the DRC

A leaked draft presidential memo from the Trump administration would suspend the provisions in Dodd-Frank that limit US firms in sourcing their "conflict minerals" from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the trade in these minerals provides funding to warlords who target civilian populations for campaigns of terror. Read the rest

"Cruelty free" Italian snail-farming booms thanks to caviar and slime-cosmetics

The Italian snail-farming industry has grown by more than 325% over 20 years, driven by a boom in eating snail-egg "caviar" and snail-slime-based cosmetics (which have little-to-no scientific basis) -- slime sales are up 46% over the past ten months. Read the rest

Classy ransomware criminals set themselves apart with 24/7, Russian/English customer service

The customer service operatives for the criminal gang that operates the Spora ransomware are relentlessly customer focused, working to soothe upset victims and streamline their payments in order to recover their data. Read the rest

Waterstones, the UK's national bookstore, came back from near-death by transforming into indie, local stores

Waterstones was at death's door when it was purchased by Russian billioniare Alexander Mamut, who hired James Daunt -- an investment banker who'd founded the successful, six-store Daunt Books -- to run the chain. Read the rest

Russia's slot-machine bans let criminals buy machines on the cheap and reverse-engineer them

In 2009, then-PM Vladimir Putin engineered a Russian ban on slot machines in a bid to starve Georgian mafiyeh of funds, the resulting glut of used slots gave Russia's own criminal gangs cheap testbeds to use in a project to reverse-engineer the machines and discover their weaknesses -- now, Russian gangs roam the world's casinos, racking up careful, enormous scores. Read the rest

97 tech companies large and small sign a legal brief opposing Trump's #muslimban

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, Snap, Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Dropbox, Cloudflare, Box, eBay, GitHub, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Medium, Mozilla, Patreon, Paypal, Pinterest, Reddit, Salesforce, Spotfy, Stripe, Wikimedia, Yelp, Y Combinator and many, many others (97 in all!) have co-signed an amicus brief filed with the Ninth Circuit to oppose Trump's Muslim Ban, as part of the ongoing litigation over the constitutionality of Trump's chaotic executive order. Read the rest

Snapchat's parent company files for $3 Billion U.S. IPO

Snap Inc., the parent company behind Snapchat, just filed for an initial public offering. They're the first American social media company to file for IPO so since Twitter did more than three years ago.

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After record-breaking donations and members, ACLU signs up for the Y Combinator startup accelerator

The ACLU raised $24M over the weekend of the #muslimban, six times its usual annual average, and now it is joining the Winter 2017 class at Y Combinator, a startup accelerator that has emerged a mixed bag of great and terrible companies, which has had to contend with controversy over its ties to Peter Thiel. Read the rest

Silicon Valley technology firms meet to plan legal challenge of Trump #MuslimBan

A group of tech firms will meet today to plan the filing of an amicus brief in support of lawsuit to challenge U.S. President Donald Trump's “Muslim Ban.”

Trump's order was issued on Friday, and restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries in which Trump has no business interests. Adjacent Muslim-majority nations in which Trump does have business interests were left untouched by the ban. Administration staffers took great pains to keep the orders secret from other government officials, and from the public, until it went into effect.

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Big Motorcycle wants to make fixing your own bike a crime

Nebraska is one of five states considering Right to Repair laws that would require companies to provide manuals and parts so that people could fix their own stuff, or get their stuff fixed by independent service centers, and the lobby groups for ATVs and motorcycles are pissed. Read the rest

Financial Times columnist advocates imprisoning dirty corporate executives

Rolls Royce just arranged for a "deferred prosecution" with UK prosecutors over revelations that it had committed jailable offenses by bribing overseas officials in order to secure their business; under this arrangement, prosecutors have allowed Rolls Royce to pay to have the prosecution halted and to have their executives immunized from criminal repercussions for their actions. Read the rest

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