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Iain Thomson

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Photo of the White House at dusk

Obama's healthcare.gov savior says: 'No suits please, we're techies'

The incoming head of the newly formed US Digital Service – a crack sysadmin force to fix government IT systems – has said his team are focused less on looking smart and more on serious coding. Youtube Video Mikey Dickerson was brought in by the White House to sort out the lamentable launch of the Affordable Care Act's …
Iain Thomson, 21 Aug 2014
comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

What a pain in the mass! Euro craft Rosetta to poke its probe in 10-BILLION-tonne comet

The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe has made the first measurement of the mass of the comet it's chasing – and has come up with a mass of 10 billion tonnes, plus or minus 10 per cent. comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Does my mass look big in this? Rosetta has spent the past ten years, and six million kilometres, getting …
Iain Thomson, 21 Aug 2014
Android

Slapdash SSL code puts tons of top Android Play Store apps in hack peril

Sloppy programming, poor patching, and unreliable trust engines are rife within Android apps, according to a new study. In short, millions smartphone users are potentially wide open to man-in-the-middle attacks, it's claimed. Researchers at security firm FireEye went through the 1,000 most popular Android applications from the …
Iain Thomson, 21 Aug 2014
traffic light hacking

Need a green traffic light all the way home? Easy with insecure street signals, say researchers

Criminals monkeying with traffic lights are a staple of cinema: the 1969 Italian Job and Luc Besson's Taxi are particularly fine examples. Now researchers have demonstrated that fact is much less glamorous – and simpler – than fiction. Youtube clip from the Italian Job In a paper [PDF] delivered to the USENIX Security 2014 …
Iain Thomson, 20 Aug 2014
Cyborg moth

Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue

Scientists at North Carolina State University in the US have implanted electrodes in a developing moth to closely observe and remotely control the creature's flight. Cyborg moth Cyborg moth takes to the wing In a paper published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments, the lead author Dr Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor …
Iain Thomson, 20 Aug 2014
Azhdarchid pterosaurs

Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies

A new study by Russian paleontologists has revealed the dominance of a species of huge flying lizards that once flew over Earth's skies. Azhdarchid pterosaurs Azhdarchid pterosaurs ... creatures the size of small aircraft encircled the globe The creatures, named Azhdarchid pterosaurs after the Persian word Aždarha meaning …
Iain Thomson, 20 Aug 2014

Rubber Ub' hub: Uber test-drives condoms, gift card, soap etc deliveries

Taxi app Uber is running drugstore deliveries to customers in the Washington DC area as part of a test to see if it can become more than an amateur cabbie collective. Uber's in-development Corner Store can be accessed from a tab in the Uber app, and allows people to order their toiletries from an Uber driver. The inventory list …
Iain Thomson, 19 Aug 2014
HTC One M8

Microsoft and HTC are M8s again: New One mobe sports WinPhone

HTC has launched an M8 phone running Microsoft's latest Windows Phone OS – but only in the US and only for the Verizon network. "Consumers love the HTC One (M8) and today's introduction extends that enthusiasm to new audiences hungry for choice in their mobile experience," said Jason Mackenzie, President of HTC Americas in a …
Iain Thomson, 19 Aug 2014
Three  UK Passports

e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt

Brit taxpayers face a £224m bill in cancellation fees after the UK government scrapped a £750m contract for a passenger-checking computer system at its borders. The contract for the e-Borders IT project, which is supposed to scrutinize the identities of people entering the country, was signed in 2007, back when the Labour Party …
Iain Thomson, 19 Aug 2014
Aphex Twin

Tor-rorists get sneaky Aphex Twin album peek in dance guru hypegasm

Richard James, aka electronic music composer Aphex Twin, has been using the power of Tor to hype his new album – and to remind computer users about their own system's security. http://syro2eznzea2xbpi.onion — Aphex Twin (@AphexTwin) August 18, 2014 The .onion link above leads to a web server hidden in the Tor anonymizing …
Iain Thomson, 18 Aug 2014
medical_doctor_health_channel

'Chinese crims' snatch 4.5 MILLION patient files from US hospitals

One of the largest healthcare providers in the US claims Chinese hackers ran riot through its systems between April and June this year – accessing names, addresses and social security numbers of millions of patients. But Community Health Systems (CHS) insists no medical records nor any financial data were grabbed by the …
Iain Thomson, 18 Aug 2014

Time to ditch HTTP – govt malware injection kit thrust into spotlight

A new report form the Toronto-based internet watchdog Citizen Lab has shown cases of governments running network injection attacks that can deliver malware via any HTTP web connection. The dossier looks at two hacking tools created by the Italian firm Hacking Team and the German biz FinFisher that use the injection attack vector …
Iain Thomson, 16 Aug 2014

Supervalu supermarket stores stung by sneaky sales system scammers

Supervalu, one of the biggest supermarket chains in the US, is warning customers who shopped with them between June 22 and July 17 to check their bank statements, after investigators discovered hackers have been at work. "The safety of our customers' personal information is a top priority for us," said CEO Sam Duncan. "The …
Iain Thomson, 15 Aug 2014

Apple slings fanbois' data at Chinese servers in China Telecom deal

In an effort to woo buyers in China, Apple has inked a deal to store Chinese customer data in Chinese servers for the first time. Plenty of technology firms are leery about storing sensitive information in China (although given the NSA's reach, US servers aren't exactly private) but Apple has hired China Telecom to use the telco …
Iain Thomson, 15 Aug 2014

Seven Apple Store staff cuffed in alleged $500k stolen iPhone scam bust

Seven Apple store employees, and a worker at Best Buy, have been arrested and charged in Florida for allegedly selling stolen iPhones. The seven Cook & Co staffers worked at the Apple Store in Fort Lauderdale, and are accused of working with phone thieves to exchange 600 stolen mobes for legitimate handsets. Police estimate the …
Iain Thomson, 15 Aug 2014
Sad Anonymous

Know what Ferguson city needs right now? It's not Anonymous doxing random people

Anonymous has called off efforts to name and shame the cop who shot unarmed teen Michael Brown dead in Ferguson, Missouri – after the hacktivists identified a bloke whom the police say has never worked as a beat officer. On Thursday the group released the name and pictures from Facebook of a man they accused of shooting 18-year- …
Iain Thomson, 15 Aug 2014
kilobot

What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this

Harvard University computer scientists have built a 1,000-strong robot army that can form itself into shapes with little human input. KIlobots And I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords (click to enlarge) The machines, dubbed kilobots because there are 1,024 of them, each contain an Atmel micrcontroller, two …
Iain Thomson, 14 Aug 2014
Asteroid DA 1950

Spin doctors crack 'impossible' asteroid hurtling towards Earth

Scientists studying a mysterious asteroid that could hit Earth in the 29th century think they've found the reason why the fast-spinning object hasn't blown itself apart. The asteroid, 1950 DA, is over a kilometer (0.62 miles) across and rotates completely every 2.1 hours, a speed once thought impossible since the forces involved …
Iain Thomson, 14 Aug 2014

Click on a Facebook ad on your mobe, then buy a thing on your PC ... Facebook remembers

Advertisers on global ad network Facebook can now pinpoint exactly which devices and computers people use to buy stuff through online ads. "Facebook already offers targeting, delivery and conversion measurement across devices. With the new cross-device report, advertisers are now able to view the devices on which people see ads …
Iain Thomson, 13 Aug 2014
Edward Snowden

Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar

Rogue NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden says his former employer has developed software that will automatically attack foreign computers deemed to be a threat – without checking in with a human first. The system, dubbed MonsterMind, is designed to detect strikes against key US servers and block the assaults as quickly as possible. But …
Iain Thomson, 13 Aug 2014
Dell logo

Dell slaps Intel Haswell brawn in monster Precision workstations

Dell has updated its line of tower and rack workstations with the latest Intel x86-64 chips and promises they will be on sale next month. Powering Dell's new offerings are "Haswell" Xeon E5 v3 processors, which aren’t on general release as yet, and the Precision models will also carry DDR4 memory capable of speeds up to 2,133MHz …
Iain Thomson, 13 Aug 2014
Taxi Driver

Uber and Lyft sitting in a tree, 'c-a-n-c-e-l-l-i-n-g each other's rides'

Uber has blasted rival taxi app firm Lyft over claims that Uber staff had deliberately ordered Lyft rides and then cancelled them. Lyft told CNN that it had logged 5,560 requests for rides from staff of Uber since October 3, 2013, and that there were numerous cases of people ordering short Lyft rides and spending the time trying …
Iain Thomson, 13 Aug 2014
USB

No more turning over a USB thing, then turning it over again to plug it in: Reversible socket ready for lift off

Computer users have moved one step closer to saving a few seconds twiddling with their USB cables now that the port's reversible Type C connector specification has been cleared for volume production. The Type C connector, first unveiled in April, is fully reversible and considerably slimmer than the USB plug we've been used to …
Iain Thomson, 12 Aug 2014

US 911 service needs emergency upgrade and some basic security against scumbags

The US emergency response system is in urgent need of better security as it’s surprisingly easy to disable or spoof 911 calls. In a talk at Defcon 22 two doctors (who are also hackers) and a security consultant presented research into the emergency response system and how calls via fixed line, mobile phones and VoIP are routed. …
Iain Thomson, 11 Aug 2014

Why hackers won't be able to hijack your next flight - the facts

Two seasoned pilots, one of whom is a published hacking expert, have been puncturing some of the myths about aircraft hacking at Defcon 22. Dr. Phil Polstra, professor of digital forensics at Bloomberg University (and a qualified commercial pilot and flight instructor) and "Captain Polly," professor of aviation at the University …
Iain Thomson, 10 Aug 2014
NSA parody T-shirt

Crypto Daddy Phil Zimmerman says surveillance society is DOOMED

A killer combination of rapidly advancing technology and a desire for greater privacy among the public should condemn current surveillance state to an historical anachronism, according to PGP creator Phil Zimmermann. In an extended talk at Defcon 22 in Las Vegas, Zimmermann said it might seem as though the intelligence agencies …
Iain Thomson, 09 Aug 2014
Coco with WarKitteh collar

Beware WarKitteh, the connected cat that sniffs your Wi-Fi privates

An inventive security researcher has successfully tested a war-driving kitty collar – so its wearer can prowl around the neighborhood exposing the lamentable state of Wi-Fi security. WarKitteh collar Wardriving cat couture. Credit: Gene Bransfield Gene Bransfield, a security researcher with Tenacity, told El Reg that while he …
Iain Thomson, 09 Aug 2014
Fail and You

Oracle Database 12c's data redaction security smashed live on stage

Oracle’s much-ballyhooed data redaction feature in Database 12c is easy to subvert without needing to use exploit code, attendees at Defcon 22 in Las Vegas have heard. The redaction features in 12c are designed to automatically protect sensitive database material by either totally obscuring column data or partially masking it – …
Iain Thomson, 08 Aug 2014
Data breach image

'Up to two BEEELLION' mobes easily hacked by evil base stations

The mechanisms used to update smartphone operating systems over the air are vulnerable to hijacking and abuse, researchers have claimed. Speaking at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, the infosec bods believe up to two billion handsets are at risk, and that in some cases patches for the flaw still haven't been …
Iain Thomson, 08 Aug 2014
Moments of perspiration

DON'T PANIC! Satellite comms hacking won't be able to crash an aircraft

Nervous fliers have one less thing to worry about after it turns out that, despite some alarmist reports, hackers won't be making planes fall out of the sky any time soon. The sensational headlines came after reporters learned that Ruben Santamarta, a consultant with security firm IOActive, was going to talk at Black Hat about …
Iain Thomson, 08 Aug 2014
australian credit cards fraud contactless

Americans to be guinea pigs in vast chip-and-PIN security experiment

Next year US banks will begin a wide-scale rollout of chip-and-PIN bank cards, just 11 years after the UK made it mandatory. In doing so, Americans will take part in a vast experiment to test chip-and-PIN against chip-and-sign when it comes to stamping out money thieves. Not every US bank is keen on the PIN system, so some …
Iain Thomson, 07 Aug 2014
PureVLC D-Light

Cracker takes control of 200 rooms in Chinese hotel

A security consultant staying in the St Regis hotel in the Chinese city of Shenzhen got bored one night and successfully commandeered the controls of 200 rooms thanks to an insecure automation protocol. Jesus Molina, a former chair of the Trusted Computing Group and independent security consultant, was staying in the hotel and …
Iain Thomson, 07 Aug 2014
ferrari enzo crash

Car hackers build kit to protect you and your motor from fiery death

At last year’s Black Hat USA, Charlie Miller, security engineer at Twitter and Apple-cracker extraordinaire, and Chris Valasek, director of security intelligence at IOActive, showed delegates how to hack a car. This year they demoed a system that can stop any such hacks dead. Over the past 12 months, the duo have been going …
Iain Thomson, 07 Aug 2014
Dan Geer

CIA infosec guru: US govt must buy all zero-days and set them free

Computer security luminary Dan Geer has proposed a radical shakeup of the software industry in hope of avoiding total disaster online. Geer played a crucial role in the development of the X Window System and the Kerberos authentication protocol, and is now the chief security officer of the CIA’s VC fund In-Q-Tel. And during the …
Iain Thomson, 07 Aug 2014
Rosetta

Astounding: We're about to stick a probe in orbit of a COMET

The European Space Agency will be on tenterhooks tonight as the Rosetta space probe reaches its final destination and begins the burn sequence that will put a man-made spacecraft in orbit around a comet for the first time. After a much-delayed launch in 2004, Rosetta has spent the last ten years chasing through the solar system …
Iain Thomson, 06 Aug 2014
US Military hacking team

US cyber-army's cyber-warriors 'cyber-humiliated by cyber-civvies in cyber-games'

The US military held a series of online war games to pit reservist hackers against its active-duty cyber-warriors – and the results weren't pretty for the latter, we're told. US Military hacking team "Have you tried turning it off and then on again?" "The active-duty team didn’t even know how they’d been attacked. They were …
Iain Thomson, 05 Aug 2014
Slick looking picture of  xiaomi's Mi3 Android smartphone

Home-grown Xiaomi crushes Samsung in world's biggest market

Chinese smartphone startup Xiaomi, whose turtleneck-clad CEO models himself on Steve Jobs (before Jobs died), has become the Middle Kingdom's largest seller of smartphones – outselling even former China top dog Samsung. "This is a phenomenal achievement for Xiaomi," said Shanghai-based Canalys Research Analyst Jingwen Wang, …
Iain Thomson, 05 Aug 2014
2001: A Space Odyssey

HUMAN RACE PERIL: Not nukes, it'll be AI that kills us off, warns Musk

Multibillionaire tech ace Elon Musk has a bee in his bonnet about the threat to humanity from ... artificial intelligence. And since he's a major investor in the technology, he ought to know. Worth reading Superintelligence by Bostrom. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes. — Elon Musk (@ …
Iain Thomson, 05 Aug 2014
EmDrive space motor

NASA tests crazytech flying saucer thruster, could reach Mars in days

NASA has tested an "impossible" electric space drive that uses no propellant – and found it works even when it is designed not to. EmDrive space motor The EmDrive space engine ... a long time coming This has sparked immediate skepticism of the technology. The system is designed to use microwave energy reflected along a …
Iain Thomson, 04 Aug 2014
Presidetn Obama signs the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

It's official: You can now legally carrier-unlock your mobile in the US

President Obama has signed off on the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, meaning that, in the US, people can take their mobile phone and unlock it from the carrier that sold it to them. President Obama signs the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act President Obama signs the Unlocking …
Iain Thomson, 02 Aug 2014
Rosetta

We sent a probe SIX BILLION km to measure temperature of a COMET doing 135,000 km/h

The comet-chasing spacecraft Rosetta has got close enough to its target to start getting temperature readings. The results show that comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko isn't the snowball some boffins were expecting. Between 13 and 21 July Rosetta moved within 5,000 kilometers of the rapidly spinning comet and used its visible, …
Iain Thomson, 02 Aug 2014
Facebook drowning

Facebook goes down, people dial 911

Facebook's servers fell over today – with users on the US east coast, and in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, complaining of outages. Facebook outage map Oh noes! Circles mark areas of connectivity problems ... Click for bigger map. Source: IsItDownRightNow.com According to IsItDownRightNow.com, the downtime appears to …
Iain Thomson, 01 Aug 2014

CIA super-spy so sorry spies spied on Senate's torture scrutiny PCs

CIA Director John Brennan has apologized after his staff snooped on computers used by the US Senate during a probe into spies' use of torture. Brennan was speaking at a closed meeting with senators on Thursday. The computers were on a secure network known as RDINet, which was set up by the CIA to store classified documents for …
Iain Thomson, 01 Aug 2014

Plug and PREY: Hackers reprogram USB drives to silently infect PCs

Researchers say they have managed to reprogram the firmware within some flash drives with malicious code – code executed by the gadget's micro-controller to ultimately install malware on a PC or redirect network traffic without a victim knowing. Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell, from German security skunkworks SR Labs, spent months …
Iain Thomson, 31 Jul 2014
Teh second version of Curiosity for Mars

Mars rover 2020: Oxygen generation and 6 more amazing experiments

NASA's next Mars rover will convert the Red Planet's atmosphere into oxygen – and collect rocks for return to Earth, see half a kilometre under the surface, and use stereo cameras to send back unprecedented snaps of the bleak world. Mars rover 2020 Curiosity v2.0 getting ready to roll (click to enlarge) At a press …
Iain Thomson, 31 Jul 2014

NASA boffin: RIDDLE of odd BULGE FOUND on MOON is SOLVED

An analysis of the shape of the Moon has shown it is not actually a sphere – but is in fact slightly lemon-shaped. This has revealed important clues as to how the Earth's satellite body formed (and no, it still doesn't involve any cheese). A paper published in the July 30 issue of Nature by Ian Garrick-Bethell – an assistant …
Iain Thomson, 31 Jul 2014

AMD dangles 64-bit ARM code developer kit over, well ... developers

AMD has been promising shipments of its 64-bit ARM-based server chips, code-named "Seattle", for the end of the year but now you can get hold of one with the firm's latest developer kit release. From Wednesday those with the cash can hand over $2,999 to AMD and in return get the AMD Opteron A1100-series developer kit …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jul 2014
Chromebox for Meetings

Google Hangouts get down to business – and all dressed to the nines

Google's voice conference system Hangouts is being smartened up in the hope of breaking into the business market. Google will put Hangouts on a par with the rest of its stuff online – and promises 99.9 per cent uptime with 24/7 telephone support if something does go wrong. In addition, Hangout users will no longer need a …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jul 2014
Facebook Messenger app

Facebook: Want to stay in touch? Then it's Messenger or NOTHING

If you're used to sending messages to Facebook friends, enjoy it while you can – Facebook plans to kill the feature on mobile clients and force users to download its Messenger app instead. "In the next few days, we're continuing to notify more people that if they want to send and receive Facebook messages, they'll need to …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jul 2014

Senate introduces USA FREEDOM Act to curb NSA spying excesses

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has introduced the USA FREEDOM Act to the US Senate and claims, that, if passed, the legislation will severely curtail the amount of mass surveillance that can be carried out by the NSA and others – provided you're a citizen of the land of the free. "This is a debate about Americans' fundamental …
Iain Thomson, 29 Jul 2014