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Iain Thomson

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Extended Random: The PHANTOM NSA-RSA backdoor that never was

Over the last day or so the security press has been touting stories of a second NSA-induced backdoor in RSA's encryption software BSafe. But it appears to be more sound and fury than substance. The brouhaha was kicked off by a Reuters report into an as-yet-unpublished academic study examining the cryptographically crap Dual …
Iain Thomson, 02 Apr 2014
yawn

Page through Page's page page-views: Google+ shows how many saw your profile

Google has added a new feature to its Google+ kinda-social network that identifies how many people have looked at your profile page, blog and photos on Google+. "Starting today you’ll see a new number on your Google+ profile or page: total content views," said Eddie Kessler, a Google engineering manager. "This number is the sum …
Iain Thomson, 01 Apr 2014
World Cup kicking exoskeleton

Soccer's dull? A MIND-CONTROLLED robo-suit will be used to take first World Cup 2014 kick

When the football (soccer for our American readers) World Cup 2014 kicks off in June, the first person to put boot to ball will be a Brazilian paraplegic person using a robotic exoskeleton controlled by an electronic skull cap. World Cup kicking exoskeleton MOre intelligent than Wayne Rooney? The robotic exoskeleton, …
Iain Thomson, 01 Apr 2014

Dropbox nukes bloke's file share in DMCA brouhaha – then admits it made a 'HASH OF IT'

A Dropbox user sparked outrage after he revealed he was blocked from sharing a file he'd deposited in the online storage locker – because it was the target of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) anti-piracy takedown notice. The trouble started when designer Darrell Whitelaw found he couldn't share a file in a personal …
Iain Thomson, 31 Mar 2014
3D printed skull

Dutch doctors replace woman's skull with 3D-printed plastic copy

Doctors at the University Medical Center in Utrecht have saved a woman's life – by carrying out the first skull transplant using plastic parts built in a 3D printer. The unnamed 22-year-old patient was suffering from a rare condition that caused the inside of her skull to grow extra bone, which squeezed her brain. The growth was …
Iain Thomson, 29 Mar 2014

Microsoft: Let's be clear, WE won't read your email – but the cops will

Microsoft has today performed a second volte-face in the Hotmail scanning scandal, and this time it looks serious. There was uproar after the software giant revealed it had rummaged through a blogger's Hotmail inbox to snare an employee who had allegedly leaked pre-release Windows 8 software. Microsoft runs Hotmail as part of …
Iain Thomson, 28 Mar 2014
Tesla fire

Tesla firms hot bottoms: TITANIUM armor now bolted to Model S e-cars

Tesla is adding a three-level shield of aluminum and titanium to the underside of its Model S e-car to eliminate the possibility of battery blazes and placate US safety authorities. In separate accidents, two of the electric rides burst into flames shortly after running over debris in the road: in each case, whatever they hit …
Iain Thomson, 28 Mar 2014

First pics: Comet-chaser Rosetta hurtles towards icy prey, camera in hand

The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe has sent back the first two aligned images of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet it has been chasing for ten years and nearly 800 million kilometres. Rosetta comet picture - wide angle Wide angle, tiny target ... that spec is what the ESA is trying to land on The Rosetta mission …
Iain Thomson, 28 Mar 2014

LenovOUCH! Thinkpad's overheating batteries spark recall alert

Lenovo has recalled a slew of ThinkPad batteries after two customers reported overheating problems. "On March 27, 2014, Lenovo voluntarily recalled certain lithium-ion batteries. These batteries were manufactured for use with ThinkPad notebook computers that shipped worldwide between October 2010 and April 2011," the company …
Iain Thomson, 27 Mar 2014
Nadella

FINALLY Microsoft releases Office for iPad – but wait there's a CATCH

Microsoft has, after years of speculation, released some of its Office applications for Apple iPad owners – but you'll need an Office 365 subscription to use them in anything other than a lobotomized form. Nadella Nadella holds his first press conference since taking former CEO Steve Ballmer's crown The Apple App Store now …
Iain Thomson, 27 Mar 2014
The orbit of dwarf planet VP113, or Biden, and Sedna

ECCENTRIC, PINK DWARF dubbed 'Biden' by saucy astronomers

A new dwarf planet has been discovered in the Inner Oort cloud that encircles our Solar System some 12 billion miles from Sol. The planet is a frozen shrimp of a thing – an estimated 450 kilometres across with a surface temperature of -432 degrees Fahrenheit and is presumed to be largely made up of ice that gives it a reddish …
Iain Thomson, 27 Mar 2014

AMD teases workstation pros with 16GB FirePro W9100 graphics card

AMD has been showing off a new monster graphics card that it hopes will be one in the eye for Nvidia – and secure its fortunes in the face of a dwindling PC market. AMD W9100 AMD's new power card for the 4K set (click to enlarge) The new W9100 carries whopping 16GB of DDR5 memory with a bandwidth of about 320GB/s, and can …
Iain Thomson, 26 Mar 2014
TWIT billboard

You TWITS! Facebook exec erects billboards shaming texting drivers

A Facebook exec is so sick of drivers texting behind the wheel that he now photographs them and puts the images on billboards to shame them. "I've been blown away by the number of people texting while in traffic, on the freeway," Brian Singer, manager of communication design at Facebook, told Gizmodo. "For every nose picker, …
Iain Thomson, 26 Mar 2014
Obama outlines NSA reforms

Hold on, everyone ... Prez Obama thinks he's cracked this NSA super-snooping problem

After nine months of revelations about the extent of US government surveillance, the Obama administration is floating a plan that will curtail mass snooping by its intelligence agencies and reform the way individuals are investigated. "I said several months ago that I was assigning our intelligence community to bring me new …
Iain Thomson, 26 Mar 2014
FBcoldstoragearray

Facebook flashes its One Tool To Rule Them All in security threat analysis

Facebook has bragged about a new internal tool that combines all sorts of live data on internet security threats – such as any new malware doing the rounds and known dodgy URLS. The social network's engineers said the utility, imaginatively dubbed ThreatData, collects software nasties shared by researchers and also throws in …
Iain Thomson, 26 Mar 2014
Microsoft Word

As WinXP death looms, Microsoft releases its operating system SOURCE CODE for free

Retro-computing fans got a treat on Tuesday when Microsoft donated the source code of MS DOS 1.1 and 2 to the Computer History Museum (CHM), along with the first version of Word for Windows. "Version 1.1 fits an entire operating system – limited as it was – into only 12KB of memory, which is tiny compared to today's software," …
Iain Thomson, 25 Mar 2014

Forget black hats – the best hackers are going grey and getting legit

A report from the Rand Corporation suggests the increasing market for software vulnerabilities that can be sold legitimately is tempting the most 1337 hackers and crackers to go legit, rather than suffer the vagaries of the black market in code and credentials. "There's an economic seesaw in the market," Michael Callahan, VP of …
Iain Thomson, 25 Mar 2014
blackmail

Extortion racket borks Basecamp servers with 20Gbps web bombing

Users of Basecamp's project management software experienced an outage this morning, with more possible in the future, after the company was blown off the internet in a distributed denial-of-service attack when it refused to pay off crooks. The attack hit at 0846 Central Time (1346 UTC) on Monday and knocked the company's servers …
Iain Thomson, 24 Mar 2014
TerminatorGoogle

Google pulls SCHAFT out of military honeypot, sprays gold at bot team

The team behind SCHAFT, the best-built bot so far in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, will stop dipping into the $1m prize pot it was awarded by the US military – and will instead rely on funds from its new owner, Google. "The decision by Team SCHAFT to self-fund allows DARPA to expand the competition and further develop disaster …
Iain Thomson, 24 Mar 2014

AT&T and Netflix get into very public spat over net neutrality

Friday is the deadline for public comment on US comms watchdog the FCC's forthcoming net neutrality regulations. And, as the deadline approaches, two of the major protagonists have got into a (sometimes bitchy) online spat. On Thursday Netflix CEO Reed Hastings published a pugnacious blog post saying that the FCC needs to …
Iain Thomson, 22 Mar 2014
Glasshole

TEN THINGS Google believes you believe about Glassholes and wishes you didn't

Google Glass wearers, or Explorers as Google likes to call them, have been getting some bad press of late, and the company has been moved to defend the headsets against the rise of rumor and speculation. "Mr. Rogers was a Navy SEAL. A tooth placed in soda will dissolve in 24 hours. Gators roam the sewers of big cities and Walt …
Iain Thomson, 21 Mar 2014

Google grabs Gmail-using HTTPS refuseniks and coats them with SSL

Google has announced that from Thursday all connections to its Gmail website will be encrypted in transit using HTTPS – and messages will be encrypted when being moved around the web giant's data centers. "Every single email message you send or receive - 100 per cent of them - is encrypted while moving internally," wrote Nicolas …
Iain Thomson, 21 Mar 2014
Sergy Brin meets Snowden

'Arrogant' Snowden putting lives at risk, says NSA's deputy spyboss

Two days after NSA leaker Edward Snowden addressed the latest TED technology jamboree in robot form, the US intelligence agency has also made an appearance – with deputy director Richard Ledgett dialing in by video link. Ledgett said the NSA's core problem was that it was lousy at PR, rather than that it was invading innocent …
Iain Thomson, 20 Mar 2014
Dunce

Symantec fires CEO Steve Bennett: To lose 1 chief is unfortunate, to lose 2 is OK, apparently

Symantec has fired its second CEO in two years: the company's chief exec, president and former board chairman Steve Bennett was today shown the door after less than 18 months on the job. "We recognize Steve's contributions to Symantec, including developing and leading a series of successful initiatives focused on organizational …
Iain Thomson, 20 Mar 2014

Twitter turns 8: Five tech kingpins whose first tweets are UNBELIEVABLE

Twitter celebrated its eighth birthday today, and has provided a tool to help tweeters pull up their first ever tweet. "In 2006, people began to say a little something on Twitter through 140-character bursts of plain text," the newly IPO'd company said in a blog post. "Eight years later, our users have transformed Twitter into …
Iain Thomson, 20 Mar 2014

Tech giants KNEW about PRISM, web snooping, claims top NSA lawyer

The NSA's general counsel Rajesh De says technology firms were fully aware of both America's web surveillance program PRISM and the mass monitoring of upstream internet traffic. On Wednesday, De told a meeting in Washington, organized by the US government's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), that data …
Iain Thomson, 20 Mar 2014

New WebCL toolkit hooks browser apps into GPUs – and that's not good news for Apple

Web browsers apps on PCs and smartphones will be able to hook directly into the system's graphics chip and boost performance, thanks to the first WebCL release. WebCL 1.0 is a set of JavaScript bindings to the OpenCL graphics programming standard, its developers the Khronos Group announced today: the software interface lets in- …
Iain Thomson, 20 Mar 2014
Tim Berners-Lee and Edward Snowden

ROBO-SNOWDEN: Iraq, the internet – two places the US govt invaded that weren't a threat

Whistleblower Edward Snowden has appeared on stage at a TED conference in Canada via a remote-controlled robotic screen – and was hailed as a hero by the Web's founding father Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Tim Berners-Lee and Edward Snowden Father of the web meets one of its sons ... Berners-Lee, far left, and right, the Robo-Snowden …
Iain Thomson, 19 Mar 2014
Joe Sullivan

Facebook security chief: We're not encrypting everything between our data centers just yet

A couple of weeks ago Facebook scheduled a press powwow with its chief security officer Joe Sullivan to discuss defenses for the social network and its users. Then, a week later, Sullivan's boss made an angry call to the White House to complain about intelligence agents using Facebook as a conduit for spying on people. "I don’t …
Iain Thomson, 19 Mar 2014
solar storm

NASA: Earth JUST dodged comms-killing SOLAR BLAST in 2012

A new analysis of data from NASA's Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) by Chinese and Berkeley helioboffins shows that a July 2012 solar storm of unprecedented size would have wiped out global electronic systems if it had occurred just nine days earlier. "Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big …
Iain Thomson, 19 Mar 2014
gravity waves

Grav waves: Moment when 'father of Big Bang inflation' learns he was RIGHT ALL ALONG

Returning soldiers with children running into their arms. The look of shock during a birth or marriage proposal. Thanks to the ubiquity of phones, cameras and social networks, you're never far from a reaction shot online. And occasionally these snaps swerve around Facebook walls and into the history books. The BICEP2 team spent …
Iain Thomson, 18 Mar 2014
cubestormer

This record-smashing robot solves a Rubik's Cube in 3.253 seconds

Forty years after the invention of the Rubik's Cube, the puzzle that's done more to induce finger injuries in youngsters than any games console, has been cracked at lightning speed by a Lego-built robot controlled by a Samsung S4 smartphone. The team behind the new Guinness World Record-winning robot consists of David Gilday, …
Iain Thomson, 18 Mar 2014
oneNote

Spend zero notes to take all notes with OneNote: Microsoft makes app free, builds it for OS X

Microsoft is making its Office OneNote application free for all users, creating a version for Apple's OS X, and opening up key parts of the API so developers can hook it into online cloud services. "Today is a huge step forward for OneNote. We’ve made it easier to use OneNote no matter what platform you’re on, and easier than …
Iain Thomson, 17 Mar 2014
gravity waves

GRAV WAVE TSUNAMI boffinry BONANZA – the aftershock of the universe's Big Bang

A team of astrophysicists has announced a sighting of gravitational waves – formed in the first trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the universe as we know it blinked into existence. The breakthrough discovery throws enormous weight behind the famous inflationary Big Bang theory. The boffins must be …
Iain Thomson, 17 Mar 2014
Samsung logo

Samsung puts ultrasonic echolocation cover on a smartphone for the blind

The visually impaired will be able to use their smartphones to see for them, using an ultrasonic case Samsung has made for its low-end Galaxy Core Advance handset. Samsung ultrasound cover The machine that goes ping The Samsung Ultrasonic Cover pings a signal much like a bat and uses the reflection to identify objects within …
Iain Thomson, 15 Mar 2014
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Is no browser safe? Security bods poke holes in Chrome, Safari, IE, Firefox and earn $1m

The Pwn2Own and Pwnium hacking contests at the annual CanSecWest conference in Vancouver have earned security researchers over a million dollars in prizes, exposed 34 serious zero-day flaws in popular code, and earned over $82,000 for the Canadian Red Cross. In each of the Pwn2Own and Pwnium competitions, contestants are …
Iain Thomson, 14 Mar 2014

Google encrypts Chinese search requests to subvert Great Firewall

Google is to begin encrypting its web search service for users on the Chinese mainland as part of a general beefing up of the privacy of its users worldwide. Search terms and results pages will be sent over secure connections to thwart government spies and other eavesdroppers. "The revelations of this past summer underscored our …
Iain Thomson, 14 Mar 2014
Huawei Ascend P6

Huawei: We'll sell a dual-boot Android, Windows 8 smartphone because, well, isn't it obvious?

Huawei is planning an assault on the American smartphone market with a dual-boot smartphone running both Google's Android operating system and Redmond's Windows Phone. "With Windows Phone, one direction for us – and one that we are now following – is dual OS. Dual OS as in Android and Windows together," Shao Yang, Huawei's chief …
Iain Thomson, 13 Mar 2014
Artist's impression of the Lythronax argestes

Behold, the TITCHY T-REX that prowled the warm Arctic of long ago

Paleontologists have discovered the head of a new pigmy breed of Tyrannosaurus rex that roamed the Arctic more than 70 million years ago. The remains of Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, or polar bear lizard, were dug up in 2006, but it is only now that a team from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Texas has managed to identify it …
Iain Thomson, 13 Mar 2014
Smug ginger tom

Web inventor Berners-Lee: I so did NOT see this cat vid thing coming

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has had a busy day of it. On the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web (not the internet) he's launched a campaign for an internet bill of rights, has given plenty of interviews, and on Wednesday afternoon took to Reddit to take questions from the public. "The web is a primarily neutral tool for humanity. …
Iain Thomson, 13 Mar 2014
Research@Intel: Wireless Resonant Energy Link demo

Wireless charging standards war could be over 'as soon as 2015'

Standards wars are par for the course in the technology industry: CDMA v GSM, Blu-Ray v HD DVD, VHS v Betamax. When it comes to wireless power, there are three players in the field – but according to one, the war should be over far sooner than most people expect. Last month two of the three players in the wireless power field, …
Iain Thomson, 13 Mar 2014
NSA parody T-shirt

NSA's TURBINE robot can pump 'malware into MILLIONS of PCs'

The latest batch of top-secret intelligence documents from the hoard collected by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden detail the massive increase in the agency's use of its Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking unit – including a system dubbed TURBINE that can spam out millions of pieces of sophisticated malware at a time. The …
Iain Thomson, 12 Mar 2014
Volcano erupting

We all owe our EXISTENCE to lovely VOLCANOES, say boffins

Research by the British Antarctic Survey has found that volcanos played a crucial role in preserving life when our world went through one of its periodic ice ages. From time to time in Earth's history, the planet cools and an ice cover extends from the poles to cover large sections of the planet's surface. It's even hypothesized …
Iain Thomson, 12 Mar 2014
Masayoshi Son

Softbank boss promises 'massive price war' if he can buy T-Mobile US

The billionaire boss of Softbank, which owns US network Sprint, has promised a price and technology war with American mobile market leaders AT&T and Verizon – if he's allowed to merge with T-Mobile US, of course. Masayoshi Son made the promise during an interview with PBS' Charlie Rose, as embedded below. Son said Verizon and AT …
Iain Thomson, 11 Mar 2014
Feinstein

CIA hacked Senate PCs to delete torture reports. And Senator Feinstein is outraged

US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has issued a rare public rebuke to the CIA after the agency hacked into a Senate committee's computers to remove documents describing agents' torture enhanced interrogation of terrorist suspects. "I have asked for an apology and a recognition that this CIA search of computers used by its …
Iain Thomson, 11 Mar 2014

Merger with Sprint is INEVITABLE, suggests T-Mobile chief bean counter

Braxton Carter, the chief financial officer for T-Mobile, has said that it's highly likely his firm will merge with larger US mobile rival Sprint. "It is not a question of if, it is a question of when," Carter said, Reuters reports. "To take a third-scale national player that has the scale benefits with the right business model …
Iain Thomson, 11 Mar 2014
LED

Boffins build bendy screen using LEDs just THREE atoms thick

A team of scientists at the University of Washington (UW) have created the world's thinnest LED that is both flexible and stackable, making a new class of handheld devices and light-driven processor chips feasible. LED Team shine light on single layer LEDs ... a plane of the 2D lights "These are 10,000 times smaller than the …
Iain Thomson, 11 Mar 2014
snowden SXSW

Snowden: You can't trust SPOOKS with your DATA

Irony meters exploded when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, addressing the SXSW conference via video link today, urged programmers to encrypt their data to protect it from, er, prying eyes. snowden SXSW Snowden wraps himself in US constitutions Snowden, a former CIA technician, addressed the audience in Austin, Texas, in a …
Iain Thomson, 10 Mar 2014
colbert

RSA booked TV's Stephen Colbert to give the final speech. This is what happened next

Comedian Stephen Colbert closed down the RSA 2014 conference in San Francisco on Friday with a characteristically smart yet snarky roasting for his hosts, the NSA, and Edward Snowden. "RSA developed this conference in 1991 as a forum for cryptographers to gather and talk shop, and I assume breed with one another. Of course …
Iain Thomson, 01 Mar 2014
Dunce

How a Facebook post by blabbermouth daughter cost her parents $80,000

A Florida dad is $80,000 poorer after his daughter went on Facebook to brag about a court settlement he received – and lost him the lot. Patrick Snay is the former headmaster of Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami, and in 2011 he launched legal action against his old employers after his contract was not renewed. Snay claimed he …
Iain Thomson, 01 Mar 2014