Iain Thomson

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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

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

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

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
Some like it hot

OFFICIAL SCIENCE: Men are freezing women out of the workplace

As the Northern hemisphere languishes in summer temperatures, a new study has shown that office climate control systems are giving women the cold shoulder. Many office air-conditioning systems are locked down to avoid arguments about how hot or cold to have the building. In the 1960s and 1970s, studies were made to decide on …
Iain Thomson, 04 Aug 2015

New US cyber laws will hit privacy and security, says Homeland Security

The US Department of Homeland Security is hardly what you'd think of as a bunch of whining lefties, but even this agency has come out against the proposed Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. In a letter [PDF] to Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Alejandro Mayorkas, the deputy secretary of the DHS, said that the proposed American …
Iain Thomson, 04 Aug 2015

Dynamics CRM biz gobble lets bosses play fantasy league ... at work ... using sales reps

Microsoft has gobbled up FantasySalesTeam-maker Incent Games, and will bake the software into its Dynamics CRM product. Incent calls FantasySalesTeam "sales gamification" (no, me neither). Rather than dangle a big carrot in front of sales reps – like a fat end-of-year bonus – it lets managers offer lots of smaller prizes to …
Iain Thomson, 03 Aug 2015

This hospital drug pump can be hacked over a network – and the US FDA is freaking out

The US Food and Drug Administration has told healthcare providers to stop using older drug infusion pumps made by medical technology outfit Hospira – because they can be easily hacked over a network. "Hospira and an independent researcher confirmed that Hospira’s Symbiq Infusion System could be accessed remotely through a …
Iain Thomson, 01 Aug 2015
Liam Neeson, Taken

Wait, STOP: Are you installing Windows 10 or RANSOMWARE?

People aren't good at waiting for stuff, and with computer users queueing up to download Windows 10, ransomware purveyors have started to move in. CTB-Locker This is going to be expensive ... Cisco's security team has noticed a new spamming campaign attempting to spread the CTB-Locker ransomware using emails purporting to …
Iain Thomson, 31 Jul 2015
Nvidia Shield Tablet

Sick burn, LOSER! Nvidia recalls Shield gaming slabs over BLAZE RISK

Nvidia has today urged gamers to stop using its eight-inch Shield tablets, and send them back to base, because they are a fire risk. Nearly 90,000 units in America and Canada have been recalled over fears they will burn players. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a recall notice that there have been four …
Iain Thomson, 31 Jul 2015

Unlock and start General Motors cars with a $100 box of tricks – hacker

Anyone with $100 spare for electronic components, and some technical skills, can wirelessly track, unlock, and start General Motors cars that have OnStar fitted, it is claimed. OnStar is a cellular service that piggybacks AT&T's cellphone network to connect vehicles to the internet: equipment in the car connects to the 'net …
Iain Thomson, 31 Jul 2015

Giant Facebook SOLAR LASER DRONE to FEED interwebs into YOUR FACE

Pics Facebook's bonkers dream of beaming internet access to remote corners of the globe has taken yet another step – or perhaps that should be flight – closer to reality with its new flying laser drone. Engineers working for the free content ad network unveiled a massive Aquila autonomous drone, which is fitted with a laser …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jul 2015
Brown dwarf

Alien dwarf 'star' flashes her dazzling brown rear at stunned space boffins

Video Astronomers have spotted a brown dwarf almost-star glowing with a dazzling display of aurora similar to the Northern Lights and Southern Lights here on Earth – but hundreds of thousands of times brighter. A team led by Caltech has been focusing telescopes on LSRJ 1835+3259, a brown dwarf sorta-planet 20 light years from Earth …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jul 2015

Don't want pranksters 'bricking' your Android? Just stop using the internet, duh – Google

Video Trend Micro peeps say they have discovered a security bug that miscreants can exploit to seemingly murder millions of Android smartphones. A device will appear lifeless and unable to make calls, with a dead screen and no sound output, if an attack is successful, we're told. All a victim has to do is visit a dodgy webpage, or …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jul 2015

Bloke cuffed for blowing low-flying camera drone to bits with shotgun

A father of two girls didn't take too kindly to a camera-equipped quadrocopter hovering over his house and snooping on his kids – so he blasted it out of the sky. Now he's facing charges of first-degree criminal mischief and wanton endangerment. William Merideth, 47, was relaxing at his home in Hillview, Kentucky, US, on …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jul 2015

Exploding 'laptop batt' IN SPAAACE! Speeding lithium spaffed by nova

Pic For the first time, astronomers have detected lithium spread across space at high speed by an exploding star. The eggheads hope this discovery will solve one of the chemical riddles of the universe. Using telescopes in Chile, an Italian team focused on Nova Centauri 2013, a nova whose light reached Earth two years ago. It is …
Iain Thomson, 29 Jul 2015
Death Star

World-beating TWO-QUADRILLION-WATT LASER fired by boffins

Nuclear fusion researchers at Osaka University in Japan claim they have made history by firing the world's most powerful laser – emitting a two-quadrillion-watt beam albeit for a very, very brief period of time. The two-petawatt beam was formed using the huge LFEX (Laser for Fast ignition EXperiments) system developed by the …
Iain Thomson, 29 Jul 2015

21st century malware found in Jane Austen's 19th century prose

Cisco's 2015 Midyear Security Report has revealed that at least one group of malware-spreading scum has a literary bent. The report found one group of criminals who were hosting a webpage designed to inject exploit code into unpatched browsers. Typically these landing pages have very little on them, often just random text, but …
Iain Thomson, 28 Jul 2015
Ceres' bright spots  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Three-mile-high pyramid found on alien dwarf world, baffles boffins

Pics and video When it comes to probing dwarfs, NASA's New Horizons Pluto probe has been hogging the limelight. But the Dawn spacecraft orbiting tiny Ceres, which is hidden in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is back in operation – and has sent back the first full maps of the sort-of planet. Crucially, the latest pictures fail to …
Iain Thomson, 28 Jul 2015