Shaun Nichols

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Man in an orange jumpsuit clutches prison bars. Image by Shutterstock

Bloke, 22, in knockoff Microsoft Xbox ring gets 18 months in the cooler

A 22-year-old member of a games-hacking ring that sold counterfeit Microsoft's Xbox One consoles could spend the next year and a half behind bars in America. A US court sentenced Canadian David Pokora to 18 months in the slammer for his involvement in a group accused of stealing an estimated $100m to 200m worth of source code …
Shaun Nichols, 24 Apr 2015

Comcast flees $45bn monster-merger with Time Warner Cable

Comcast has admitted it has given up on its $45bn acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC). Comcast, America's biggest cable giant, announced in the past few hours that it will end the pursuit of its largest rival amid stiff opposition from government watchdogs and other telcos. "Today, we move on," declared Comcast CEO Brian …
Shaun Nichols, 24 Apr 2015
Shopping trolley. Pic: Mikey, Flickr

Looking for laxatives, miss? Shoppers stalked via smartphone Wi-Fi

The FTC has now settled with a New York startup that stealthily tracks the movements of Americans around stores using their smartphones' Wi-Fi signals. The regulator alleged [PDF] in late 2013 that Nomi Technologies broke the FTC Act by not being totally upfront with shoppers. Nomi's Listen service is used by retail chains to …
Shaun Nichols, 24 Apr 2015
Close-up of the flu virus (artist's impression) - Shutterstock

US judge lobs antivirus patents back to Hell

A US district court has torn the heart out of two patents wielded by Intellectual Ventures against two antivirus makers. In a judgment [PDF] this week, Chief Judge Leonard Stark ruled that Intellectual Ventures' US patents 6,460,050 and 6,073,142 were "ineligible," meaning they are too vague and the technologies they described …
Shaun Nichols, 24 Apr 2015

Comcast 'flees $45bn monster-merger with Time Warner Cable'

Comcast is walking away from its proposed $45bn merger with Time Warner Cable (TWC), insiders claim. Comcast will announce as early as Friday its intent to scrap its plans for the mega-acquisition, according to well-placed sources speaking to Bloomberg. Comcast did not take up The Register's offer to deny the claims. The …
Shaun Nichols, 23 Apr 2015
Facebook Hello

Facebook invents Caller ID ... say Hello to today's staggering technology

Facebook has released a smartphone app called Hello that matches the numbers of incoming calls to friends and businesses on the social network, and displays them on-screen, giving you a slightly better idea of who's calling if you can't recognize the digits. It's otherwise known as Caller ID, and the tech fashion press is going …
Shaun Nichols, 22 Apr 2015
Hackers

FBI alert: Get these motherf'king hackers off this motherf'king plane

The FBI is warning airlines to keep an eye out for miscreants hacking airplane computer networks mid-flight. The alert – privately circulated today by the FBI's InfraGard program – claims hackers may or may not be able to take over a plane's navigational system via the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system or public Wi-Fi network …
Shaun Nichols, 22 Apr 2015
Photo by Mike Mozart

Comcast accused of torpedoing Hulu sale to rivals with weapon of mass transactions

Comcast allegedly talked its fellow Hulu investors out of selling the TV streaming upstart to DirecTV or AT&T by insisting it could steer the web biz to financial triumph. That's a serious accusation because Comcast had agreed with the FCC and US Department of Justice to keep its hands off the management of Hulu. In the end, …
Shaun Nichols, 22 Apr 2015
Cow skull

TV networks peck at sun-bleached skeleton of Aereo, come away with $950,000

The skeletal remains of ill-fated TV streaming startup Aereo will pay out $950,000 in a copyright infringement settlement, putting to rest a lawsuit filed by US broadcasters that has already sent it into bankruptcy. For a couple of years, Aereo operated an online video service that captured live television broadcasts, recorded …
Shaun Nichols, 22 Apr 2015

OS X Yosemite still open to Rootpipe hijacking, says ex-NSA bod

Apple's attempt to fix a serious security weakness in OS X has fallen short, leaving users still vulnerable to malware seizing their Macs, it is claimed. Patrick Wardle, director of research at Synack, reckons Cupertino has not been able to fully kill off the so-called "Rootpipe" backdoor that was supposed to be eradicated in …
Shaun Nichols, 21 Apr 2015
Tim Cook

Dead Steve Jobs' wage-fixing pact in Silicon Valley was news to us, claim Apple directors

Apple insists its top execs were not aware of the employee wage-fixing pact Steve Jobs apparently had between his Silicon Valley rivals. Apple stockholder R. Andre Klein is suing the iPhone giant's CEO Tim Cook, a handful of its directors and the Jobs' estate, on behalf of the company's shareholders, claiming the top brass must …
Shaun Nichols, 21 Apr 2015

Lawyer: Cops dropped robbery case rather than detail FBI's StingRay phone snoop gizmo

Prosecutors in St Louis, Missouri, have dropped a criminal robbery case to avoid revealing details of a controversial mobile phone surveillance program, a defense attorney has claimed. The St Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the state dropped more than a dozen charges against three defendants just one day before police were …
Shaun Nichols, 21 Apr 2015

That's right: FBI agents can't pretend to be ISP repairmen to search homes without a warrant

Evidence gathered by FBI agents who posed as broadband repairmen to enter a suspect's villa without a warrant has been thrown out by a US judge. The District Court of Nevada has decided [PDF] that the g-men violated the Fourth Amendment rights of poker ace Wei Seng Phua when they searched his Las Vegas bolthole while disguised …
Shaun Nichols, 20 Apr 2015
Photo by Mike Mozart

Comcast, Time Warner Cable in crunch talks with FCC, DoJ over $42bn mega-merger

The proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable (TWC) is on the rocks, it appears. Sources close to the two companies have told The Wall Street Journal that the US Department of Justice and the FCC are not happy with the proposed business gobble, and both want to hold face-to-face talks to discuss the ins and outs of the …
Shaun Nichols, 20 Apr 2015
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

Budge up, Navy boys, I've got some broadband spectrum to flog – FCC

US watchdog the FCC hopes to offer more airwaves to telcos in hope they'll be used to grow mobile broadband coverage in America. The commission announced on Friday that it wants to add 100MHz to the 50MHz of spectrum in the 3550MHz to 3700MHz band already available for commercial use. The US Department of Defense operates a few …
Shaun Nichols, 17 Apr 2015
Michael Bromwich

Ebook price-fix saga: Official Apple peeler says probe is fruitless

A US court-appointed watchdog tasked with ensuring Apple sticks to its e-book price-fixing settlement promises says the iThing giant is not playing ball. In a report [PDF] submitted to the New York Southern District Court, external compliance monitor Michael Bromwich claims Apple has not cooperated with his efforts to examine …
Shaun Nichols, 17 Apr 2015
Google Play Store

'Hackers racked up $$$$s via the Android Play Store, and Google won't pay me back'

A California woman is suing Google, alleging hackers exploited the ad giant's inadequate security to run up thousands of dollars in charges on her Play Store account. Susan Harvey, of Orange County, also accuses Google of refusing to reimburse her, and then after backing down and agreeing to refund the missing money, has not …
Shaun Nichols, 17 Apr 2015
AVSWinvote box

Default admin password, weak Wi-Fi, open USB ports ... no wonder these electronic voting boxes are now BANNED

The US state of Virginia is decommissioning a long-serving electronic voting system after learning of its gaping security holes. The state's Board of Elections was urged to decertify the Wi-Fi-connected Advanced Voting Systems WINVote system after the boxes were found to lack basic security measures against physical and …
Shaun Nichols, 17 Apr 2015

Yelp can protect critics in rough reviews row: Virginia yanks rug from under furious carpet biz

Top judges in Virginia have ruled that Yelp can keep the identities of its anonymous reviewers a secret from Hadeed Carpet Cleaning Inc – a cleaning business that wanted to sue the armchair critics for defamation. In a majority opinion [PDF] handed down today, the state's supreme court overturned a 2014 appeals court verdict …
Shaun Nichols, 16 Apr 2015
MacBook Pro Retina torn down

Revealed: The AMAZING technology behind Apple's $1299 Retina MacBooks – a lot of glue

Pics Apple really doesn't want its customers to be able to repair or upgrade their own computers. The Cupertino giant has done just about everything in its power to render the new Retina MacBooks impossible to open and fix. This is according to DIY site iFixIt, which has published an extensive teardown report on the latest OS X …
Shaun Nichols, 16 Apr 2015
ChambersCiscoLive2014

Cisco boss Chambers: It's our fault H-1B visa shakeup is struggling

Cisco CEO John Chambers says the tech world has to win over the American public if it wants the US government to issue thousands more H-1B work visas to foreign nerds. H-1B visas are like Willy Wonka's golden tickets: about 85,000 a year are granted to skilled foreigners – such as software engineers and other techies – allowing …
Shaun Nichols, 15 Apr 2015
Oracle headquarters

Oracle grunts, grimaces, pushes out 98-flaw security patch batch

Oracle has patched nearly 100 security flaws in Java, Fusion Middleware, Database, MySQL and other products. For Java SE, the update fixes 14 CVE-listed bugs. All of the flaws are remotely exploitable without authentication to compromise a victim's computer, and three were given risk assessment scores of 10 out of 10. (Psst ... …
Shaun Nichols, 15 Apr 2015

It's 2015 and a RICH TEXT FILE or a HTTP request can own your Windows machine

Microsoft has delivered its latest monthly batch of security updates to address flaws in Windows, Office and Internet Explorer. Redmond's latest Patch Tuesday payload includes 11 bulletins, four of which are rated critical as they allow attackers to execute malicious code on victims' computers from across the internet. The full …
Shaun Nichols, 15 Apr 2015
Good riddance to bad Java

Chrome version 42 will pour your Java coffee down the drain: Plugin blocked by default

The latest release of the Chrome web browser, version 42, will block Oracle's Java plugin by default as well as other extensions that use the deprecated NPAPI. The Chrome 42 – available now – brings about the end of official support for NPAPI, a move that will render various plugins incompatible with the browser. Among those …
Shaun Nichols, 14 Apr 2015

Adobe, Level 3 drive a stake through heart of vid-stream creature before it attacks again

The US Patent and Trademark Office has torn up parts of a video-streaming technology patent used against Adobe and Level 3 Communications in a patent-infringement legal scrap. The office's Patent Trial and Appeal Board has invalidated chunks of patent 5,995,091, which describes a "system and method for streaming multimedia data …
Shaun Nichols, 14 Apr 2015
Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Got iOS 8.3 installed? Pssh, you are SO last week… version 8.4 is out

Apple has released beta builds of the iOS 8.4, now the latest version available for registered developers. The Cupertino idiot-tax operation announced the release of the build on Monday. Among the reported features being previewed in the iOS beta is an overhaul to the Music app. Early screenshots of the player suggest Apple is …
Shaun Nichols, 14 Apr 2015

Four boggling websites we found hidden in the BitTorrent network using the Maelstrom browser

Pics BitTorrent has released its Maelstrom combo-browser to all as a beta release. Maelstrom merges the open-source Chromium web browser with a BitTorrent client, so you can fetch and render regular webpages on the internet, and download movies Game of Thrones music Linux ISOs stuff from the BitTorrent file-sharing network, all from …
Shaun Nichols, 14 Apr 2015
Snake oil salesman

Seriously, stop claiming your two-buck photo app can detect cancer

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reached a final settlement with an app developer accused of misleading people into believing its software could detect skin cancer. The commission said Health Discovery Corporation, the makers of the $1.99 MelApp application for iPhones, will no longer be able to claim that it can either …
Shaun Nichols, 13 Apr 2015
China censorship

China weaponizes its Great Firewall into the GREAT FIRE CANNON, menaces entire globe

China has upgraded the website-blocking systems on its borders, dubbed The Great Firewall, so it can blast foreign businesses and orgs off the internet. Researchers from the University of Toronto, the International Computer Science Institute, the University of California Berkeley and Princeton University, have confirmed what we' …
Shaun Nichols, 10 Apr 2015
FBI badge and gun

Sprint fined $16m for sticking it to The Man: Telco 'overcharged' Feds for phone wiretaps

Sprint has agreed to pay a $15.5m fine after it was accused of overcharging the Feds when carrying out court-ordered wiretaps. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) claimed the American telco had gouged cops and g-men between 2007 and 2010: Sprint allegedly over-billed them by at least $21m for setting up wiretaps to record phone …
Shaun Nichols, 10 Apr 2015

ICANN urges US, Canada: Help us stop the 'predatory' monster we created ... dot-sucks!

DNS overlord ICANN – which opened the floodgates to waves of new dot-word domains on the internet – says it needs help in killing one of those dot-words: .sucks. In a letter [PDF] to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Canadian Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA), ICANN claims .sucks domains are being sold to trademark owners …
Shaun Nichols, 10 Apr 2015

Intel, Cray bag $200m to build 180PFLOPS super for US nuke boffins

Intel and Cray have landed a $200m deal to build a 180-petaFLOPS supercomputer dubbed Aurora for the US Department of Energy. Intel will provide the chips – expected to include next-gen 10nm Knights Hill processor cores – and Cray will integrate it all together. If you look at the numbers, that's a rather small amount of money …
Terminator head

Oh, hi there, SKYNET: US military wants self-enhancing software that will outlive its creators

The US military's nerve-center of secret-squirrel boffinry DARPA wants to write software capable of running for a full century without becoming obsolete. Dubbed "Building Resource Adaptive Software Systems" (BRASS), the project [PDF] will look into the creation of a new software stack that can automatically make use of hardware …
Shaun Nichols, 09 Apr 2015

Fsck those new emojis! Install iOS 8.3, OS X 10.10.3 NOW to squash all these security bugs

Apple has released software updates to add features to and fix many bugs in its OS X and iOS operating systems. The iOS 8.3 overhaul will correct dozens of programming blunders, including glitches and dropouts with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Users reported problems with establishing and maintaining connections to wireless networks and …
Shaun Nichols, 09 Apr 2015

In the time it takes you to watch The Hangover, AT&T will pay a $25m fine for privacy scandal

AT&T will pay a $25m fine after crooked staff leaked subscribers' personal records to criminals flogging stolen cellphones. About 40 of telco's employees in its international call centers leafed through the accounts of 280,000 people without permission, pulling up their names, telephone numbers, and at least the last four digits …
Shaun Nichols, 08 Apr 2015

Marvell: We don't want to pay this $1.5bn patent bill because, cripes, it's way too much

Chip biz Marvell is still trying to wriggle out of paying a whopping $1.5bn to Carnegie Mellon University after infringing the college's patents. The design firm has now warned the penalty could have "sweeping consequences" – to its existence, we presume. Marvell, based in Santa Clara, California, was found guilty in 2012 of …
Shaun Nichols, 08 Apr 2015
Statue of Liberty

Non-American nerds jam immigration pleading for right to live in the US

Just one week after announcing it is once again accepting H-1B visa applications, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has slammed the floodgates shut. H-1B visas are like Willy Wonka's golden tickets: they are granted to skilled foreigners – such as software engineers and other techies – allowing them to live and …
Shaun Nichols, 08 Apr 2015

FTC: Hey, Network Solutions, time we had a chat about 'refunds'

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reached a settlement deal with web hosting provider Network Solutions over the latter's handling of customer refunds. The FTC had filed a complaint against Network Solutions arguing that the biz had been stiffing users on refunds given under its "30 Day Money Back Guarantee." The …
Shaun Nichols, 07 Apr 2015

Mobile 4G spectrum investors actually spent $12.4m on walkie-talkie frequencies – US SEC

Americans were duped into buying duff radio frequencies for $12.4m that they had hoped to sell to cellphone networks for double-digit returns, a US financial watchdog has claimed. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has accused [PDF] Arizona-based Janus Spectrum of tricking investors into thinking they were acquiring …
Shaun Nichols, 07 Apr 2015
al franken

Al Franken to FBI: We need MORE revenge smut arrests

Prominent US Senator Al Franken is calling on the FBI to do more to fight "revenge porn" sites. Franken (D-MN), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an open letter (PDF) to FBI director James Comey that he wants authorities to do more to track down and prosecute those who share imtimate photos without the subject' …
Shaun Nichols, 03 Apr 2015
Bender the robot from Futurama bends an unbendable girder

Tests show HTC, Sammy phablets BEND just like iPhone 6 Plus

Vid The bending epidemic that beset Apple's latest iPhone models is not isolated to Cupertinian kit, according to testers. A video posted on YouTube suggests that the Samsung Galaxy S6 could be even more prone to bending and breaking than the iPhone 6 Plus. A stress test found that not only would Sammy's phone bend, it could even …
Shaun Nichols, 03 Apr 2015
Dianne Feinstein

Light the torches! NSA's BFF Senator Feinstein calls for e-book burning

Senator Dianne Feinstein is calling for a pair of controversial instructionals to be banned from the internet. Feinstein (D-CA) did not say exactly how she plans to scrub The Anarchist Cookbook and Inspire magazine from every server, desktop and notebook on the planet, but none the less she wants both titles pulled from …
Shaun Nichols, 02 Apr 2015
Beats Music The Sentence

Take a deep breath, Apple: Europe snaps on gloves for vigorous iTunes stream pat-down

Apple is once again in the headlights of oncoming government regulators, this time over its forthcoming iTunes music-streaming service. Reports from The New York Times and Wall Street Journal cite well-placed sources claiming the Cupertino idiot-tax operation is being scrutinized by the European Commission over its dealings with …
Shaun Nichols, 02 Apr 2015
Fiber optics

Comcast: Google, we'll see your 1Gbps fiber and DOUBLE IT

So soon after Google promised Atlanta, Georgia, gigabit broadband, Comcast has said it will offer 2Gbps internet to homes in the city in May – and millions more Americans by 2016. The US cable colossus announced Thursday that its 2Gb/s Gigabit Pro service will debut in Atlanta, reaching 18 million homes across the US by the end …
Shaun Nichols, 02 Apr 2015
Xbox One

Teen pleads guilty in Microsoft and Valve hacking case

A man from Indiana has pleaded guilty for his role in a hacking ring that targeted major games developers. Austin Alcala, 19, from the town of McCordsville, admitted guilt (PDF) to charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and criminal copyright infringement. Alcala will be sentenced on a July 29 hearing, where he could …
Shaun Nichols, 02 Apr 2015
PlayStation Vita

PlayStation Vita owners – Sony owes you $25 cash or $50 credit

Sony and the FTC have agreed on a settlement deal that will include payouts to PlayStation Vita owners. The US watchdog gave final approval to a settlement deal with the US arm of the Japanese electronics giant and its advertising agency Deutsch LA. The deal, first proposed in November will allow users who purchased a …
Shaun Nichols, 01 Apr 2015
FTC building

Yes, AT&T, you do have to go to court with the FTC

AT&T will be forced to go to court with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its handling of unlimited data plans. Judge Edward Chen has struck down (PDF) AT&T's motion to have the FTC complaint dismissed, an order that will force the US telco giant to face charges of violating the Federal Trade Commission Act. Last …
Shaun Nichols, 01 Apr 2015
cookies_eyes_privacy evercookies flash cookies

Verizon: FINE OK, you can now rid your life of our stalker supercookies

Verizon has finally got around to giving its subscribers the option to opt out of its controversial supercookie tracking program. Customers can find the switch in their My Verizon account settings, or by calling the toll-free number (866) 211-0874. "Verizon Wireless provides customers the ability to opt-out of our advertising …
Shaun Nichols, 31 Mar 2015
Atmel SAM L21

Atmel stoops to an 'all-time low' in Internet of Things battle

Atmel reckons it has crafted the world's lowest-power ARM Cortex-M microcontrollers, a family of chips that can go for "decades" on the same batteries. The SAM-L21 family is aimed at "fire alarms, healthcare, medical, wearable, and devices placed in rural, agriculture, offshore and other remote areas." Atmel says samples of SAM- …
Shaun Nichols, 31 Mar 2015

Silicon Valley gets its first 1Gbps home bro– oh, there's a big catch

Silicon Valley, or rather a small patch of it, finally has gigabit home broadband – and it's not Google Fiber. And there are two catches. We often rag on AT&T for following Mountain View's advertising giant into markets, but in this case it seems the telco has beaten Google in its own backyard. The phone giant said it will …
Shaun Nichols, 31 Mar 2015