Iain Thomson

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Headshot of Trojan horse

Does your mate send smut vids on Facebook? 1. That's a bit weird. 2. It may be malware

A security researcher is warning of an ongoing attack against Facebook users in which a phony Flash Player download tries to take over their computers. The distribution mechanism is fairly commonplace – a video message purporting to be pornography is sent to someone on Facebook, and suggests a Flash upgrade is required to play …
Iain Thomson, 31 Jan 2015
windows 10 microsoft one windows

Microsoft tells big biz: No free Windows 10 for you, crack wallets open

Microsoft has confirmed that, unlike your average Alice and Bob, enterprises won't get a free upgrade to Windows 10 when the new operating system is finally released. "Customers running Windows 7 Pro and Windows 8/8.1 Pro, like small businesses, have an opportunity to upgrade to Windows 10 for free in the first year," said Jim …
Iain Thomson, 31 Jan 2015
Shaun of the Dead

Super-cookie crumbles: Verizon will kill off HATED zombie stalkers

Verizon has backed down over its fingerprinting of customers using so-called immortal "super cookies." In 2012, the US mobile telco started injecting unique identifying headers (UIDHs) into every HTTP request users made to websites via the Verizon network. This allowed sneaky ad agencies to recognize people as they moved from …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jan 2015
botnet

We take bots down, but they get up again – you're never going to keep them down

A combined attack on one of the world's biggest networks of infected PCs has been partially successful: analysis from Dell SecureWorks shows you can't keep a bad botnet down. In 2013 infosec bods and the feds together disrupted the ZeroAccess network, which used a remotely controlled collection of more than two million slaved …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jan 2015
Facebook Place Tips

Kill Facebook's creepy on-by-default Yelp 'killer' Place Tips – your guide

Facebook is rolling out Place Tips for its iOS app that tracks users' whereabouts and inserts information about nearby businesses and points of interest into their news feed. The Yelp-ish "feature" – which is turned on by default if you have location-tracking switched on – uses GPS, cell towers, and Wi-Fi to pinpoint the user' …
Iain Thomson, 29 Jan 2015
Charles Townes

Charles Townes, inventor of the laser and friend to both science and religion, dies

Obituary Charles Hard Townes, one of the winners of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for developing the laser and a pivotal player in astronomy and reconciling science and religion, has died at the age of 99 after a brief illness. "Charlie Townes had an enormous impact on physics and society in general. Our department and all of UC …
Iain Thomson, 29 Jan 2015
First Charlie Hebdo cover after attack. copyright: charlie hebdo

Facebook kills pic of Mohammed weeks after Zuck's Je suis Charlie!

Earlier this month, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed that his social network, used by millions, was a free-speech zone. "As I reflect on the attack and my own experience with extremism, this is what we all need to reject – a group of extremists trying to silence the voices and …
Iain Thomson, 29 Jan 2015
FCC logo

Let's be clear, everyone: DON'T BLOCK Wi-Fi, DUH – FCC official ruling

US watchdog the FCC has ruled that no one – not even hotels and other commercial outfits – can block or ban personal Wi-Fi hotspots. "The [FCC's] Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the …
Iain Thomson, 28 Jan 2015
Rings around distant planet

Excitement in boffinry circles as GIGANTIC ALIEN RING BLOTS OUT SUN

Pics The first planetary ring system outside of our Solar System has been spotted and it's massive – in fact, it's 120 million kilometers in diameter. "This planet is much larger than Jupiter or Saturn, and its ring system is roughly 200 times larger than Saturn's rings are today," said Eric Mamajek, professor of physics and …
Iain Thomson, 28 Jan 2015

FUMBLE! NFL app drops privacy ball just before Super Bowl Sunday

With Superbowl Sunday approaching, interest in the ritualized combat that is American football is peaking for the year – but fans of the action may be letting hackers slurp their personal details. An analysis of the National Football League phone app by mobile internet biz Wandera has shown that whoever wrote the software didn't …
Iain Thomson, 27 Jan 2015

Another day, yet another emergency Adobe Flash patch. Because that's how we live now

The new year hasn't been a pleasant one for Adobe: the Silicon Valley firm has scrambled to close yet more serious security holes in its Flash player. Last week the Photoshop biz rushed out a patch for a critical flaw in Flash that miscreants were exploiting in the wild to hijack victims' computers. Today, a new update has been …
Iain Thomson, 27 Jan 2015
White House drone

Secret Service on alert after drone CRASHES into White House

The US Secret Service is investigating how a drone came to crash into the White House in the early hours of Monday morning. The two-foot quadcopter drone invaded White House airspace at around 3am and crashed on the southeast side of the presidential property, prompting a security lock-down by Secret Service agents. President …
Iain Thomson, 27 Jan 2015
ISS against a spring moon

NASA greenlights SpaceX and Boeing to carry crew to ISS in 2017

Crew and cargo resupply missions will be launched from US soil by 2017, with SpaceX and Boeing both sending rival systems into low Earth orbit from now on. "I don't ever want to write another check to Roscosmos after 2017," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at a press conference at the Johnson Space Center, referring to the …
Iain Thomson, 26 Jan 2015
ISS against a spring moon

NASA greenlights SpaceX and Boeing to carry crew to ISS in 2017

Crew and cargo resupply missions will be launched from US soil by 2017, with SpaceX and Boeing both sending rival systems into low Earth orbit from now on. "I don't ever want to write another check to Roscosmos after 2017," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at a press conference at the Johnson Space Center, referring to the …
Iain Thomson, 26 Jan 2015
Sheriff Woody

NSA gunning for Google, wants cop-spotting dropped from Waze app

The US National Sheriffs' Association wants Google to block its crowd-sourced traffic app Waze from being able to report the position of police officers, saying the information is putting officer's lives at risk. "The police community needs to coordinate an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the responsible corporate …
Iain Thomson, 26 Jan 2015
Artist's conception of a watery asteroid being torn apart white dwarf GD 61

ATTACK of the FLYING MOUNTAIN: 2004 BL86 goes by like a BULLET

NASA has warned skywatchers that a huge asteroid will pass over European and North American skies on Monday and that it will be the biggest space rock to do a fly-by of our planet until 2027. Most asteroids that pass us are smallish, between 50 and 100 meters wide. This latest visitor, asteroid 2004 BL86, is half a kilometer (0. …
Iain Thomson, 24 Jan 2015
Atlas

Atlas unplugged! DARPA's unTerminator robot cuts the power cable

Atlas, the 6ft 2in (1.88m), 345lb (156kg) humanoid machine being used in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC), has had an extensive upgrade and is now free to roam on battery power alone, the defense research group has said. Youtube Video The original Atlas, designed by Boston Dynamics (now owned by Google) in 2013, was an all- …
Iain Thomson, 23 Jan 2015
Barratt Brown

FBI-baiter Barrett Brown gets five years in chokey plus $890,000 fine

Barrett Brown is going to be spending a little longer inside than he thought after a Dallas judge threw the book at him on charges related to the hacking attack on private US intelligence firm Stratfor. Lawyers for Brown had been hoping their client would get off with time served, as he has spent the last 28 months in federal …
Iain Thomson, 23 Jan 2015
Hololens

Hola HoloLens: Reg man gets face time with Microsoft's holographic headset

First look During Microsoft's Windows 10 preview day, select groups of hacks were stripped of any recording devices or cameras and sent down into the bowels of Building 92 of Redmond's campus to try out the software giant's new "hologramatic" wearable – dubbed the HoloLens. The headset fits glasses over your eyes and projects holograms …
Iain Thomson, 23 Jan 2015
Windows 10

Windows 10: The Microsoft rule-o-three holds, THIS time it's looking DECENT

Analysis The old adage that you never install a Microsoft product until version three appears to be holding true in operating systems with Windows 10. Windows 8 was a disaster, Windows 8.1 a waystation, but Windows 10 is looking like a very solid system. "We want people to love Windows on a daily basis," said CEO Satya Nadella at …
Iain Thomson, 22 Jan 2015
Hololens

SCREW you, GLASSHOLES! Microsoft unveils HoloLens

Windows 10 will include full support for a new piece of Microsoft hardware – the HoloLens – Microsoft's first foray into augmenting reality with holograms. The HoloLens headset includes its own CPU and GPU, along with a third, "holographic" processor. The device has transparent eyepieces onto which can be displayed hologram …
Iain Thomson, 21 Jan 2015
Bart Simpson

Microsoft will give away Windows 10 FREE - for ONE year

Microsoft is planning a big push for Windows 10 and will be giving away the new operating system to Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8 users in the first year of release. "With Windows 10, we think of the operating system as 'Windows as a service'," said Terry Myerson, Microsoft's VP of operating systems. "In next few …
Iain Thomson, 21 Jan 2015
Graphic depicting the Cluster satellite constellation in action. Credit: ESA

Tap sat app gap, yaps Inmarsat chap: Orbiting bird API opened to devs

Satellite communications oldie Inmarsat is to open up its systems to third-party developers – and wants them to create new ways to use its communications grid to link ships, aircraft, and machine-to-machine data traffic. "We have been providing global mobile connectivity for decades and want to leverage this position to …
Iain Thomson, 21 Jan 2015
Zombie rising from the grave

Ad agency Turn turns off Verizon's zombie cookies

Online advertising agency Turn has promised to stop using repurposed Verizon undeletable cookies to track people's online habits and sell them stuff. For the last couple of years Verizon has been injecting a "unique identifier token header" (UIDH) into HTTP requests sent by customers online. It then sells that data to …
Iain Thomson, 21 Jan 2015

2014 in infosec: Spammers sneak small botnets under the wire, Java is dull

Cisco's annual report on the state of global cybersecurity claims spammers just won't die and are using new tactics to avoid detection by filters; malware programmers are abandoning exploiting Java; and there's a possible silver cloud in the Sony Pictures hacking storm. The networking giant saw malware-carrying spam up 250 per …
Iain Thomson, 20 Jan 2015
Tony Montana on the phone in Scarface

US drug squad cops: We snooped on innocent Americans' phone calls too!

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has admitted that for years it kept a secret log of phone calls made by American citizens calling overseas. Much like the secret NSA and FBI databases, the DEA got its information under subpoena from American telecommunications companies, irrespective of whether or not the target had …
Iain Thomson, 17 Jan 2015

Saudi govt pauses flogging dad-of-3 for Facebook posts – after docs intervene

It's been a case of one step forward and two steps back for Raif Badawi, the Saudi man facing 10 years in prison, and 1,000 lashes, for posting that he was an atheist and supporter of women's rights on Facebook and running a web forum for liberal Saudis. Last Friday, Badawi received the first 50 of his 1,000-lash sentence in …
Iain Thomson, 16 Jan 2015
Falcon explodes

Elon Musk: Wanna see a multimillion-dollar rocket EXPLODE? WATCH THIS

Vid SpaceX boss Elon Musk has released video footage of the catastrophic attempt to land one of his multimillion-dollar Falcon 9 rockets on a floating ocean spaceport – revealing why the landing barge looked quite so toasted. This was the first attempt to land and secure the reusable stage of a Falcon 9 rocket after it had …
Iain Thomson, 16 Jan 2015
Bank vault

Ex-Apple, Google, Intel geeks in line for $415m over wage-fix pacts

As expected, a four-year-long wage-fixing case could be over – after Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe offered to pay out $415m to make the case go away. The foursome are trying to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by former employees over claims senior management quietly entered a pact to not poach each other's staff. This …
Iain Thomson, 16 Jan 2015
Hyperloop plans

I'll build a Hyperloop railgun tube-way in Texas, Elon Musk vows

Some said SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk was mad when he wanted to build Hyperloop – a high-tech transport system described as "a cross between a Concorde and a rail gun." On Thursday, he vowed to construct it anyway. Will be building a Hyperloop test track for companies and student teams to test out their pods. Most likely in …
Iain Thomson, 15 Jan 2015
Zombie rising from the grave

PROOF the undead STALK Verizon users: Admen caught using 'perma-cookie'

Researchers have spotted an advertising agency using Verizon’s indestructible cookies to silently track people across the internet. Back in 2012, Verizon started injecting a "unique identifier token header" (UIDH) into each HTTP request sent through its mobile data network; these identifiers are unique to each subscriber and …
Iain Thomson, 15 Jan 2015
Obama outlines NSA reforms

Mr President, is this a war on hackers – or a war on people stopping hackers?

Analysis This week, President Obama unveiled three new fronts in his war on scary computer hackers – but so far very few people are impressed, and a lot of folks are very worried about the direction he is taking. Obama outlined three areas he is looking to concentrate on in the coming legislative session: better information sharing …
Iain Thomson, 15 Jan 2015
Sign outside the National Security Agency HQ

NSA: SO SORRY we backed that borked crypto even after you spotted the backdoor

The NSA's former director of research Michael Wertheimer says it's "regrettable" that his agency continued to support Dual EC DRBG even after it was widely known to be hopelessly flawed. Writing in Notices, a publication run by the American Mathematical Society, Wertheimer outlined the history of the Dual Elliptic Curve …
Iain Thomson, 14 Jan 2015
Project Ara - swappable hardware mobile

Google unleashes build-it-yourself 'Ara' SLABLET phones (in Puerto Rico)

Google will this year launch its modular DIY smartphone, dubbed Project Ara, but only in the US territory of Puerto Rico. Ara, announced by Google 15 months ago, was developed by Motorola's Advanced Technologies and Products (ATAP) group as a fully modular system where components such as batteries, screens, GPS and cameras, can …
Iain Thomson, 14 Jan 2015
New Horizons spacecraft approaching Pluto

PlayStation-processor-powered plutonium probe prepares Pluto pics

After a trip of nearly three billion miles, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, our first probe to Pluto, will on Wednesday start sending back up-close pictures of the dwarf planet. The craft was sent into our Solar System's obsidian void on January 19, 2006 – back when Pluto was still considered a planet in its own right. Later …
Iain Thomson, 14 Jan 2015
Fujitsu ring

Fujitsu: Slide your fingertip through our ring piece and show mice the finger

Fujitsu Laboratories has unveiled what it thinks is the control system of the future: a smart ring to replace the keyboard and mouse so many of us are slaves to. The 10g (0.35oz) ring contains a near-field communications (NFC) module, low-power Bluetooth, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and other sensors to track the motion of …
Iain Thomson, 13 Jan 2015
The new Facebook AMBER Alert

AMBER alerts of snatched kids to appear on Facebook (and Bing)

Video Facebook and Microsoft’s Bing have worked together with the US Department of Justice to add AMBER alerts for missing children to their websites. Youtube Video These warnings are put out whenever a child is reported to have vanished, and urge people to keep an eye out for the youngster: when the program started, alerts were …
Iain Thomson, 13 Jan 2015
FBI badge and gun

FBI has its fingers deep in NSA surveillance pie, declassified report shows

The FBI had, and most likely still has, a much closer involvement with the NSA’s mass surveillance programs than previously thought – with access to raw foreign intelligence and data on Americans gleaned from the PRISM program. The 231-page report, from the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, was obtained – albeit in a …
Iain Thomson, 13 Jan 2015
SpaceX launch

SpaceX drone hovership ROCKET LANDER BURN: Musk to try again

Pic SpaceX boss Elon Musk says his boffins have worked out what caused his company's Falcon 9 rocket to miss its floating landing pad – and that a solution has already been decided. The top half of the multistage rocket successfully delivered its cargo pod of supplies to the International Space Station on Monday after the bottom …
Iain Thomson, 12 Jan 2015

What do UK and Iran have in common? Both want to outlaw encrypted apps

Encrypted communications will be backdoored or banned in the UK if the Conservatives win the next election, Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged. Youtube Video The UK government has always had the power, “in extremis,” to read Brits' personal post and eavesdrop on electronic chatter, he repeatedly insisted on Monday in a …
Iain Thomson, 12 Jan 2015
Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy's greenish glow visible with naked eye this weekend

Northern stargazers in low-light environments should be able to pick up a greenish-looking space rock in the night's sky – as Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) makes its closest approach to Earth in living memory. Comet Lovejoy expelling carbon So long, won't see you later Lovejoy, named after the Australian amateur astronomer Terry …
Iain Thomson, 10 Jan 2015
3D flexible silicon structures

Boffins erect semi-hard 3D silicon: Pop-up micro-machines breakthrough

Pic Researchers have found a way to make tiny 3D structures out of silicon that "pop up" into shape when glued to an elastic substrate, paving the way to new forms of electronics. The minute shapes mimic complex mechanisms in biology – such as the internal structure of teeth and networks of veins and brain cells – and could be used …
Iain Thomson, 10 Jan 2015
NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers

FBI fingering Norks for Sony hack: The TRUTH – by the NSA's spyboss

The head of the NSA has confirmed his agency gave the FBI top-secret intelligence that led the Feds to blame North Korea for the Sony Pictures mega-hack. The bureau has been strangely silent on how it came to finger the Nork government for the comprehensive ransacking of the Hollywood movie studio. So silent, in fact, seasoned …
Iain Thomson, 09 Jan 2015

What an ACE-HOLE! This super-software will whip you at poker, hands down

Researchers at the University of Alberta, Canada, think they've made the perfect poker-playing program – and are inviting people to try their hand against it. The software, dubbed Cepheus, is a machine-learning system that has been taught to play a variant of Texas Hold 'em called heads-up limit, where players can only bet fixed …
Iain Thomson, 09 Jan 2015

Saudi Arabia to flog man 1,000 times for insulting religion on Facebook

Updated After Friday prayers at the Al-Jafali mosque in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, Raif Badawi will receive the first 50 lashes of his 1,000 stroke sentence for the crime of publishing blasphemy against Islam on Facebook. In May, Badawi, a father of three, was sentenced to five years in prison, and will receive 1,000 lashes to be …
Iain Thomson, 08 Jan 2015

Not app-y with VAT: Apple bumps up prices in Blighty, Europe, Canada

Updated Apple is enjoying a super-soaraway January: its App Store has cleared nearly half a billion dollars in sales in just the first seven days of the month, we are told. New Year’s Day set the record for the largest number of App Store sales in a 24-hour period, and Apple reports sales in 2014 were up 50 per cent on the previous year …
Iain Thomson, 08 Jan 2015
germs

Hey, bacteria: Resistance is FUTILE – boffins grow new super-antibiotic

A new type of antibiotic developed from soil culture could solve one of the most pressing medical problems of the modern age: antibiotic resistance. A paper in the journal Nature details how the new antibiotic, dubbed teixobactin, proved completely effective at healing mice infected with the most common drug-resistant forms of …
Iain Thomson, 08 Jan 2015
Department of Homeland Security

Top senator blasts US Homeland Security for leaving cyber-drawbridge down

A member of the US Senate's Homeland Security Committee has slammed the Department of Homeland Security over America's cyber-defenses: Tom Coburn (R-OK) said the agency is failing to protect the nation's IT infrastructure despite at least $700m in funding. "The nature of cybersecurity threats – and the ability of adversaries to …
Iain Thomson, 08 Jan 2015
Possible fossil strata on Mars

ALIEN fossils ON MARS: Curiosity snaps evidence of life

Pics Photographs of rocks taken by NASA's Curiosity rover may confirm that life as we know it once existed on Mars. The pictures were shot at the Gillespie Lake outcrop in Yellowknife Bay, which used to be a huge lake back when Mars had surface water. Dr Nora Noffke, who has spent 20 years studying fossils of early microbes, said …
Iain Thomson, 07 Jan 2015
Eagle Nebula in 2015

Hubble 'scope snaps ENORMO SPACE ERECTION: Pillars of Creation 20 years on

Pics Nearly 20 years ago, the Hubble space telescope took one of its most iconic pictures – the Pillars of Creation. Now a new image has been taken, showing how the star nursery has changed in the last two decades. Eagle Nebula comparison What a difference a couple of decades makes (click to enlarge) The image, presented at …
Iain Thomson, 07 Jan 2015