Iain Thomson

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Leonard Nemoy

RIP Leonard Nimoy: He lived long and prospered

Obit Leonard Nimoy, the actor who became the most recognized face of the Star Trek franchise, has died at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 83. A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP — Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015 Nimoy was born on March 26, 1931 in …
Iain Thomson, 27 Feb 2015
Infosec

Lenovo: We SWEAR we're done with bloatware, adware and scumware

Barely a week after the breaking of the Superfish scandal, Lenovo has done a complete reverse ferret on bloatware - promising that by the time Windows 10 comes out its systems will be as pure as they can be. “The events of last week reinforce the principle that customer experience, security and privacy must be our top priorities …
Iain Thomson, 27 Feb 2015

EFF fears crims are getting smart to Superfish SSL flaws

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says it has found evidence that the security problems with Superfish could be much worse than first thought. Superfish caused such a stink when it was discovered last week because the Komodia software it used borks SSL connections. But EFF researchers have found that the Komodia library …
Iain Thomson, 27 Feb 2015
Free Robot Hugs by Ben Husmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/benhusmann/sets/72157594246596196

Facebook sad-nav: How to put depressed chums on internet suicide watch

The signs of future suicide often pop up on social media, so Facebook has partnered with the University of Washington (UW) to roll out new tools that can hopefully provide a lifeline to those in need. "Often, friends and family who are the observers in this situation don't know what to do," said Holly Hetherington, a Facebook …
Iain Thomson, 26 Feb 2015
Bahrain

FinFisher, the spyware loved by cruel dictators, stomps all over human rights, says UK govt

FinFisher, the spyware sold to police and tyrants around the globe, has gained the dubious honor of becoming the first piece of software judged by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development to have trampled human rights. The OECD is an influential consortium of world powers. FinFisher, also known as FinSpy, …
Iain Thomson, 26 Feb 2015
Ceres

Spotty Ceres baffles boffins with bright patches

The Dawn spacecraft sent by NASA to investigate the asteroid belt's largest bodies has spotted a second bright spot on the surface of Ceres, sparking speculation that the dwarf planet might be significantly stranger than first thought. Dawn is slowly approaching Ceres using its ion drive to match orbits, and its latest pictures …
Iain Thomson, 26 Feb 2015
Panic button

SIM hack scandal biz Gemalto: Everything's fine ... Security industry: No, it's really not

Six days ago Gemalto, the world's largest SIM card manufacturer, was told that back in 2010 it had been ransacked by NSA and GCHQ hackers. Today the company gave itself the all-clear: no encryption keys, used to secure phone calls from eavesdroppers, were stolen, it claims. Yet the IT security industry is not so sure. Documents …
Iain Thomson, 25 Feb 2015
bionic hand

Boffin: Use my bionic breakthrough for good, and not super cyborgs

Austrian scientists have used a technique dubbed "bionic reconstruction" to connect a robot hand to human nerves, enabling directly brain-controlled prosthetics for the first time. "Bionic reconstruction is a holistic concept that covers more than just surgical technique," said Prof Oskar Aszmann, MD, Head of the Christian …
Iain Thomson, 25 Feb 2015
Malware image

Lenovo CTO: Hey, look around – we're not the only ones with a crapware infection

On Friday Lenovo is going to tell the world about how it plans to regain the trust of its users in the wake of the Superfish clusterfuck – and may even launch an independent security audit of its products. "Our goal, in the end, is to make this right," Lenovo's CTO Peter Hortensius told The Register on Tuesday. "It's going to …
Iain Thomson, 25 Feb 2015

Red or alive, you're coming with me: Feds offer $3m reward for 'CryptoLocker baron'

The US State Department and the FBI, have stumped up $3m in reward money for the arrest of Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev, the 30-year-old Russian man accused of stealing over $100m with his malware. Russian wanted by FBI Have you seen this man? Bogachev, who operated under the aliases "lucky12345," "Slavik," and "Pollingsoon …
Iain Thomson, 25 Feb 2015
Admiral Mike Rogers of the NSA

Why does the NSA's boss care so much about backdoors when he can just steal all our encryption keys?

NSA director Admiral Mike Rogers has said it is vital Uncle Sam's crimefighters snoop on people – and that this should be possible even if citizens use strong encryption. The spymaster reckons Americans should secure their communications against all eavesdroppers – except, of course, those working for the police, FBI and the NSA …
Iain Thomson, 25 Feb 2015
Snowden

I wish I'd leaked sooner says Edward Snowden in post-Oscar chinwag

In his first public comment since the documentary CitizenFour's Academy Award win on Sunday, Edward Snowden took questions from the public and revealed what he says is his biggest regret about becoming a whistleblower. "I would have come forward sooner," he said. "Had I come forward a little sooner, these programs would have …
Iain Thomson, 24 Feb 2015

'Lenovo, Superfish put smut on my system' – class-action lawsuit

A California woman has filed the first lawsuit against Lenovo and Superfish over the pair's adware debacle, claiming the "malware" injected smutty pictures into her web browser on her Yoga laptop. A class-action filing [PDF] in the state's southern district court recounts how Jessica Bennett bought a Lenovo Yoga 2 laptop in late …
Iain Thomson, 23 Feb 2015
stingray

ACLU: Here's a secret – cops are using the FBI's fake cell-tower tech to track crims' phones

Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union have shown that US cops are using the FBI's Stingray mobile phone tracking tech much more often than first thought. And the Feds are going to great lengths to hide the full extent of its use. "The documents paint a detailed picture of police using an invasive technology …
Iain Thomson, 23 Feb 2015

New Mexico mulls sale of first US commercial spaceport (and LOHAN launchpad)

A New Mexico State Senator has proposed to sell off Spaceport America, saying the site has no viable business model – while claiming that Virgin Galactic may be in breach of contract after a disastrous spaceplane flight ended in death. The spaceport opened for business in 2006 but has seen hard times, hosting just 21 vertical …
Iain Thomson, 21 Feb 2015
jaws

Man the HARPOONS: YOU can EASILY SLAY ad-scumware Superfish

+Updates The US government's Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has said the Superfish ad-injecting malware installed by Lenovo on its new laptops is a "critical" threat to security. Chinese PC peddler Lenovo bundled the software nasty to make a fast buck from its cheap, low-margin hardware: the application hijacks web browsers …
Iain Thomson, 20 Feb 2015
Laurel and Hardy on the phone

Hellooo, NSA? The US State Department can't kick hackers out of its networks – report

An attack against US State Department servers is still ongoing three months after the agency spotted miscreants inside its email system, it's reported. In November the State Department was forced to suspend its unclassified email systems after it was successfully infiltrated by hackers unknown. At the time the agency said its …
Iain Thomson, 20 Feb 2015

So long, Lenovo, and no thanks for all the super-creepy Superfish

+Comment Chinese PC maker Lenovo has published instructions on how to scrape off the Superfish adware it installed on its laptops – but still bizarrely insists it has done nothing wrong. That's despite rating the severity of the deliberate infection as "high" on its own website. Well played, Lenonope. Superfish was bundled on new Lenovo …
GCHQ slide

Did NSA, GCHQ steal the secret key in YOUR phone SIM? It's LIKELY

The NSA and Britain's GCHQ hacked the world's biggest SIM card maker to harvest the encryption keys needed to silently and effortlessly eavesdrop on potentially millions of people. That's according to documents obtained by surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden and leaked to the web on Thursday. "Wow. This is huge – it's one …
Iain Thomson, 19 Feb 2015
Sleeping

Android malware hijacks power button, empties wallet while you sleep

Security biz AVG has spotted an outbreak of a new kind of Android malware that will come alive even when the phone is supposedly switched off. The software nasty is able to do this by hijacking the mobe's power-off sequence. Android malware No shutdown for you! Part of the Android shutdown sequence "After pressing the power …
Iain Thomson, 19 Feb 2015
Hello Barbie

Hello Barbie: Hang on, this Wi-Fi doll records your child's voice?

Vid Toymaker Mattel has unveiled a high-tech Barbie that will listen to your child, record its words, send them over the internet for processing, and talk back to your kid. It will email you, as a parent, highlights of your youngster's conversations with the toy. If Samsung's spying smart TVs creeped you out, this doll may be …
Iain Thomson, 19 Feb 2015

After Brit spies 'snoop' on families' lawyers, UK govt admits: We flouted human rights laws

The British government has admitted that its practice of spying on confidential communications between lawyers and their clients was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Details of the controversial snooping emerged in November: lawyers suing Blighty over its rendition of two Libyan families to be tortured …
Iain Thomson, 19 Feb 2015
Ryan Seacrest

TV Idol star's keyboard upstart idolizes our gear too much – BlackBerry

Blackberry has fired off a second lawsuit against Typo Innovations, claiming the celebrity-backed startup "slavishly copied" the design of its smartphones for the Typo2 – a physical keyboard strapped to iPhones. Typo's keyboard with Blackberry's Spot the difference In April, Blackberry won a court order against Typo, …
Iain Thomson, 18 Feb 2015
Planetoid crashes into primordial Earth

Watch a hot, speeding space alien explode all over Earth's Beaver

Video Three NASA cameras have picked up the fiery entrance and explosive exit of a 500lb (226kg) chunk of space rock in the skies over Pennsylvania in the wee small hours of Tuesday. Youtube Video The meteor was spotted at 0450 local time (0950 UTC) sixty miles above Beaver Falls. It was filmed by three video cameras that are part of …
Iain Thomson, 18 Feb 2015
Total Recall

Big Brother in SPAACE: Mars One picks first 100 morons to suffocate, er, settle on Red Planet

Pics The final 100 wannabe Mars One colonists have been announced. The organizer of the project has received 202,586 applications from Earthlings longing for a one-way trip to the fourth rock from the Sun – and claims it will fire the first four settlers to Mars in 2024. It will fund the whole thing through sponsorship and a reality …
Iain Thomson, 17 Feb 2015
Fiber optics

AT&T suddenly finds demand for 1Gbps fiber in Kansas City – just after Google arrived

While the majority of Americans only have one choice of 25Mbps+ broadband provider, citizens of Kansas City – the Midwest's most connected hotspot – now have a fourth option: AT&T. "We've moved quickly to bring more competition to the Kansas City area for blazing-fast Internet speeds and best-in-class television service," said …
Iain Thomson, 17 Feb 2015
Contact lens telescope

Wink if you want to see more of me, say Swiss boffins

Two years ago scientists from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) demoed a contact lens with a telescope built in, and they've now refined the prototype to allow the user to control its functions with the wink of an eye. "We think these lenses hold a lot of promise for low vision and age-related macular …
Iain Thomson, 14 Feb 2015
Obama

An NSA spy, a Fed and a sysadmin walk into a bar – that's Prez Obama's new cyber-security order

President Barack Obama has signed an executive order that will attempt to protect America's crucial computer networks by sharing knowhow between g-men and techies. The new order instructs federal agencies to set up a clearing house of real-time, up-to-the-minute information on what's menacing US infrastructure. Companies running …
Iain Thomson, 13 Feb 2015
Thermal imaging in a microwave

Ex-NASA boffin dreams of PREDATOR-ish tech in humble microwaves

A former engineer on the Curiosity Mars rover team has come up with a bright idea to improve the aging microwave cooker: thermal imaging, inspired by the Predator franchise, to check when food is done. Youtube Video “The microwave has pretty much remained unchanged since it’s inception in 1967,” said Mark Rober in a vid …
Iain Thomson, 13 Feb 2015
Bang by Guian Bolisay

Proposed US law could deal knockout blow to FBI in overseas cloud privacy ding-dongs

The US Congress, now fully under Republican control, is getting busy with laws to protect data: two bipartisan bills appeared on Thursday that would bring the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) bang up to date in the 21st century. The first piece of proposed legislation [PDF] is the Electronic Communications …
Iain Thomson, 13 Feb 2015
Fitbit scabs

How's your F-ITCH-bit? Surge gizmo sparks rash of complaints, watchdog's attention

Fitbit Surge wearers are complaining about sore and scabby skin after strapping on the exercise-snooping wrist-gizmo. A US watchdog has told us it is probing the gripes. Having a break from my @fitbit Surge. Might need to stop wearing it - nice rash (and my skin isn't usually sensitive) pic.twitter.com/CNQwfEJO1X — Shaun Ewing …
Iain Thomson, 12 Feb 2015
LSD

HIGH-RANNOSAURUS WRECKED: Druggie dinos tripped balls on psychedelics – boffins

Fossil hunters in Burma have discovered the earliest specimen of grass yet found – and say it’s laced with a hallucinogen. Ancient amber encasing early grass Ancient amber encasing early grass – no, not that kind The plant remains date from between 97 and 110 million years ago, and are encased in a chunk of amber. Around the …
Iain Thomson, 12 Feb 2015

Lashed Saudi blogger Raif: Prince Charles has word with new king

The UK's Prince Charles has raised the issue of the fate of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi with Saudi Arabia's newly appointed King Salman during a six-day state visit to the region. Badawi was found guilty in 2013 of insulting Islam in Facebook posts and of running an online activist message board called Liberal Saudi Network that …
Iain Thomson, 12 Feb 2015
Unlocked padlock

Let freedom RING! Americans can now legally liberate phones from axis of network evil

It's phone Independence Day as American mobe owners can now legally unlock their smartphones again from their network carriers – provided you've finished paying for them. Phone unlocking, allowing it to subscribe to a different network, was perfectly legal in the US until 2012, when the practice was banned in a review of the …
Iain Thomson, 11 Feb 2015
SpaceX launch

SpaceX HOVER-SHIP landing scuppered by MASSIVE ocean waves

Pic+vid+updates Upstart startup rocketbiz SpaceX has launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying aloft NASA's sun-sniffing DSCOVR satellite – which is destined to take up position beyond Earth's orbit and warn humanity of dangerous solar storms. Sadly, extreme sea weather has prevented SpaceX from attempting to land the lower stage of the reusable …
Iain Thomson, 11 Feb 2015
Concept pic of the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle during re-entry. Credit: ESA

Europe just flew titchy reusable SPACEPLANE IXV around the planet

Video Europe's first reusable spaceplane has had a successful flight, traveling 413km (256 miles) above the Earth before splashing down on the other side of the planet. The delayed Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) spaceplane lifted off from ESA's spaceport in French Guiana at 1340 GMT on Tuesday heading east atop a three- …
Iain Thomson, 11 Feb 2015
Falcon9

HISTORIC HOVER-ROCKET takeoff held up by 'SLEDGEHAMMER' winds

Updated It's third time unlucky for SpaceX – today's launch of its reusable Falcon 9 rocket was scrubbed at the last minute due to bad weather. Winds in the upper atmosphere were ruled too strong, with gusts exceeding safety limits by 151 per cent. Elon Musk expressed concern about the conditions early on Tuesday but wind speeds failed …
Iain Thomson, 10 Feb 2015
Tim Cook

Sitting on one's ARSE is the new CANCER, says Tim Cook - and an Apple watch will save you

Apple CEO Tim Cook has shared a range of different thoughts and announcements in his keynote address to a Goldman Sachs conference today. During this event he was interviewed by the firm's president, Gary Cohn, who almost drooled as he listed Apple's last financial results. He notified Cook that during his speech, Apple had …
Iain Thomson, 10 Feb 2015
Reliance free internet from Internet.org

In India, Facebook and chums boil the internet down to 38 websites

Some people in India can now visit a gang of Western websites without being charged for the mobile data traffic – a handy way to boost user numbers globally for the moneybags corporations involved. Internet.org, a partnership between Facebook and proper tech companies, is behind the special offer to get more people hooked on …
Iain Thomson, 10 Feb 2015
Smilin' Marv

Patch now: Design flaw in Windows security allows hackers to own corporate laptops, PCs

Another month, another Patch Tuesday, but this release has a special sting in the tail: a flaw in the fundamental design of Windows that's taken a year to correct, and is unfixable on Server 2003. The critical blunder allows miscreants to completely take over a domain-configured Windows system if it is connected to a malicious …
Iain Thomson, 10 Feb 2015

World's mega-rich tax dodge exposed: Meet the HSBC IT bloke at the heart of damning leak

In 2008, HSBC IT exec Hervé Falciani blew the whistle on the huge tax-avoidance maneuvers used by some of the planet's wealthiest people. This week, sensitive documents obtained by the 43-year-old have been published online for the world to see. Falciani has fled across Europe, swerved extradition requests, and, fearing for his …
Iain Thomson, 10 Feb 2015
car hacking

Hacker hijack 'threat': Your car's security is Adobe Flash-grade BAD

Democratic Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) has published a report after questioning 20 automakers about the security of their cars' internal networks – and how much personal data they store. The results aren't great. In short, as we've long suspected, the computers in today's cars can be hijacked wirelessly by feeding specially crafted …
Iain Thomson, 09 Feb 2015
When white dwarf stars collide

Boffin the boffin and his boffinry pals in double dwarf super-prang alert

Pics A boffin called Boffin and other scientists at the European Southern Observatory say they have spotted an astronomical first: two doomed white dwarf stars that will likely spark a supernova when they collide. The puny pair, in the planetary nebula* Henize 2-428, will crash into each other in about 700 million years, we're told. …
Iain Thomson, 09 Feb 2015
Disney's Beagle Boys

Phishers, scammers pile into worried Anthem customers in FRAUD FRENZY

Hacked healthcare corporation Anthem has had to issue a special warning to current and past customers as hackers have already started to work though records purloined earlier this year. "Individuals who may have been impacted by the cyber attack against Anthem, should be aware of scam email campaigns targeting current and former …
Iain Thomson, 07 Feb 2015
Cookie Monster

Four senators call for federal probes into Verizon 'supercookies'

Verizon's sweet tooth for cookies has dunked it in more hot water after four Democratic senators urged the US Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to examine the firm's practice of tracking customers' web habits. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Edward Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal, (D-CT), and …
Iain Thomson, 06 Feb 2015

Internet lobs $$$s at dev of crucial GPG tool after he runs short of cash

Werner Koch is looking at a big payday after pulling in over $150,000 to fund the continuing development of his crucial open-source GNU Privacy Guard encryption tools. Koch, 53, is a leading light in the free software movement: in 1999, he released GPG, which uses the OpenPGP standard to safeguard the communications of millions …
Iain Thomson, 05 Feb 2015
Amy Pascal

Exit Interview: Sony Pics co-chair Amy Pascal flees 'Nork' hack studio

The co-chairman of hacker-ravaged Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) Amy Pascal has stepped down – and will form her own production company in association with the Hollywood studio. "I have spent almost my entire professional life at Sony Pictures and I am energized to be starting this new chapter based at the company I call home …
Iain Thomson, 05 Feb 2015
Robot hotel

Forget robo-butlers – ROBO-MAIDS! New hotel staffed by slave-droids

A Japanese theme park will open a new hotel in July that is cleaned and operated almost entirely by robots. Guests will be met by robotic desk staff (so, no good trying to bribe one for a room upgrade) and have their bags carried by mechanoid porters. Even the room cleaning will be carried out by mechanical employees, and …
Iain Thomson, 05 Feb 2015
Fiber optics

UK boffins DOUBLE distance of fiber data: London to New York WITHOUT a repeater

Researchers at University College London say they have found a way to dramatically increase the distance data can be sent intact over ordinary fiber optic cables – by partially working around the Kerr Effect. A phenomenon discovered by Scottish physicist John Kerr in 1875 limits the distance coherent data can travel. The effect …
Iain Thomson, 05 Feb 2015
NSA parody T-shirt

NSA lays out its reforms post-Snowden (they can fit on back of a stamp)

The NSA has published its first "report" on signals intelligence "reform" in the US. If you were hoping for sweeping changes in the wake of Ed Snowden's whistleblowing, you're in for disappointment. The factsheet, covering the year to date, was written up after some prodding and tutting by President Obama in January 2014. It …
Iain Thomson, 05 Feb 2015