Iain Thomson

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Chinese crypto techie sentenced to death for leaking state secrets

A computer technician at a Chinese state encryption lab has been sentenced to death for selling government secrets to foreign intelligence agencies. For nine years Huang Yu, 48, sold 150,000 state documents for "a foreign spy organization" and earned over $700,000, Shanghai Daily reports. These included ciphers for the …
Iain Thomson, 19 Apr 2016

SamSam ransomware shifts from hospitals to schools via JBoss hole

Cisco has warned that the SamSam ransomware that has been plaguing US hospitals is now menacing schools, governments, and other organizations that have not kept their JBoss deployments up to date. According to the networking giant's Talos security team, SamSam exploits a hole in server middleware JBoss to drill its way into …
Iain Thomson, 19 Apr 2016

US congresscritter's iPhone hacked (with, er, the cell networks' help)

America's flagship news program 60 Minutes has demonstrated how to "hack" a US congressman's smartphone. One little thing to bear in mind about this incredible scoop: the vulnerability has been in circulation since 2014 ... and it requires high-level access to global phone networks. House representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) loaned …
Iain Thomson, 18 Apr 2016

MIT boffins build AI bot that spots '85 per cent' of hacker invasions

Eggheads at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) claim they have trained a machine-learning system to detect 85 per cent of network attacks. To reach that level, the software, dubbed AI2 [PDF], parsed billions of lines of log files, looking for behaviors that indicate either a malware infection …
Iain Thomson, 18 Apr 2016
Justin Trudeau

Canny Canadian PM schools snarky hack on quantum computing

Video The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has humiliated a Canadian journalist who assumed he was clueless about quantum computing. Trudeau was attending a press conference at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario to announce $50m in science funding. A reporter jokingly asked him to explain …
Iain Thomson, 15 Apr 2016
ruby slippers

Flaw-finding Ruby on Rails bot steams past humans

Boffins at MIT have designed a Ruby on Rails interpreter that can find code flaws much faster than fleshy programmers. Dubbed Space, the software has been tested against 50 popular web applications written in Rails, and found 23 previously undiagnosed security flaws. None of the programs required more than 64 seconds for a …
Iain Thomson, 15 Apr 2016

Daft Punk: Snowden goes electronica

It is a seemingly unlikely career change, bored Moscovite Edward Snowden has agreed to provide vocals for a track on Jean Michel Jarre's forthcoming album. "I've always appreciated electronic music. The melodies that I remember with most fondness are actually from video games where they generate 8-bit music, and those kinds of …
Iain Thomson, 15 Apr 2016
Zuckerberg photo Facebook

Facebook's big trouble in its little world domination plan: China

Analysis One of the central themes of Facebook's F8 developer conference in San Francisco this week has been Mark Zuckerberg's plans to wire up the world with Facebook internet access. Attendees were repeatedly reminded that even in this day and age, there are people not using Facebook – at least four billion people, allegedly. A fair …
Iain Thomson, 15 Apr 2016
Large leaver switch on a board of push button switches

Brit AI genius dies

Sir David MacKay, a pioneer in machine-learning techniques, has died at the age of 48 after battling stomach cancer. MacKay, who was the Regius Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge and a former chief scientific advisor to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, won acclaim in the artificial …
Iain Thomson, 14 Apr 2016

US anti-encryption law is so 'braindead' it will outlaw file compression

The proposed bill put forward by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to force US companies to build backdoors into their encryption systems has quickly run into trouble. Less than 24 hours after the draft Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016 was released, more than 43,000 signatures have been added to …
Iain Thomson, 14 Apr 2016

Uninstall QuickTime for Windows: Apple will not patch its security bugs

RIP QuickTime for Windows. Apple is "deprecating support" for the application, and will no longer patch security flaws in the software. The iGiant is also quietly advising users to uninstall the media player from their Windows machines to avoid being hacked. Word of the end of support comes from infosec biz Trend Micro. It …
Iain Thomson, 14 Apr 2016

Facebook open-sources city-wide WiGig internet comms, phone masts

Facebook's quest to connect the remaining four billion people on the planet without internet access up to Facebook the web is a huge task. On Thursday, Facebook showed off its open-source telecommunications tech that it hopes will get unconnected folks connected, and give those of us already on the internet a smoother ride. …
Iain Thomson, 14 Apr 2016

Warrant-less email snatching by cops, Feds under threat by draft law

The US House Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved the Email Privacy Act (EPA) – which will require the police and Feds to get a warrant before searching email accounts. Under the current rules established by the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), officers and agents only need a subpoena, which can be …
Iain Thomson, 14 Apr 2016

Line by line, how the US anti-encryption bill will kill our privacy, security

Analysis In the wake of the FBI's failed fight against Apple, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have introduced a draft bill that would effectively ban strong crypto. The bill would require tech and communications companies to allow law enforcement with a court order to decrypt their customers' data. Last week a …
Iain Thomson, 13 Apr 2016
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure

Sprint in racist ad storm

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has issued a groveling apology after the US telco put out an advert widely perceived to be racist. "My job is to listen to consumers. Our point was to share customer views. Bad judgment on our part. Apologies. Taking the video down," he tweeted. The advert showed a focus group being asked what they …
Iain Thomson, 13 Apr 2016
Artist's impression of a cloudy exoplanet

Astroboffin discovers exoplanet by accident ... in 1917

A reexamination of astronomical records has shown that an astronomer unknowingly snapped an exoplanet during the First World War – well before such bodies were confirmed in the 1990s. In 1917 Dutch-American astronomer Adriaan van Maanen, working at the Mount Wilson Observatory (then part of Carnegie Observatories), took a …
Iain Thomson, 13 Apr 2016
Reliance free internet from Internet.org

Half of Facebook's Free Basics users ditch the freebie web-lite service for the paid-for real deal

Internet.org aka Free Basics – Facebook's slice of the web for the developing world – has been controversial, but that isn't stopping the social network. The internet service requires a SIM card from a participating mobile operator, and grants free access to Facebook, BBC News, Dictionary.com, er, ESPN and a few other sites. …
Iain Thomson, 13 Apr 2016

Zuck: You're still using non-Facebook websites ... I'll put an end to that

At the opening keynote of the Facebook F8 developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg has outlined his company's plan to get everyone online and hooked on Facebook within the next decade. "Instead of building walls we can help people build bridges, instead of dividing people we can bring people together – one connection at a time, …
Iain Thomson, 12 Apr 2016

Infected with Petya ransomware? This tool will rescue your data

An anonymous security researcher has published code that can unlock the encryption used by the Petya ransomware that surfaced last month. The ransomware – first spotted hitting German computer users – reboots the infected Windows PC, pretends to run a CHKDSK program while encrypting the hard drive's file system tables, …
Iain Thomson, 12 Apr 2016

Prof Hawking space riddle

Professor Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner will hold a press conference in New York City on Tuesday announcing the rather mysterious Starshot initiative. No details have been released as yet about the space exploration program, but the press conference will begin at 1600 UTC (0900 PST) and will be streamed …
Iain Thomson, 11 Apr 2016

Texas Attorney General charged in 32-bit 'eco-friendly server scam'

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged the CEO of Texas server manufacturer Servergy, one of its board members, and the state's Attorney General with fraud over claims of revolutionary low-powered computer hardware. The SEC alleges that between 2009 and 2013 Servergy's then-CEO William Mapp misled …
Iain Thomson, 11 Apr 2016

NASA gives blacked-out Kepler space 'scope the kiss of life

The Kepler space telescope is back in action after mysteriously shifting into emergency mode last week. "Mission operations engineers have successfully recovered the Kepler spacecraft from Emergency Mode (EM)," said Charlie Sobeck, Kepler's mission manager at NASA's Ames Research Center. "On Sunday morning, the spacecraft …
Iain Thomson, 11 Apr 2016
Elon Musk

SpaceX's Musk: We'll reuse today's Falcon 9 rocket within 2 months

SpaceX supremo Elon Musk said his Falcon 9 rocket that made its historic robo-barge landing on Friday will be flying up into space again by June. "We'll bring the rocket back to Port Canaveral on Sunday and fire it 10 times in a row on the ground," he said. "If things look good then it is qualified for reuse and launch. We're …
Iain Thomson, 09 Apr 2016

Watch: SpaceX finally lands Falcon rocket on robo-barge in one piece

Video SpaceX has finally succeeded in landing the first stage of its Falcon rocket at sea – after blasting off more supplies to the orbiting International Space Station. Landing from the chase plane pic.twitter.com/2Q5qCaPq9P — SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 8, 2016 What you're seeing here is the lower stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket …
Iain Thomson, 08 Apr 2016

Read America's insane draft crypto-borking law that no one's willing to admit they wrote

A draft copy of a US law to criminalize strong encryption, thought to be authored by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), has been leaked online. And the internet is losing its shit. "We're still working on finalizing a discussion draft and as a result can't comment on language in specific versions of the …
Iain Thomson, 08 Apr 2016