Iain Thomson

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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
China censorship

China demands real names online, bans parody accounts and news article comments

From March 1, people in China must reveal their real names before they can join social networks and use other websites – or face cyber-exile. The ban on pseudonyms, plus the removal of reader comments from web articles, is a further crackdown on privacy and freedom of speech in the Middle Kingdom. According to the Cyberspace …
Iain Thomson, 04 Feb 2015

Who's come to fix your broadband? It may be a Fed in disguise. Without a search warrant

A Nevada court has ruled FBI agents can dress up as ISP repairmen to blag their way into a suspect's home without a search warrant – but must tell the courts about it when they do. The ruling stems from a case brought by the Feds against Malaysian poker player Wei Seng Phua and his son, whom the agency accused of running an …
Iain Thomson, 04 Feb 2015

Netflix goes TITSUP WORLDWIDE (Total Inability To Support Usual Programming)

Those waiting for their next installment of Friends, or whatever, may have a bit of a wait – large numbers of people have complained the popular streaming service fell offline globally more than an hour ago. According to some, the site is now struggling back to its feet. Netflix has more than 50 million subscribers on Earth. …
Iain Thomson, 04 Feb 2015
Sad Android

Avast there: MEELLIONS of Androiders scuttled by 'adware' game app

Card-game players are being warned about an Android app in Google's Play Store that reportedly slaps adverts all over your handheld. The accused app recreates Durak, a traditional Russian game, and is rather imaginatively called Durak Card Game. Built by Pocket games Ltd, the application has been downloaded between five and 10 …
Iain Thomson, 03 Feb 2015
Europa Clipper

NASA: Give us JUST 0.5% of the federal budget and we'll take you to MARS and EUROPA

President Obama has proposed raising the NASA budget to $18.5bn in 2016 - and the space agency says it would use the funds to plan missions to the water-moon Europa and to capture asteroids and bring them back to Earth's orbit for study. The budget proposal would raise NASA's funding by $519m. NASA's administrator Charles Bolden …
Iain Thomson, 03 Feb 2015
Money

Obama's budget packs HUGE tax breaks for poor widdle tech giants

President Obama's budget for 2016 includes a whopping tax break that US tech giants have been demanding – because it will let them bring trillions of dollars held in offshore accounts to America without running up huge bills. Under today's tax code, companies that earn money overseas must pay 35 per cent to Uncle Sam if they …
Iain Thomson, 03 Feb 2015
Executioner

Enough is ENOUGH: It's time to flush Flash back to where it came from – Hell

+Comment If you patched Adobe's screen door of the internet – its Flash plugin – last week, and thought you were safe, even for a few weeks, you were sadly mistaken. The Photoshop goliath is warning that yet another programming blunder in its code is being exploited in the wild, and says it won't have a patch ready to deploy until later …
Iain Thomson, 02 Feb 2015
Jupiter Ascending

BY JUPITER: The science behind Friday's Solar System light show

Vid The Slooh Observatory is holding a one-hour event, beginning at 7pm UTC (11am PST) today, to discuss Jupiter in opposition – using telescopes at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. On Friday, February 6, Jupiter will be in opposition to the Earth, making it the brightest natural object …
Iain Thomson, 02 Feb 2015
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

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 vows to kill off hated zombie stalkers

Verizon has backed down over its fingerprinting of subscribers 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