Author: News Aggregate

House Passes Bill To Speed Deployment of Self-Driving Cars

The House voted Wednesday to speed the introduction of self-driving cars by giving the federal government authority to exempt automakers from safety standards not applicable to the technology, and to permit deployment of up to 100,000 of the vehicles annually over the next several years. The bill was passed by a voice vote. State and local officials have raised concern that it limits their ability to protect the safety of their citizens by giving to the federal government sole authority to regulate the vehicles’ design and performance. States would still decide whether to permit self-driving cars on their roads. Generally, the federal government regulates the vehicle, while states regulate the driver. Automakers have complained that a patchwork of laws states have passed in recent years would hamper deployment of the vehicles, which they see as the future of the industry. Self-driving cars are forecast to dramatically lower traffic fatalities once they are on roads in significant numbers, among other benefits. Early estimates indicate there were more than 40,000 traffic fatalities last year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 94 percent of crashes involve human error. Members of the Senate Commerce committee are also working on self-driving car legislation, but a bill hasn’t been introduced. If a measure passes the full Senate, the two versions would have to be reconciled before President Donald Trump could sign it into law....

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Equifax Breach Leaves 143 Million People at Risk

Credit monitoring company Equifax has been hit by a high-tech heist that exposed the Social Security numbers and other sensitive information about 143 million Americans. Now the unwitting victims have to worry about the threat of having their identities stolen. The Atlanta-based company, one of three major U.S. credit bureaus, said Thursday that “criminals” exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year. The theft obtained consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers. The purloined data can be enough for crooks to hijack the identities of people whose credentials were stolen through no fault of their own, potentially wreaking havoc on their lives. Equifax said its core credit-reporting databases don’t appear to have been breached. “On a scale of one to 10, this is a 10 in terms of potential identity theft,” said Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan. “Credit bureaus keep so much data about us that affects almost everything we do.” Lenders rely on the information collected by the credit bureaus to help them decide whether to approve financing for homes, cars and credit cards. Credit checks are even sometimes done by employers when deciding whom to hire for a job. Equifax discovered the hack July 29, but waited until Thursday to warn consumers. The Atlanta-based company declined to comment on that delay or...

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Fastest Wireless Network Winner Is a Big Surprise

Wireless and fixed network speeds in the U.S. have been steadily increasing, although the nation still lags behind many other countries, according to the latest Speedtest data from the Internet diagnostics firm Ookla. The company’s report for the first and second quarters of this year also shows that T-Mobile is currently in first place for average mobile network speeds in the U.S., easily beating the traditional leaders Verizon and AT&T and far ahead of Sprint. Those results, however, are not as surprising as they initially seem. Tests last month by the wireless coverage mapping company OpenSignal also found T-Mobile’s network speeds in the lead, due in part to Verizon’s and AT&T’s revival of unlimited data offerings earlier this year. ‘First All-LTE Mobile Carrier’? Ookla uses its Speedtest technology to measure upload and download speeds for wireless carriers nationwide. The company then calculates a speed score for each service provider based on performance across the carrier’s entire network, with 90 percent of the score based on download speeds and 10 percent based on upload speeds. “T-Mobile has the fastest mobile network in the United States, clocking in with a Speed Score of 23.17 on modern devices during Q1-Q2 2017,” according to the Speedtest results published today. “The combination of a tightly-spaced cell site grid and a smaller subscriber base than Verizon and AT&T could be the keys to T-Mobile’s success...

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Hackers Attacking Power Grids in U.S. and Europe

A hacking campaign is targeting the energy sector in Europe and the US with the potential of sabotaging national power grids, a cybersecurity firm has warned. The group, dubbed “Dragonfly” by researchers at Symantec, has been in operation since at least 2011 but went dark in 2014 after it was first exposed, secretly placing backdoors in the industrial control systems of power plants across the US and Europe. Now, Symantec reports, the group has resumed operations, apparently working since late 2015 to investigate and penetrate energy facilities in at least three countries: the US, Turkey and Switzerland. “The Dragonfly group appears to be interested in both learning how energy facilities operate and also gaining access to operational systems themselves, to the extent that the group now potentially has the ability to sabotage or gain control of these systems should it decide to do so,” the cybersecurity firm warns. Dragonfly’s methods are varied, but all its attacks seem to be focused on researching the inner workings of energy firms. It has been seen sending malicious emails with attachments that leak internal network credentials, which are then used to install backdoors on the network allowing the hackers to take control of computers and systems. They’ve also been seen seeding fake flash updates to install the backdoors and carrying out “watering hole” attacks, hacking third-party websites that were likely to be visited...

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Prime Real Estate: Amazon Seeks Second Headquarters

Amazon, bursting out of its Seattle headquarters, is hunting for a second home. Must haves: A prime location, close to transit, with plenty of space to grow. The company said Thursday that it will spend more than $5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees. It plans to stay in its sprawling Seattle headquarters and the new space will be “a full equal” of its current home, said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Amazon’s announcement highlights how fast the company is expanding and is certain to create a scramble among cities and states vying to make the short list. They have a little more than a month to apply through a special website , and the company said it will make a final decision next year. It didn’t hint about where it might land, but its requirements could rule out some places: It wants to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and wants to be able to expand that headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade. That’s about the same size as its current home in Seattle. Co-headquarters, though, often come about as a result of mergers. Amazon said...

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