Iain Thomson

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Prof Hawking cracks riddle of black holes – which may be portals to other universes

Professor Stephen Hawking thinks he has solved the 40-year-old information paradox – a conundrum of what happens to matter in black holes. Matter that gets sucked into a black hole was thought to be destroyed by the immense forces involved, as per the theory of general relativity. However, that's a problem from a quantum …
Iain Thomson, 25 Aug 2015
Lava pit

Fiery old geysers FOUND ON MOON: Volcanic past explained

The night sky on Earth in its early years was very different, with our Moon glowing red with fire in the sky. Now scientists think they've worked out why. Back when the Moon was forming, the surface was alive with fiery geysers that spurted molten rock high in the low-gravity skies as the orbiting mass cooled and crusted over …
Iain Thomson, 25 Aug 2015
MultiFab products

Still 3D printing with one material? We can use TEN, say MIT eggheads

Video Designers at MIT have used off-the-shelf components and some nifty software to build a cheap combination 3D printer and scanner unit that can use ten different materials at a time. Youtube Video Multi-material 3D printers aren't new, of course, just very, very expensive – typically costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. …
Iain Thomson, 25 Aug 2015

Court rules FTC can prosecute companies over lax online security

The Third Circuit US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has ruled that the Federal Trade Commission does have the right to prosecute firms who mishandle their customers' data. Between 2008 and 2009, hotel chain Wyndham Worldwide – which runs hotels under the Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Super 8, and Travelodge brands – …
Iain Thomson, 25 Aug 2015

Manhattan-sized iceberg splits from glacier – and spotted FROM SPACE

Pic One of Earth's biggest icebergs ever seen has been discovered by orbiting satellites. The huge freeze-blob was just carved out from Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier, and slid into the ocean. Greenland iceberg That's enough ice for a lot of gin and tonics The iceberg was formed between August 14 and 16, and was caught on …
Iain Thomson, 24 Aug 2015
Blackmail

More deaths linked to Ashley Madison hack as scammers move in

The Ashley Madison leak may have driven another two people to suicide, police in Toronto, Canada, fear. And scammers are harassing anyone named in the databases, which were swiped from the website by hackers and published online. Word of the two Ashley Madison-linked deaths in Canada came after a government worker in San …
Iain Thomson, 24 Aug 2015
sniper

US military says it will discipline Ashley Madison users

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has said the military will investigate email addresses signed up to the Ashley Madison website to determine if improper conduct has taken place. Military.com reports Carter saying "Yes, the services are looking into it, as well they should be. Of course it's an issue because conduct is very …
Iain Thomson, 21 Aug 2015
Microsoft monopoly

Microsoft sues InterDigital for 'monopoly power' over mobile patents

Microsoft has sued for relief from patent demands made by InterDigital ahead of a decision in August by the US International Trade Commission that could see Lumia phones barred from crossing America's borders. InterDigital holds several patents for technologies that must be included in standards-compliant 3G and 4G comms …
Iain Thomson, 21 Aug 2015

And it begins: Ashley Madison bonk-seekers urged to lawyer up

It's been barely 48 hours since the Ashley Madison database of millions of fling-seekers was leaked online, and already the lawsuits are flying. Canadian legal eagles* working at Charney Lawyers and fellow practice Sutts, Strosberg LLP will sue fellow Canuck company Ashley Madison over the security and privacy breach. For the …
Iain Thomson, 21 Aug 2015

Ex-Prez Bush, Cheney sued for email, phone spying during Olympics

Ex-US president George W Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and senior law enforcement officials have been named in a class-action lawsuit for authorizing blanket phone, email, and text message surveillance of Utah citizens during the 2002 Winter Olympics. In 2013 the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI and NSA had …
Iain Thomson, 20 Aug 2015

Now Ashley Madison hackers reveal 'CEO's emails and source code'

Updated Another load of internal files swiped by hackers from Ashley Madison have been leaked online – and they apparently feature the CEO's emails and the website's source code. The 18.5GB leak includes, it is claimed, archives of internal company emails, including one folder labeled Noel Biderman – the chief exec of Avid Life Media …
Iain Thomson, 20 Aug 2015
Dunce's cap graffiti by https://www.flickr.com/photos/lord-jim/ cc 2.0 attribution https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Ashley Madison files – are people really this stupid?

Comment2 It has been a depressing and enlightening day at El Reg's San Francisco office as we've been churning through the Ashley Madison databases, and a recurrent theme echoing around the room is: "How could people be so stupid?" It's not the cheating per se – let's not get started on the morals of it all – but it's clear that many …
Iain Thomson, 20 Aug 2015
Radar O'Reilly

Software update borked radar, delayed hundreds of flights, says US FAA

The Federal Aviation Administration has blamed a software upgrade to its next-generation radar system for the hundreds of delayed and cancelled flights from Washington DC airports on Saturday. "The FAA identified a recent software upgrade at the Leesburg, VA high-altitude radar facility as the source of Saturday's automation …
Iain Thomson, 19 Aug 2015
Pinky and the Brain

Boffins raise five-week-old fetal human brain in the lab for experimentation

A scientific team in Ohio has managed to raise the most complete human brain yet, and plan to use it for testing drugs and trying to understand autism. The brain is at the same stage of development as a five-week-old fetus and contains 99 per cent of the same cells that you'd find in an in-utero equivalent. It's about the size …
Iain Thomson, 19 Aug 2015

Adulterers antsy as 'entire' Ashley Madison databases leak online

Hackers at the Impact Team have apparently carried out their threat to publish the customer databases of Ashley Madison – a hookup website designed for those who want to cheat on their partners. In July, the hackers announced that they had successfully scraped the servers of Ashley Madison, and its sister site Established Men …
Iain Thomson, 18 Aug 2015
Amateur astronomer Waldemar Skorupa recorded this image from Kahler Asten, in Germany, on November 16, 2013. Credit: Waldemar Skorupa (Kahler Asten, Germany), via spaceweather.com

Snowball spud gun shows comets could have seeded Earth with life

Scientists have been speculating for years now that comets might have seeded life on Earth, but a Japanese team has performed an experiment that shows it's a valid possibility. Dr Haruna Sugahara from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology in Yokohama, and Dr Koichi Mimura from Nagoya University built …
Iain Thomson, 18 Aug 2015
The structure of a solid battery

Boffins dump the fluids to build solid state lithium battery

Researchers at MIT and Samsung have built a battery that eschews the use of liquid electrolytes in favor of a solid state substance that offers some serious benefits. Most commercial lithium-ion batteries use a liquid electrolyte to transport charged particles and provide power. But there are problems with this – the liquid …
Iain Thomson, 18 Aug 2015
Kirk and Spock contemplate castles built in the air

Captain, dark energy sensor readings show dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way

Astronomy teams at the University of Cambridge and America's Fermilab looking for evidence of dark matter have spotted eight (relatively) tiny galaxies orbiting our Milky Way. "DES is finding galaxies so faint that they would have been very difficult to recognize in previous surveys," said Keith Bechtol of the University of …
Iain Thomson, 18 Aug 2015
Cookie Monster

Anti-privacy unkillable super-cookies spreading around the world – study

At least nine telcos around the world are using so-called super-cookies to secretly monitor citizens' online behavior, according to a new study. A super-cookie is a token unique to each subscriber that is injected into every HTTP request made through a telco's cellphone networks. They can't be stripped by the user: every time …
Iain Thomson, 17 Aug 2015

Surprise! World stunned to learn that AT&T is in the NSA's pocket

It has long been known that AT&T works with the NSA to monitor the internet traffic and call data in the US and overseas. Now, new files leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden show the company is by far the agency's biggest spying partner. The document trove, published by ProPublica and The New York Times, doesn't mention AT&T …
Iain Thomson, 17 Aug 2015
Eugene Kaspersky in Sydney

I've seen Kaspersky slap his staff with a walrus penis – and even I doubt the false-positive claims

Comment Eugene Kaspersky is a complex character and capable of many things, but Friday's allegations that he ordered staff to deliberately sabotage rival antivirus packages smells fishy. On the one hand, the problem of AV products flagging up false positives is well known. Signature-file detection of software nasties is dated, and of …
Iain Thomson, 15 Aug 2015
51 Eridani b

Boffins spot a SECOND JUPITER – the gas giant's baby sister

Pic Pictures from the universe-scanning Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) show a young Jupiter-like world that formed just 20 million years ago. That's well after the dinosaurs became extinct on grand old Earth. Gemini spots the planet 51 Eridani b ... Superb imaging from Gemini The young gas giant, dubbed 51 Eridani b, is about …
Iain Thomson, 14 Aug 2015

Ex-SAP director: I bribed govt officials to seal the deals on software

A former regional director of German enterprise software outfit SAP has pleaded guilty to bribing officials in the Panamanian government to secure a contract for one of the company's resellers. Vicente Eduardo Garcia, 65, of Miami, Florida, admitted giving $145,000 in bribes to one government official and promising bribes to …
Iain Thomson, 14 Aug 2015
Bear

Riddle solved: Do bears crap in the woods? No – they're stressing out over drones instead

Vid Bears, those savage and fearless predators of the wild, are driven to distraction by hovering unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs aka drones). Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been studying local black bears using iridium satellite GPS collars fitted with heart-rate monitors, and a drone to keep track of them from …
Iain Thomson, 14 Aug 2015
android logo

Google flubs patch for Stagefright security bug in 950 million Androids

Google's security update to fix the Stagefright vulnerability in millions of Android smartphones is buggy – and a new patch is needed. The Stagefright flaw is named after a component within the Android operating system that, among other things, processes incoming text messages that contain video clips. By sending a vulnerable …
Iain Thomson, 13 Aug 2015
Dell Chromebook

Dell, Google dangle Chromebooks over IT bosses sick of Windows

Pic Google’s Chromebooks are just over four year old and, while the hardware has done well in education, businesses and normal people haven’t been too keen. In response, the ad giant has teamed up with Dell to fix this with a line of Chromebooks for business. Rajen Sheth, director of product management for Android and Chrome for …
Iain Thomson, 13 Aug 2015

Apple and Google are KILLING KIDS with encryption, whine lawyers

Children are being raped, citizens murdered, and lost souls trafficked for sex and the police can't do anything about it thanks to Apple and Google, senior government lawyers and a top cop have claimed. In an op-ed in The New York Times, Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr; Adrian Leppard, commissioner of the City of …
Iain Thomson, 12 Aug 2015
Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton kept top-secret SIGINT emails on her home email server

Hillary Clinton's personal email server and one of her thumb drives held emails containing classified and top-secret information. That's according to a note by the US Intelligence Community Inspector General. While US Secretary of State, Clinton had access to American intelligence. It appears some of Uncle Sam's sensitive …
Iain Thomson, 12 Aug 2015
Galaxy RGG 118

Put it away: Dwarf's 'supermassive' marvel is actually smallest thing boffins have ever seen

At the heart of every large galaxy resides a supermassive black hole, and astroboffins have found the smallest one yet – about 340 million light years away. "In a sense, it's a teeny supermassive black hole," said Elena Gallo, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and …
Iain Thomson, 11 Aug 2015
White Hat for Hackers by Zeevveez, Flickr under CC2.0

Ten years after the sellout, Black Hat is solidly corporate and that’s fine

Analysis When Jeff Moss sold the Black Hat security conference to CMP a decade ago for around $13m (£8.3m), he faced a barrage of abuse from some members of the hacker community as a sellout. They were a little bit right, and a lot wrong, as this year's cons have shown. Black Hat was always supposed to be a little bit corporate anyway …
Iain Thomson, 11 Aug 2015

Intel left a fascinating security flaw in its chips for 16 years – here's how to exploit it

Black Hat In-Depth A design flaw in Intel's processors can be exploited to install malware beneath operating systems and antivirus – making it tough to detect and remove. "It's a forgotten patch to a forgotten problem, but opens up an incredible vulnerability," said Christopher Domas, a security researcher with the Battelle Memorial Institute, …
Iain Thomson, 11 Aug 2015
A woman on Mars?

'WOMAN FOUND ON MARS' – now obvious men are from Venus

Pics Yet again citizen observers have spotted something odd on Mars – this time what appears to be a woman in a long flowing gown standing on a cliff face. Martian woman The truth is out there; or maybe not "It looks like a woman partly cloaked. The woman seems to have breasts... indicated by the shadow on its chest," reports …
Iain Thomson, 10 Aug 2015
Google's Sundar Pichai, speaking at Google I/O 2015

W is for WTF: Google CEO quits, new biz Alphabet takes over

+Comment Google CEO Larry Page has quit day-to-day management of the web giant, and made Sundar Pichai chief exec. Page and fellow Google cofounder Sergey Brin, both multibillionaires, will head up a new company called Alphabet, which will wholly own Google. "Sundar has been saying the things I would have said (and sometimes better!) …
Iain Thomson, 10 Aug 2015
Android hanging

Another day, another stunning security flaw in Android – this time hitting 55% of mobes

Video Fresh from sorting out the Stagefright flaw, Google has another serious security vulnerability in Android on its hands. A privilege escalation hole allows normal apps to gain superpowers to snoop on a device's owner, smuggle in malware, and wreak other havoc. Youtube Video The vulnerability, CVE-2015-3825, affects about 55 …
Iain Thomson, 10 Aug 2015
Tesla job offer at DEF CON

Tesla tech top dog downs slug, hikes bug bounty to $10k

DEF CON 23 It takes guts to own up to your mistakes and Tesla’s CTO showed plenty when he arrived on stage at DEF CON to personally thank the hackers who uncovered six serious vulns in the Model S sedan. And in @_defcon_ tradition, first-time speaker JB gets to take a shot on stage with @dropalltables and @marcwrogers pic.twitter.com/ …
Iain Thomson, 09 Aug 2015

A close shave: How to destroy your hard drives without burning down the data centre

DEF CON 23 Four years ago at DEF CON a popular presentation examined how best to destroy hard drives in a data centre within 60 seconds of a three-letter agency knocking at the door. Now, that research has been updated with new techniques. Security researcher Zoz looked at three core methods for destroying platter and SSD drives – …
Iain Thomson, 09 Aug 2015
Broken skateboard

Beware, skateboarders! Hackers can switch your 'leccy plank into reverse at warp speed

DEF CON 23 Boosted electric skateboard fans will need to get patching after hackers exposed a flaw that can send them into reverse at maximum power. The hack – demonstrated at DEF CON in Las Vegas this week – was the brainchild of Richo Healey, a security engineer at Stripe, who was using his 'leccy board in Melbourne when he realised he …
Iain Thomson, 09 Aug 2015
DeathWish, Charles Bronson

It's incredibly easy to bump someone off online, and here's how to do it – infosec bod

DEF CON 23 Most of us have had occasional fantasies about killing someone. Now, as governments demand more personal information from citizens online, it has apparently become surprisingly easy to turn that fantasy into a reality, at least on paper – courtesy of some glaring loopholes. Or so says infosec bod Chris Rock, who presented his …
Iain Thomson, 08 Aug 2015
IMME

Hack a garage and the car inside with a child's toy and a few chips

DEF CON 23 Last month, pro hacker Samy Kamkar caused a kerfuffle at General Motors when he successfully hacked the car giant's RemoteLink mobile app to unlock and start vehicles, and now he's explained how it's done – and how to get into the garage that houses a target car. Speaking at a packed DEF CON talk on Friday, Kamkar explained …
Iain Thomson, 08 Aug 2015
Cory Doctorow

Death to DRM, we'll kill it in a decade, chants EFF

DEF CON 23 The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has used the DEF CON hacking conference to launch a campaign to stamp out digital-rights management (DRM) technology. In an ironic twist, the cyber-rights warriors hope to use the hated Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to kill off mechanisms that attempt to thwart piracy and …
Iain Thomson, 07 Aug 2015
Katherine Archuleta

Ransacked US OPM wins Pwnie Award for 'Most EPIC Fail'

Black Hat 2015 For the past nine years Black Hat has staged its Pwnie Awards, devoted to recognizing the best and worst aspects of computer security, and this year's winner of the least welcome award is the US government's Office of Personnel Management. The OPM won in the "Most EPIC Fail" category after hackers, possibly from the Chinese …
Iain Thomson, 06 Aug 2015

How the Arab Spring blew the lid off the commercial spyware

Black Hat 2015 When Middle Eastern governments fell in the Arab Spring uprisings, one of the side effects was that hard evidence of dodgy practices by commercial spyware vendors was made public. Unfortunately, the result is putting us all at risk. Documents uncovered when the Mubarak regime fell showed that the Egyptians had bought …
Iain Thomson, 06 Aug 2015

Hacker-friendly Chrysler hauled into court for class-action showdown

Black Hat 2015 Fiat Chrysler is facing a class-action lawsuit in the US after researchers proved they could wirelessly snatch control of the engine management systems in some of its vehicles. The lawsuit, filed in the southern district of Illinois, claims Chrysler knew the networking systems in its cars were insecure. The motoring giant …
Iain Thomson, 06 Aug 2015
Sim card

Researchers look sideways to crack SIM card AES-128 encryption

Black Hat 2015 In February, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA and GCHQ hacked one of the world’s biggest SIM card manufacturers to clone cards and crack encryption, but research revealed at Black Hat shows they needn’t have bothered. Yu Yu (yes, that is my real name, he joked) is a research professor with Shanghai Jiao Tong …
Iain Thomson, 06 Aug 2015

Hacking Team Flash exploit leak revealed lightning reflexes of malware toolkit crafters

Black Hat 2015 When the Italian surveillanceware maker Hacking Team got hacked last month, the intruders unwittingly set the groundwork for a very interesting research project. Tracking the time from a vulnerability being found in some software to seeing it exploited in the wild is tricky – malware writers don't often publicize their …
Iain Thomson, 05 Aug 2015
Adrian Ludwig

Biggest security update in history coming up: Google patches Android hijack bug Stagefright

Black Hat 2015 For those of you worried about the Stagefright flaw in Android, be reassured, a patch will be coming down the line in the next few days. "My guess is that this is the single largest software update the world has ever seen," said Adrian Ludwig, lead engineer for Android security at Google. "Hundreds of millions of devices are …
Iain Thomson, 05 Aug 2015
Jeff Moss

IT security staff have a job for life – possibly a grim, frustrating life

Black Hat 2015 Speaking at the opening of the 18th Black Hat security conference, its founder Jeff Moss warned the assembled throng that while they might have job security, they weren't going to have fun in the next decade. "We are all employed for life," Moss said. "It's interesting, I see problems and challenges and on one hand am really …
Iain Thomson, 05 Aug 2015

Remember Impero, the school software biz that went ape over a vuln? Someone's got revenge

Video Nottinghamshire-based software biz Impero has a lot of recycling to do – after hacker-turned-security-researcher Cal Leeming delivered over 9,000 paper copies of a vulnerability to the company's headquarters as a protest. Youtube Video A few weeks ago, Impero hit the headlines when it threatened to sue someone called …
Iain Thomson, 05 Aug 2015
Epson EcoTank

Epson: Cheap printers, expensive ink? Let's turn that upside down

There can't be many printer owners who haven't had an apoplectic fit about the outrageous cost of inks for their machines, and now Epson is trying to change that business model and lower the cost of printing. Traditionally printer manufacturers have sold their hardware at a loss and made the money back over the lifecycle of …
Iain Thomson, 04 Aug 2015
Tin

Playing with graphene? All the cool kids are using TIN – atom-thick sheets of stanene

Researchers at Stanford have laid down the first atom-thick sheet of tin, and it has the potential to revolutionize electronics thanks to its unique power propagation properties. The material has been dubbed stanene, a contraction of the Latin word for tin "stannum" and the "ene" suffix used for 2D materials. It does for the …
Iain Thomson, 04 Aug 2015