Iain Thomson

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LDSD

NASA shock: Flying saucer predicted over Hawaii on Wednesday

Pic On Wednesday, inhabitants of the Hawaiian island of Kauai will see a flying saucer rise up into the air, fire its rocket motors, and head into space – as NASA tests its Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD). The LDSD is a circular spacecraft resembling the UFOs of old. It is 15ft (4.5m) across and weighs 6,808 pounds (3, …
Iain Thomson, 02 Jun 2015
Cessna

Forget black helicopters, FBI flying surveillance Cessnas over US cities. Warrant? What's that?

The FBI has confirmed it is using shell companies to fly surveillance aircraft with cellphone scanners and video cameras over US cities on a daily basis – and without the need for warrants. The aircraft were spotted over Baltimore last month monitoring the protests and riots in that city. An AP investigation has confirmed that …
Iain Thomson, 02 Jun 2015
Spy cat Zhuzha. Pic: Mark Vegas

US Patriot Act's phone spying rules are dead – but that means very little

Analysis For the last 36 hours the NSA hasn't been able to collect the metadata on every American's mobile phone calls, and yet the Republic still stands, despite warnings of dire consequences. "A small group of senators is standing in the way. And, unfortunately, some folks are trying to use this debate to score political points," said …
Iain Thomson, 02 Jun 2015

Facebook flings PGP-encrypted email at world+dog. Don't lose your private key

Hands-on Facebook can now powerfully encrypt notification emails sent to its users with PGP – keeping potentially sensitive messages out of the hands of hackers and other snoopers. The social network has also added a spot for people to share their public PGP keys via the HTTPS-protected website. "We are gradually rolling out an …
Iain Thomson, 01 Jun 2015
TOR Logo

Unmasking hidden Tor service users is too easy, say infosec bods

Updated Security researchers speaking at the Hack in the Box conference in Amsterdam this week have demonstrated that users of hidden services on Tor are putting themselves at risk of being identified – if an attacker is willing to put in the time and resources. The discovery is significant, because browsing hidden services had been …
Iain Thomson, 30 May 2015
Kim Jong Un

NSA eggheads tried to bork Nork nukes with Stuxnet. It failed – report

The NSA tried to wreck North Korea's nuclear weapons lab using the centrifuge-knackering malware Stuxnet, and ultimately failed, multiple intelligence sources claim. US spies developed Stuxnet with the Israelis to attack and break Iran's nuke-fuel equipment from the mid to late 2000s. The software nasty was tweaked to thwart …
Iain Thomson, 29 May 2015
Cheetah

MIT's robo-cheetah leaps walls in a cyborg hunt for Sarah Connor

Vid Robot builders at MIT have created a cyber-cat that can run and jump over objects without human control. Youtube Video The robot in question, the DARPA-funded Cheetah, is capable of leaping over walls 18 inches tall – more than half its own height – and continuing to run as fast as 22 kilometers per hour (13mph). "A running …
Iain Thomson, 29 May 2015
Google Photo

Google spins up 'FREE, unlimited' cloud photo storage 4 years before ad giant nixes it

Google I/O Google has wheeled out a cloud-hosted photo storage service that, it hopes, will mean that embarrassing images from your past can be organized by computers so you don't have to. Youtube video The photo album software, available on Android and iOS from Thursday, slurps up all the photos on your mobile, and uploads them to a …
Iain Thomson, 29 May 2015

And then the Google lad says: Of course you can use Android Wear without a smartphone

Google I/O Apple may be winning the PR war with its Watch, but Google thinks an open platform, and some nifty Android Wear software, can give it the edge in the smartwatch world. At its annual Google I/O developers shindig in San Francisco, the Chocolate Factory said in the first year of Android Wear the operating system has been updated …
Iain Thomson, 29 May 2015
Microsoft Clippy

Android M's Now on Tap cyber-secretary is like Clippy on Class A drugs

Google I/O Google today showed off the latest build of Android, version M, at its annual developer conference Google I/O in San Francisco. "Version L was a major release so with M we've gone back to basics," Sundar Pichai, Google's senior veep and heir presumptive to the advertising giant's throne. "The focus is on polish and quality and …
Iain Thomson, 28 May 2015
Robot spider

Don't PANIC but ... UNSTOPPABLE robots IMMUNE to injury built by boffins

If you're the future mother of a resistance leader who's destined to save the world from killer mechanoids then life just got a little tougher. Scientists have developed software that allows robots to work around injuries in minutes and carry on their assigned tasks. Youtube Video The research, published in the journal Nature, …
Iain Thomson, 28 May 2015

WTF is going on with the zombie NSA-friendly Patriot Act? Let us help

President Obama has told the US Senate to get its act together over the spy-friendly Patriot Act, key provisions of which are due to expire at midnight on Sunday. The three provisions that will lapse include Section 215, which the NSA uses as legal cover for its blanket slurping of citizens' mobile phone records, and which a US …
Iain Thomson, 27 May 2015

That EVIL TEXT that will CRASH your iPhone: We pop the hood

Analysis Cads and/or bounders can crash and reboot iPhones from afar by sending them specially crafted texts, thanks to a new vulnerability in iOS. A 75-byte sequence of unicode characters triggers the glitch, and can be smuggled into text messages, causing iThings to crash if they appear in the victim's notification screen. Texting the …
Iain Thomson, 27 May 2015

Oculus adds Surreal Vision to its virty portfolio

Oculus Rift, the big dog in virtual reality headsets, has snapped up British startup Surreal Vision for an undisclosed sum. "We’re thrilled to announce that the Surreal Vision team has joined Oculus Research!" the Facebook-owned firm said in a blog post. "Surreal Vision is one of the top computer vision teams in the world …
Iain Thomson, 27 May 2015
Hyundai Android Auto

First production car powered by Android Auto rolls out – and it's a Hyundai

Nearly a year after Google announced it was adapting Android to act as a car operating system, the first vehicle using the software has gone on sale from South Korean carmaker Hyundai. Google demoed its Android Auto operating system at last year's I/O developer conference, and said then it had 40 car companies lined up to use …
Iain Thomson, 26 May 2015
detour

eBay bug turns phishing email links into malware-stuffed booby prizes

eBay is racing to fix a second serious security flaw that may allow criminals to spread malware through files seemingly hosted by the online tat bazaar. The bug is closely related to an earlier one discovered by David Sopas, a researcher at security firm WebSegura in Portugal. The hole uncovered by Sopas, since closed by eBay, …
Iain Thomson, 23 May 2015
spy_eye_648

'The Google execs, the journalists, plus Brit and US spybosses in a cosy mansion confab'

A high-level private meeting between Silicon Valley execs, spies and others was held in the UK this month: on the agenda, the state of government surveillance, and what limits should be put on it. The attendee list is impressive. Key speakers apparently included former acting CIA boss John McLaughlin; former White House deputy …
Iain Thomson, 22 May 2015
Brain

ROBOQUAFF! Boffins build smooth robot arm to lift a pint of beer

Vid Scientists have developed a brain-controlled prosthetic arm that can perform fine motor movements well enough to lift a pint of beer without spilling it. Beer and the robot arm It's my round Mind-controlled prosthetic limbs are nothing new, but they tend to be rather jerky in their movement, which severely limits what people …
Iain Thomson, 22 May 2015
Snowden

Snowden latest: NSA planned sneak attacks on Android app stores

The latest package of documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden details how the intelligence services planned to host man-in-the-middle attacks to install tracking and control software onto Android smartphones. According to a presentation released from the Snowden archive to The Intercept the so-called "5 Eyes" nation's …
Iain Thomson, 22 May 2015
Dragon capsule lands in ocean

SpaceX signs off on another successful mission with Pacific splashdown

SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule has made a splash-landing in the Pacific Ocean as planned after detaching from the International Space Station. The month-long mission ended with a successful, if damp, landing and the 3,100lb of completed scientific experiments, broken hardware, and dirty clothes has been successfully retrieved. …
Iain Thomson, 21 May 2015
Rand Paul

Rand Paul stages Senate filibuster against Patriot Act

Update Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is currently four hours into a filibuster on the Senate floor over plans to renew sections of the Patriot Act that allow mass surveillance of American citizens. Exclusive video that answers the question: why a filibuster? https://t.co/4HxwQn0IEw — Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) May 20, 2015 "There comes a …
Iain Thomson, 21 May 2015
Car crash

Get off the phone!! Seven out of ten US drivers put theirs and your lives at risk

Over two-thirds of drivers are dangerously distracted by their smartphones. That's according to a survey of over 2,000 US road users quizzed about their activities while piloting a ton or so of metal down the freeway at high speed. In all, 61 per cent of drivers admitted to sending or reading text messages while behind the …
Iain Thomson, 20 May 2015
ULA Atlas launch

US Air Force launches not-so-secret space plane. Thanks Russia

The US Air Force's not-so-secret space plane, the X37-B, has been successfully launched into low-Earth orbit along with an array of interesting test products. The rocket lifted off, after a 20 minute delay, at 1105 EDT (1505 UTC) from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Wednesday and delivered the space plane into orbit with its …
Iain Thomson, 20 May 2015
The new Pirate Bay logo

Swedish government wins legal case to seize Pirate Bay domains

The Swedish government has won its case to seize piratebay.se and thepiratebay.se, but the site is already back up under another domain with a new logo to show it isn't beaten. The new round of whack-a-mole flared up on Tuesday when The Stockholm District Court ruled in a case brought by government prosecutors against Swedish …
Iain Thomson, 20 May 2015
The X-37B space plane being hoisted into position

US Air Force reveals what's inside its top-secret space plane, this time

The US Air Force has responded to fears that it is weaponizing space through its secret space shuttle by providing some details of what it will contain at launch on Wednesday. The now not-so-secret X-37B will lift off at 1045 EDT (1445 UTC) from Cape Canaveral in Florida on an Atlas V rocket operated by the United Launch …
Iain Thomson, 19 May 2015
Moments of perspiration

Airplane HACK PANIC! Hold on, it's surely a STORM in a TEACUP

Claims by a security researcher that he hacked an aircraft in flight have been questioned widely across the hacking community and the airline industry. According to a FBI affidavit, security researcher Chris Roberts claimed to have taken control of an airplane using an ordinary laptop connected to the aircraft’s In Flight …
Iain Thomson, 19 May 2015
Revenant in Doom reboot

Doom is BOOM! BOOM! BACK!

It's been nearly 11 years but Doom is back. Bethesda Software has released a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it teaser for the reboot of the famous first-person shooter and confirmed the game will be “unveiled” on June 14 at the E3 2015 games show in Los Angeles. It's been a long time since we've seen a truly new version of the 22-year …
Iain Thomson, 18 May 2015
VR

IN YOUR FACE, Linux and Apple fans! Oculus is Windows-only for now

Facebook's Oculus division has published the tech specs of its Rift virtual reality headset, and it would seem that Apple and Linux fans are out of luck. "Our development for OS X and Linux has been paused in order to focus on delivering a high quality consumer-level VR experience at launch across hardware, software, and content …
Iain Thomson, 16 May 2015
Quasar 3C 273

Astroboffins perplexed by QUADRUPLE QUASAR CLUSTER find

Baffled astronomers at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii are scratching their heads after finding a group of four quasars, a gathering that current cosmological thinking rates as a ten million-to-one chance of occurring. quasars Four into one shouldn't go "If you discover something which, according to current scientific wisdom …
Iain Thomson, 15 May 2015
Combo Breaker

Hacker 3D prints device that can crack a combo lock in 30 seconds

A California hacker who has become an expert in cracking locks has invented a 3D-printed machine that can crack a rotary combination lock in around 30 seconds – and he's released the plans, 3D models, and code as open source. Youtube Video A few weeks ago, Samy Kamkar told the world about a manufacturing flaw in Master Lock …
Iain Thomson, 15 May 2015
airplane

Get paid (airline) peanuts with United's new bug bounty program

United Airlines is starting a bug bounty program aimed at finding flaws and errors in its web portals – but the rewards it's offering aren't payable in money, but in air miles. "At United, we take your safety, security and privacy seriously. We utilize best practices and are confident that our systems are secure," the company …
Iain Thomson, 14 May 2015
New Horizons spacecraft approaching Pluto

NASA snaps first full family photo of Pluto and its five moons

The New Horizons probe, currently speeding towards a July rendezvous with Pluto, has sent back the first images of the dwarf planet and the five moons that orbit it. "New Horizons is now on the threshold of discovery," said mission science team member John Spencer, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "If …
Iain Thomson, 14 May 2015
Fujitsu Arrows NX F-04G

Don't look now: Fujitsu ships new mobe with EYEBALL-scanning security

Fujitsu has released a smartphone that it claims is the first in the world to use iris scanning to replace passwords or fingerprint readers. Youtube Video The Fujitsu Arrows NX F-04G, first displayed at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, comes with the usual accoutrements you'd expect in a smartphone. It has a 5.2-inch …
Iain Thomson, 13 May 2015
windows 10 microsoft one windows

World of the strange: There will be NINE KINDS of Windows 10

When Windows 10 ships this summer, buyers will have a host of different versions of the operating system – actually as many as nine, when you take everything into account. The basic consumer version is Windows 10 Home. For that you get the OS with support for Windows Universal apps, the Edge browser (and Internet Explorer), and …
Iain Thomson, 13 May 2015
Italy's first woman in space enjoys espresso on the ISS

Russia delays ISS crew mission over Progress launch safety fears

The current crew on the International Space Station is going to be spending at least another month in space after the Russian space agency Roscosmos decided to keep them up there a while longer, and at least one resident astronaut is over the moon at the prospect. Italy's first woman in space, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, …
Iain Thomson, 12 May 2015
Babel Fish

Time to get your babble on: Microsoft opens Skype Translator Preview to all comers

Microsoft's Skype Translator, which automatically converts some voice calls and IMs between languages, has been available to beta testers for some time, but Redmond has now opened it up as a Preview to the general public – provided they have the right operating system. The Translator Preview software has been in circulation …
Iain Thomson, 12 May 2015
Elon Musk

Elon Musk: I'm neither a samurai nor a bastard

Elon Musk has come out fighting online to defend his reputation after quotes in a new book about the space and electric car enthusiast made him look like a bit of a git. The claims come in a new book, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, written by El Reg alumnus Ashlee Vance. The book claims that Musk …
Iain Thomson, 12 May 2015
Ceres

DEEPENING MYSTERY of BRIGHT LIGHTS on dwarf world Ceres

NASA's Dawn space probe has completed its first mapping orbit of the dwarf planet Ceres and the bright spots spotted on the surface are much more numerous than first thought. In March, as Dawn approached the planet, scientists spotted a bright spot on the surface of Ceres and more appeared as the spacecraft approached. A new …
Iain Thomson, 12 May 2015
Google car

SHOCK! Robot cars do CRASH. Because other cars have human drivers

Self-driving cars have put in hundreds of thousands of miles on California's roads and, according to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, they have had four bumps and scrapes along the way. In September 2014, California's DMV issued new guidelines that allow autonomous vehicles on state roads, as long as there's a human …
Iain Thomson, 11 May 2015

Pakistan URINE STORM: Google Maps chokes off user editing

From Tuesday, Google is cutting user edits from its Maps after admitting that it simply can't prevent online tricksters from abusing the system. A much less creative attempt, although more to the point Last month, the firm was forced to make some quick edits after a user noticed that someone had created a mythical park in …
Iain Thomson, 11 May 2015
CHIP

Hordes spaff cash on Chip titchyputer to rival Pi (maybe)

The success of the Raspberry Pi has spawned a cottage industry of imitators, but the budget hobbyist computer's $35 price tag is looking downright expensive compared to the latest arrival – the $9 Chip bare-bones computer. Chip promo vid The Chip comes with an Allwinner A13 ARM-based 1GHz processor, 512MB of DDR3 RAM and 4GB of …
Iain Thomson, 09 May 2015
hacker

Rogue cybersecurity firm killed cancer testing lab, claims ex-employee

A former employee of well-connected security firm Tiversa has claimed in court that the company falsified information about the severity of a data breach at a cancer laboratory that was later forced to close after a government data security investigation. Georgia cancer testing laboratory LabMD – or rather, what's left of it now …
Iain Thomson, 08 May 2015
Mitch McConnell

NSA spying is illegal? Then let's make it law, say Republicans

Now that a US federal court has ruled that the NSA's mass wiretapping program exceeded its legal authority, leaders of the US Republican party are pushing to make it legal. Within hours of the ruling by the US Second Circuit Court of Appeal that the NSA's bulk domestic surveillance program under Section 215 of the Patriot Act …
Iain Thomson, 08 May 2015
Russian 'Progress' cargo vessel as seen from the International Space Station

Take cover! Out-of-control Russian spaceship to smash into Earth within hours

The Russian space agency Roscosmos has confirmed that its out-of-control Progress cargo capsule will begin its fatal plunge toward Earth on Thursday. Control of the 7,298kg (16,089lb) spacecraft was lost shortly after launch last week and the cargo pod, which is carrying three tons of supplies for the International Space Station …
Iain Thomson, 07 May 2015

Keurig to drop coffee DRM after boss admits 'we were wrong'

Coffee machine maker Keurig's attempt to lock customers into its proprietary K-Cup coffee pods was a failure, the firm's CEO has admitted, and the company is dropping the practice. "Quite honestly, we were wrong," boss Brian Kelley told analysts after Keurig's latest quarterly results were released, the Washington Post reports …
Iain Thomson, 07 May 2015

Online pizza order saves woman and children from knife-wielding kidnapper

A quick-thinking kidnappee managed to summon the cops using the comments section of an online order for pizza while being held hostage with her three children. On Monday Cheryl Treadway, 25, from Avon Park in Florida, spent the day arguing with her boyfriend Ethan Nickerson. He became violent, armed himself with a large knife …
Iain Thomson, 07 May 2015
Cheat by https://www.flickr.com/photos/sohelparvezhaque/ CC 2.0 attribution https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Tencent stripped of antivirus rankings for cheating on tests

Antivirus ratings firms AV‐Comparatives, AV-Test, and Virus Bulletin have stripped another company of its rankings for trying to game their tests. This time the culprit was Chinese giant Tencent, which is accused of compromising its own security systems for the sake of speed credits in testing. "After in-depth investigations, …
Iain Thomson, 06 May 2015

SpaceX Dragon crew capsule in 'CHUTE ABORT drama – don't panic, no one died

Pics and vid At 0900 EDT (1300 UTC) today, SpaceX launched a Dragon 2 capsule, capable of carrying a human crew, high into the sky, and gently landed it on the Atlantic ocean. It was a NASA-required experiment to test whether or not the craft can safely return to Earth without killing anyone onboard if a launch is aborted shortly after …
Iain Thomson, 06 May 2015
America

Snowden scandal latest: NSA, GCHQ lingo-spies replaced by unstoppable RHINEHART robots

The NSA has been using software to convert intercepted phone calls into transcripts stored in searchable databases, it is claimed. It is also entirely believable: Dragon Dictate isn't exactly top secret, is it? Documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published by The Intercept on Tuesday show that Uncle Sam's spies, and their …
Iain Thomson, 06 May 2015
Dead PC

PEAK PC: 'Most' Google web searches 'come from mobiles' in US

The majority of Google web searches in America, and a few other nations, now come from phones and tablets – outpacing PCs for the first time, we're told. According to NetMarketShare, Google owned a 92.22 per cent chunk of the global search engine market for mobiles and slabs, and 65.73 per cent of the desktop search market, in …
Iain Thomson, 05 May 2015