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Richard Chirgwin

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Intelligence watchdog warns against intel agency mission creep

A genuine intelligence insider has told a government inquiry that expanding telecommunications intercept powers could be both risky and privacy-invasive. Dr Vivienne Thom is the inspector-general of intelligence and security, and she has written to the Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Reference Committee about the …
P/2013 R3 breaking up

Hubble 'scope snaps 200,000-ton chunky crumble conundrum

The Hubble space telescope has filmed strange asteroid P/2013 R3 disintegrating chunk by chunk as it screams around our Sun. As announced at the orbiting probe's website here, this particular crumbling space rock is something that's never been seen before. It all started when two surveys, Catalina and Pan-STARRS, spotted an odd …
Ciscoblood

Cisco patches enterprise wireless vulns

Cisco has issued patches and mitigation instructions for 16 of its wireless products, to take care of a number of denial of service vulnerabilities and one unauthorised access vulnerability. Let's deal with the most severe issue first. The Cisco IOS code pushed to a number of Aironet access points under the control of a Cisco …

Hacking Team snoopware found on US servers

Canada's Citizen Lab has added to its record of uncovering government snooping using Hacking Team's software, has dropped a bombshell: it's accused 12 American data centres of hosting clients deploying the spyware. In its latest report, Hacking Team's US Nexus, Citizen Lab* says there are 114 servers in America, in at least a …
management regulation2

US prosecutors drop hyperlink charges against Barrett Brown

US federal prosecutors have moved to withdraw all but six of the seventeen charges levelled against Barrett Brown. Brown has been fighting charges that he trafficked in data that was stolen in the Stratfor hack. The most controversial of the charges were that he had committed a crime by sharing a hyperlink to a file containing …
Suitcase bulging with cash

Apple 'hid AUD$9 BILLION' from Australia alone: Report

An Australian newspaper is claiming that analysis of Apple's Irish subsidiary's finances demonstrates Cupertino's skill at offshoring its revenues is saving the company billions it would otherwise have to shell out in tax. The Australian Financial Review alleges (warning: may be paywalled) that over a ten-year period, Apple has …

Even HTTPS can leak your PRIVATE browsing

HTTPS may be good at securing financial transactions, but it isn't much use as a privacy tool: US researchers have found that a traffic analysis of ten HTTPS-secured Web sites yielded “personal data such as medical conditions, legal or financial affairs or sexual orientation”. In I Know Why You Went to the Clinic: Risks and …
australia

Tech policy battle: Australian Industry Group vs. Information Industries Association

Two big lobby groups have just released their visions for Australia's future economy, and agree on the need for reform that will help Australia's technology sector to improve its performance. Let's start with business lobby group The Australian Industry Group (AIG), which this morning published its 10 point plan for a strong and …

Big Content wants Aussies blocked from Netflix

Australia's television rights-holders are increasingly agitating against locals accessing Netflix by presenting apparently-US IP addresses to the streaming service. In short order, Quickflix (which has been working for some time to sign up local ISPs to carry its content) and TV broadcasters have been taking their case to …
cloud

OpenText says punters want low latency, sovereignty certainty

Last week, OpenText joined the growing number of international software outfits to stretch its cloud to Australia. Vulture South spoke to engineering senior VP Muhi Majzoub about the decision to host a local data centre. With 30 racks and what the company told El Reg is a multi-million dollar investment, Majzoub said the …
Planetoid crashes into primordial Earth

WHOA: Get a load of Asteroid DX110 JUST MISSING planet EARTH

Asteroid 2014 DX110 will, on Wednesday, March 5, pass Earth within 345,600km – that's closer than the Moon at 384,400km. The fly-by should be a beauty: the asteroid is a 30m (98ft) space rock that will whizz by at 2106 UTC (1306 PST, 1606 EST). Updated at 2345 UTC to add: See below for videos of the event. The Pan-STARRS 1 …

GNU security library GnuTLS fails on cert checks: Patch now

The notion that open source software is more likely to be secure because anyone can look at the source code looks just a little less sound today, after a serious bug was discovered in the key GnuTLS security library, impacting hundreds of applications that use it. According to this Red Hat advisory: “It was discovered that …

Google, eBay to Australian gov: 'protect us from our users'

US tech giants Google and eBay have called on the Australian government to give them the same “safe harbour” protections as apply to telecommunications carriers. There's no little irony in this: Google's been criticised for paying the low millions in tax in Australia, courtesy of its Irish-Dutch money shuffle, even though its …
Temporary lead-ion

Telstra 'snot boxes' challenge Turnbull's FTTN plan

Rain has been a problem for my fixed line for years. There have been other exciting ventures in broadband fail over the years, such as when a contractor set fire to a large Telstra pit and cut off 20 homes for three weeks, but rain has been the constant niggle. It most recently came to a head last weekend – March 1 – when …

NEC takes control of its OpenFlow controllers

NEC is prepping for this month's Open Networking Summit in Santa Clara with the pre-exhibition announcement of the latest addition to its software-defined networking (SDN) lineup. Its contribution to the data centre infrastructure “mine's bigger” game is a new controller, the UNC (Unified Network Controller – apparently someone …
CSRF attack

Team Cymru spots 300,000 compromised SOHO gateways

It's time to check the DNS settings on your broadband gateway, with security research group Team Cymru discovering an attack that could have redirected as many as 300,000 devices to a malicious resolver. Once a gateway is compromised, the devices behind it would be sent to the attacker's DNS, exposing them to drive-by attacks, …

Miscreant menaces Meetup, minuscule money mania mashed

Meetup.com has gone public with one of the most paltry ransom demands The Register has seen – but rather than pay up to end a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, the klatch organizer instead put up with its site being repeatedly hosed offline, we're told. The website said its woes began on Thursday when it received a …

Optus sparks broadband HYPEGASM with gigasite trial

Optus has deployed a 'gigasite' delivering 1.7 / 2.3 Gbps performance (strike out which does not apply) by running seven / eight spectrum bands in a single site (strike out which does not apply) using equipment from NSN / Huawei (strike out which does not apply), demonstrating meaningless hype / the future of telecommunications …
Image of Perseus cluster

Boffins say dark matter found with X-ray

Two teams working on the search for dark matter have independently suggested the search could concentrate at a specific X-ray wavelength, following study of data collected by the XMM-Newton space observatory. While it's not a proof of anything just yet, the two groups – one from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, …
TOR Logo

IM demo for TOR coming soon

The TOR project is about to join the world of secure instant messaging, laying out a roadmap that would see its first code for a new project delivered by the end of March 2014. The first aim of the Tor Instant Messaging Bundle will be to get experimental builds happening with Instantbird providing the messaging interface. Early …

Cisco kicks off $300k Internet of Things security competition

Cisco has announced prizes of up to $US75,000 to get help finding ways to secure the burgeoning Internet of Things. Anyone who watches the procession of SCADA vulnerabilities, the exposures discoverable through the Shodan search engine, or the recent bugs popping up in cars, routers, home automation and (maybe) smart appliances …

Ethernet boffins get ready to kick off 400G development

After a year of discussion and setting of baseline specifications, the hard work of creating 400G bps Ethernet is about to begin. This month, according to the acting chair of the IEEE's 400G Ethernet study group, Dell's John D'Ambrosia, the group will be seeking approval of the project documentation it's been developing since …
mercedes benz telephone module

Daimler hints at Android-powered telematics in future cars

A job ad posted by Daimler-Benz has lit the world up with speculation about Google's plans to keep pace with Apple in the in-car operating system market. The ad, posted here, is calling for an engineer to work on “Google Projected Mode” technology, to integrate Google's technology with Mercedes' MBConnect communications system …
PrimeSense

Open source 3D sensing libraries kiboshed, maybe by Apple

The OpenNI project, which provides middleware libraries and applications for 3D sensing, is closing in April. The project – its name is a contraction of Open Natural Interaction – was led by PrimeSense, whose technology was the basis for Microsoft's Kinect motion sensor. PrimeSense was acquired by Apple in November 2013. That …
Uncov chronicles the failure of Web 2.0

Australian bureaucrats to journalist: 'Give us back our bits'

Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection has written to a journalist requesting the return of documents downloaded from the Internet. The request stems from the freelance journalist, Asher Wolf, discovering that the department's publication of asylum seeker statistics contained fields, not visible to a casual …

Oz feds kick the metadata retention can, again

The Australian Federal Police is renewing its push to sweep up as much telecommunications metadata as is humanly possible, as a Senate Committee conducts a review into telecommunications interception legislation. Metadata collection on a mass scale remains as controversial a topic under this government as it was under the prior …

UK unis, McAfee collude to beat collusion attacks

The UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is backing research designed to improve detection of “collusion” between malicious apps on the Android platform. Collusion attacks use malicious apps with different levels of permissions to bypass Android access controls. For example, one app might request …
OpenID Connect Protocol diagram

OpenID Foundation launches XML-free ID handler

The OpenID Foundation is unshackling developers from the burden of having to work with XML, with the launch of a protocol designed to make the tasks performed by its OpenID protocol more mobile-and-API-friendly. OpenID Connect, described here, is backed by Deutsche Telekom, Google, Microsoft, Ping Identity and Salesforce. It …

Rip up telco red-tape so they can take on Viber, WhatsApp, says Brazil

Brazil's communications minister says the country is looking at a new telecommunications regulatory regime, to take into account the rise of services like Viber and WhatsApp. Speaking at Mobile World Congress, minister Paulo Bernardo said the quality-of-service requirements placed on incumbents (Telefonica, Embratel and Hi) is …
padlock

CipherCloud launches 'watch your cloud app' protection

CipherCloud is rolling out a new iteration of its cloud-based security and data loss prevention (DLP) environment which it says focuses on interoperability with existing environments. Founder and CEO Pravin Kothari says CipherCloud recognises that enterprises already have big investments in security products – malware protection …

IBM stuffs 64Gbps of traffic down 'low quality' fibres

While there are politicians in Australia willing to argue that you can't predict the future capacity of fibre, IBM is doing just that, publishing an experiment that suggests the low-cost multimode fibres used for short-haul data centre links will support years of speed improvements. What's interesting in this announcement isn't …
Include Security's Tinder leakage demo

Dating app spent months as STALKING app

The popular dating app Tinder spent months last year leaking excessive location data about its users. According to Include Security, the bug arose when Tinder implemented a fix to an older security issue that emerged in July 2013 (in which users could get other users' geolocation in latitude and longitude, discovered by the same …

Aaah-CHOOO! Brit boffins say WiFi can 'sneeze' malware

While the "head cold" metaphor is a bit laboured, the issue is genuine: a group of researchers from the University of Liverpool have found that WiFi access points are highly efficient at passing around virus infections. Likening the spread of computer viruses over WiFi as akin to the spread of human viruses in the air, the …

Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations stall again

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade disagreement talks continue to resemble a slow-motion train wreck, with the latest round of negotiations apparently stalled over agricultural subsidies. According to Reuters, the latest round of talks in Singapore ground to a halt because America and Japan are butting heads over the latter's …
AWA Tower in Sydney

AWA calls in administrators

AWA – once Amalgamated Wireless Australia – may be nearing the end of its 105-year-long road, with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reporting that it's called in the administrators. The ABC's report, here, says administrators are seeking expressions of interest for companies interested in acquiring the business. During …
DARPA Synapse chip

DARPA wants help to counter counterfeits

DARPA is seeking vendor input into a program designed to defeat the problem of counterfeit electronic components. As the agency states in its announcement, the provenance of electronics components is a big deal in the military, since a component failure can endanger (for example) a fighter jet's mission (as well as the personnel …
Printed key

Evil or benign? 'Trusted proxy' draft debate rages on

Discussion over the AT&T-authored Internet Draft “Explicitly Trusted Proxy in HTTP/2” continues, with commentary unpicking the likely implications of the draft. One question is whether or not there's as great a threat to user privacy as was stated by Lauren Weinstein in the blog post discussed in El Reg yesterday. According to …
Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom extradition hearings delayed

Kim Dotcom will be waiting until nearly the end of 2014 to find out whether American courts will get their hands on him: an extradition hearing due in April 2014 has been delayed, with a new date yet to be set. That's led the Megaupload founder to accuse the New Zealand government of interfering in the judicial process, to delay …
Bitcoin bloodbath

Pony up: Botnet succesfully targets Bitcoin

Another $US200,000-plus worth of Bitcoins has been lifted, according to Trustwave, which has identified a new Pony botnet targeting crypto-currencies. News of the heist comes hard on the heels of Mt Gox withdrawing from the Bitcoin foundation and killing off its social media accounts. Pony isn't a horse of a completely …

Health boffins say wind turbines don't make you sick

The twentieth review of the impact of wind turbines on human health in Australia since 2003 has found the same thing that the previous 19 found: there's no evidence that wind turbines have any impact on human health. The review (PDF), by the National Health and Medical Research Council, was requested by the incoming government …
Facebook data center - server racks

Juniper, HP join the MWC NFV frenzy

As the countdown to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona nears zero, another two major vendors have added their names to the NFV – network function virtualisation – list: Juniper and HP. Their announcements, along with similar releases last week by Alcatel-Lucent and Cisco, lend further weight to the decomposition of mobile …

MIT wants quasars to help put free will to rest

The last of three loopholes held to remain in Bell's Theorem, “setting independence”, is under the spotlight with an MIT research group saying that quasars could be used as random number generators and help prove* the validity of quantum mechanics. (*The Register is well aware that quantum mechanics has withstood the most …
Printed key

Saving private spying: IETF Draft reveals crypto-busting proxy proposal

A draft put forward to the Internet Engineering Task Force has drawn the ire of prominent privacy activist Lauren Weinstein as “one of the most alarming Internet proposals” he's ever seen. The document that's upset Weinstein is this one, out of the HTTPBis Working Group and posted as an Internet Draft on 14 February 2014. …
A boat full of Fail

Collective SSL FAIL a symptom of software's cultural malaise

In the 19 years that have passed since the first implementation of SSL, you could be forgiven for expecting that the industry could do it right by now: and yet last week, not one but three SSL vendors were discovered to have implementation problems. Belkin was caught not checking SSL certificates; WhatsApp was discovered to have …
Artist's impression of Planck; Pic: ESA

Missing matter found by squinting through gravitational lens

Some of the universe's “missing matter” might have been found in an unexpected place: exactly where it ought to be, sitting in galaxies. The missing matter question arose when the ESA's Planck mission team published this paper on Arxiv, in which they pointed out an apparent discrepancy between the “wrinkles” in the cosmic …
cloud

Alca-Lu joins race to make telco networks more cloudy

Alcatel-Lucent has joined the growing list of telco vendors bowing to the inevitable and giving their kit a more cloudy flavour. The company has announced new versions of a slew of its mobile portfolio that break the nexus between the hardware that ships bits around and the software that controls it. It's a bowing to the …
University California Riverside holo memory prototype

US boffins turn up the spin on holographic memory

Alongside the “beat Moore's law” stream of research, computer science boffins have also spent years working on increasing memory density. Now, University of California Riverside researchers have demonstrated a holographic memory based on a phenomenon called spin waves. As the university explains in this canned statement, spin …

Mathematicians spark debate with 13 GB proof for Erdős problem

When Pierre de Fermat famously complained that he didn't have space to write the proof of his famous “Fermat's Last Theorem”, he only ran out of space of the margin of a book. Now, a pair of mathematicians at the University of Liverpool in the UK have produced a 13GB proof that's sparked a debate about how to test it. The …

Belkin patches WeMo bug

Belkin has published fixes for the flaws discovered by IOActive in its WeMo Home Automation system, and is urging users to download updated versions of its control apps from either the AppStore or Google Play. As discussed by The Register yesterday, the bugs opened a wide range of holes in the kit, including opportunities to …

Cisco's the new Tivo, pumps out 'DVR in the cloud' offering

Cisco wants to borg your TV: as part of a big cloud-for-service-providers announcement, it's kicked off a cloudy digital video recorder (DVR) offering under its Videoscape brand. Videoscape itself isn't new: it was kicked off in January 2011 as a TV-over-IP platform, and since then Cisco has been rolling various acquisitions …