Love Gigabit Seattle? Comcast has donated lots to the guy now trying to slow it

This map only shows some parts of the city that Seattle Gigabit aims to serve.

If we’ve told you once, we’ve told you a thousand times: broadband in the United States is slow and expensive relative to much of the rest of the world.

Sure, there are a few bright spots of gigabit nationwide, including Seattle, which announced its service nearly a year ago. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn pushed for Gigabit Seattle, a partnership between Gigabit Squared and the University of Washington. Its goal has been to bring 1Gbps connections to the Emerald City, using fiber that was originally planned for a municipal network.

But now, the Washington Post reports that Comcast has been donating money to McGinn’s rival, state Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle). The mayoral election is set for Tuesday, November 5.

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via Ars Technica

How the NSA’s MUSCULAR tapped Google’s and Yahoo’s private networks

The NSA’s MUSCULAR program grabbed more data than NSA’s analysts could swallow.

As Ars reported yesterday, documents provided to The Washington Post by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA was able to harvest enormous amounts of unencrypted information from Google and Yahoo by grabbing the data straight off the companies’ wide-area networks. Analysis of the documents alongside previously leaked data and other information explains why engineers affiliated with Google shouted expletives when they were shown how the NSA effectively bypassed the safeguards that the companies had put in place to protect customer data.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV yesterday, NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander said, “I can tell you factually we do not have access to Google servers [or] Yahoo servers.” Technically, Gen. Alexander’s denial is truthful—the NSA did not access Google’s or Yahoo’s servers themselves. But the agency’s MUSCULAR program, undertaken in collaboration with the United Kingdom’s NSA equivalent, the GCHQ, does tap into the traffic of the networks that links those companies’ data centers.

The taps, described as a “minor circuit move” by NSA documents, simply plugged into the telecommunications infrastructure that carries Google’s and Yahoo’s private fiber links. It gave the NSA access inside the two companies’ Internet perimeters, allowing the agency to scan and capture massive amounts of data—so much that the NSA’s Special Source Operations complained that it had too much garbage to sort through.

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via Ars Technica

Prenda Law’s “hacking” suit against ISPs ends in total loss

At the height of its confidence, Prenda sued AT&T and Comcast.

2012 was a good year for Prenda Law. The law firm raked in at least $1.9 million by sending thousands of letters alleging that Internet users had illegally downloaded pornographic films.

In August of that year, Prenda was feeling so good about itself that it made a particularly bold move. The law firm actually sued two of the nation’s biggest Internet service providers, AT&T and Comcast, frustrated that the ISPs wouldn’t hand over subpoenas seeking the identities of some 6,600 people. The bizarrely worded complaint alleged that the ISPs had “aided and abetted” hackers who gained entry to porn websites owned by Lightspeed Media, an adult content company that was then a Prenda client.

But it was really all about discovery—that is, getting the names of users. As AT&T’s lawyer explained to the judge: 

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via Ars Technica

Word abonnee vóór 4 november en ontvang direct Hardware.Info Magazine #5/2013

Gisteren maakten we de inhoud van Hardware.Info Magazine #5/2013 bekend, het eerste nummer dat we volledig in eigen beheer uitgeven. Na overleg met de drukker en abonnementenadministratie kunnen we melden dat iedereen die zich uiterlijk op 3 november aanmeld als nieuwe abonnee (anders gezegd dus vóór 4 november) nummer #5/2013 direct op z’n deurmat mag verwachten. Meld je je later aan, dan zal #6/2013 je eerste blad worden.
In dit blad tref je een grote test van 35 verschillende S…

via Hardware.Info Reviews + PC Advies + Magazines + Video’s

Op-ed: Why I‘m not too worked up about the next-gen console resolution wars

A comparison image from the PC version of Battlefield 4 shows just how little difference there is in upscaled images starting at 720p vs. 900p.

A certain corner of the game-focused Internet has been busy counting pixels this week, scrutinizing statements, screenshots, and videos for evidence that the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One is providing a clearly superior graphical experience at launch. After examining all the available evidence, it seems clear that the PlayStation 4 versions of launch games like Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts enjoy a slight graphical advantage over their Xbox One cousins. It also seems equally clear, to me, that the difference just isn’t that big a deal—unless you plan on playing games while looking through a magnifying glass.

The brouhaha really got going on Tuesday, when Digital Foundry posted an analysis of the footage it captured from the PC, PS4, and Xbox One versions of Battlefield 4 during a recent review event. Their capture setup determined that the Xbox One version was running at 1280×720, compared to a 1600×900 resolution for the PS4 version, both at 60 frames per second. While these weren’t the final release candidate versions of the game being tested, the resolutions are likely to be consistent in the final games despite an earlier promise by DICE to target “equal performance” on both consoles.

(Members of the PC master race will be happy to know that the Windows version of the game ran at 1920×1080 resolution on “Ultra” settings, besting both consoles handily. The console versions were most comparable to the PC game running at the PC’s “High” graphics quality, Digital Foundry said.)

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via Ars Technica

Finland’s Foreign Ministry gets pwned by worse-than-Red October malware

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja spoke to Finnish national media in Helsinki on Thursday.

Citing unnamed sources, Finnish television channel MTV3 reports (Google Translate) that the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was penetrated by malware over a period of four years. The malware specifically targeted communications between Finland and the European Union. MTV3 adds that the breach was discovered earlier this year and that the Finnish government suspects Russian or Chinese intelligence agencies to be behind the breach.

Ari Uusikartan, the director general of the information and documentation division at Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, told reporters (Google Translate) that the breach appears to involve a unknown piece of malware “similar to, and more sophisticated than Red October” malware, but that it was not Red October itself.

Earlier this year, Ars reported how Red October is the “Swiss Army knife of malware.”

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via Ars Technica