Daily Archives: February 9, 2017

Hacking the Aether: How Data Crosses the Air-Gap

It is incredibly interesting how many parts of a computer system are capable of leaking data in ways that is hard to imagine. Part of securing highly sensitive locations involves securing the computers and networks used in those facilities in order to prevent this. These IT security policies and practices have been evolving and tightening through the years, as malicious actors increasingly target vital infrastructure.Sometimes, when implementing strong security measures on a vital computer system, a technique called air-gapping is used. Air-gapping is a measure or set of measures to ensure a secure computer is physically isolated from unsecured networks, such as the public Internet or an unsecured local area network. Sometimes it’s just ensuring the computer is off the Internet. But it may mean completely isolating for the computer: removing WiFi cards, cameras, microphones, speakers, CD-ROM drives, USB ports, or whatever can be used to exchange data. In this article I will dive into air-gapped computers, air-gap covert channels, and how attackers might be able to exfiltrate information from such isolated systems.Many techniques presented here (but not all) would require a previous breach to have already compromised the isolated machine (usually installing some kind of malware in the process). This may have happened via a social engineering attack, an inside job, an undercover special operation or whatever James Bond scenario you have in mind, it’s not important for the current article scope. Although the malware delivery mechanism makes for an interesting problem and discussion, the scope of this article is on how to exfiltrate data after the breach (if a breach was, in fact, needed).

Source: Hacking the Aether: How Data Crosses the Air-Gap | Hackaday

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Russia bans adult website Brazzers for ‘damaging the human psyche’ 

Russian government thinks that adult films are a bad influence for its citizens. As a result, the Russian government media watchdog Roskomnadzor has blocked access to popular adult content producer Brazzers. According to a report published in The Moscow Time, the media watchdog has banned the website after a Russian court had said that the Brazzers adult video films have a “deeply negative influence on the human psyche.” The ban comes as a result of a decision by the Bolsheglushitsky District Court in the Samara region dating back to October 2016.While hearing a petition against the adult content provider, the District Court had ruled that Brazzers’ content also “violated citizens’ rights,” according to local outlet TJ Journal. Russian citizens account for a tiny four-percent fraction of Brazzers’ overall traffic but Brazzers says that the figure is growing in double digits.

Source: Russia bans adult website Brazzers for ‘damaging the human psyche’ » TechWorm

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Thousands of College Kids Are Powering a Clickbait Empire

Inthe spring of 2015, the internet briefly became obsessed with the virility of the “dadbod.” For a moment, the merits of the pudgy-middled male physique seemed to outweigh a six pack or chiseled biceps. That year, the Collins English Dictionary added the term “dadbod” to its list of new words. “Hail to the average man,” the fad seemed to suggest. Like all short-lived, much-loved internet phenomenon, the dadbod had to start somewhere, and in this case, it started as a story published by a 19-year-old college student, posted to an online platform called Odyssey.

Odyssey began as a 16-page tabloid-sized weekly, distributed at fraternities and sororities—first at Indiana State University, then at a handful of Greek houses across college campuses. It was first conceived in 2010 by Evan Burns and Adrian France—then Indiana State seniors—as a newspaper covering Greek life. By 2014, Burns was at the helm as CEO and Odyssey’s ambitions had shifted: It was now a sprawling online repository of writing.

Source: Thousands of College Kids Are Powering a Clickbait Empire

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Biggest Kodi sweep: Brit cops nab five, bag some dodgy sticks • The Register

UK copyright cops made their biggest sweep yet in the crackdown on preloaded Kodi TV streaming kit.Five people were arrested today in Rhyl in Wales, and Bootle, Bolton, Manchester and Cheadle in England. Police did not release names. The five were quizzed by investigators and have all been released on bail. It is believed the suspects banked around £250,000 from selling Kodi streaming gear.During the raids, “fully loaded illegal TV set top devices”, a term that covers both USB sticks and set top boxes, were seized. The Federation for Copyright Theft was joined by the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), the IPO and regional police in the raids.Earlier today, we described the background to the “Kodi crackdown” here. TV sticks preloaded with services that stream subscription TV services such as Sky Movies and BT Sport have become much easier to use. The high price of TV subscriptions, particularly in deprived areas, has seen a rapid growth in their adoption, often by word of mouth.

Source: Biggest Kodi sweep: Brit cops nab five, bag some dodgy sticks • The Register

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Flesh-eating plants thousands of miles apart turned carnivorous in similar ways

HomeViralFlesh-eating plants thousands of miles apart turned carnivorous in similar ways – studyPublished time: 7

A new study examining the evolution of flesh-eating plants has found striking similarities in different species despite the fact that they live continents apart.The species put under the microscope were American, Asian, and Australian pitcher plants, which trap and slowly digest insects and very small animals for sustenance.

The research team of scientists from Japan, China, and the US found that although each of the species developed their appetite for insects independent of each other, all three ended up using remarkably similar methods to feed themselves. The finding, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, suggests that a plant’s evolutionary routes to consuming meat are very limited. READ MORE: Smoke & ministers: Israel moves to allow medical marijuana exports“These plants have a genetic tool kit, and they’re trying to come up with an answer to the problem of how to become carnivorous,” one of the authors, University at Buffalo biologist Victor A. Albert, explained. “And in the end, they all come up with the same solution.”

Source: Flesh-eating plants thousands of miles apart turned carnivorous in similar ways – study — RT Viral

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Stanford students brew 5,000 year old Chinese beer, say it’s fruity and tasty

Can’t spell ‘archaeology’ without ‘alcohol’.

Source: Stanford students brew 5,000 year old Chinese beer, say it’s fruity and tasty

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How 3D Laser Printers Will Change Our Lives Completely

Lately we are seeing an explosion of a real mania for the 3D Laser Printer.People write about them in the newspapers, talk about them on television, organize seminars and exhibitions dedicated to the subject, they publish books and at least on the web are increasing dramatically the resources available.Although it is now after 30 years since their first introduction, the 3D laser printers are still a novelty.How a 3D Laser Printer worksThe 3D laser printers are capable of reproducing a three-dimensional object from a digital file and from any type of material: from plastic to metal, even to human cells. With this background, the use of this type of technology can range from the health sector, to fashion, to the automotive, building, and much more with the possibility of endless applications.

The process is simple: from one electronic drawing file or ‘blueprint’, the 3D Laser Printer transforms the digital information into a physical object staring successive layers of material until the entire object is ready.So far the process seems simple, but the real magic happens when he joins the 3D printer with digital technologies of the Internet of Things. The result is an explosion of technological and social innovation. The advantage of being able to play electronic circuits or recognize materials similar to each other, but with different properties in a short time, greatly speed the implementation times of the objects and give a boost to this sector.

Source: How 3D Laser Printers Will Change Our Lives Completely

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Man Blames Uber for Divorce, Sues for $45M

(NEWSER) – A allegedly cheating husband who got in trouble after using his wife’s iPhone to book an Uber blames the app for the end of his marriage and is suing for $45 million, the Daily Dot reports. The businessman says that after he logged in to his own Uber account on his wife’s phone and then logged out again, a glitch in the app caused her to keep receiving notifications whenever he used the service, arousing her suspicions that he was having an affair and leading her to file for divorce, reports Le Figaro.

Source: Man Blames Uber for Divorce, Sues for $45M

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Vizio smart TVs tracked viewers around the clock without consent 

Vizio, one of the world’s biggest makers of Smart TVs, is paying $2.2 million to settle charges that it collected viewing habits from 11 million devices without the knowledge or consent of the people watching them. According to a complaint filed Monday by the US Federal Trade Commission, Internet-connected TVs from Vizio contained ACR—short for automated content recognition—software. Without asking for permission, the ACR code captured second-by-second information about the video the TVs displayed. The software collected other personal information and transmitted it, along with the viewing data, to servers controlled by the manufacturer. Vizio then sold the data to unnamed third-parties for purposes of audience measurement, analysis, and tracking.”For all of these uses, Defendants provide highly specific, second-by-second information about television viewing,” FTC lawyers wrote in Monday’s complaint. “Each line of a report provides viewing information about a single television. In a securities filing, Vizio states that its data analytics program, for example, ‘provides highly specific viewing behavior data on a massive scale with great accuracy, which can be used to generate intelligent insights for advertisers and media content providers.'”

Source: Vizio smart TVs tracked viewers around the clock without consent | Ars Technica

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Teachers Union Reveals Why Betsy DeVos Was Genius Choice 

The president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) took aim at the Senate’s Tuesday confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary. Laughably, she accidentally made the case for why DeVos was a great choice.“If she wants to work with the educators who work hard every single day—in districts as diverse as McDowell County, W.Va., Detroit, and Scarsdale, N.Y.—to provide children the opportunities they deserve, we renew our invitation to have her visit America’s public schools and see the strategies that work for kids,” Randi Weingarten said in a statement following the vote.“But it’s more likely we’ll now hear the same trashing of public schools that the disrupters, the privatizers and the austerity hawks have used for the last two decades. That makes this a sad day for children.”

Source: Teachers Union Reveals Why Betsy DeVos Was Genius Choice | The Federalist Papers

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Prominent Republicans Pitch Carbon-Tax Plan to Top Trump Aides 

A group of prominent Republicans and business leaders pitched a tax on carbon dioxide to top White House aides Wednesday, selling the plan as an economic win that could drive job growth and yield environmental dividends too.Former Secretary of State James Baker and other members of the new “Climate Leadership Council” pressed the case in a 45-minute meeting in the Roosevelt Room that included President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior aide Kellyanne Conway.”The signs were very encouraging,” Ted Halstead, who founded the council, said after the meeting. “Two weeks into this new administration, we have positioned our solution as the most promising climate solution — if they want to go there.”

Source: Prominent Republicans Pitch Carbon-Tax Plan to Top Trump Aides – Bloomberg

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Web-standards-allergic Apple unveils WebGPU, a web graphics standard 

Apple, which once dismissed cross-platform development for forcing developers to use lowest-common-denominator technology, has proposed a cross-platform JavaScript API for 3D graphics rendered in browsers called WebGPU.The company’s WebKit team, which steers the open source browser layout engine that Apple requires in iOS-compatible web browsers, has issued an API proposal for a potential successor to WebGL.WebGL is the existing standard for drawing 3D graphics on the web. However, Apple’s WebKit team argues that advancements in GPU technology and in platform APIs like Microsoft’s Direct3D, Apple’s Metal, and Khronos Group’s Vulkan offer better performance than WebGL.”The success of the web platform requires defining a common standard that allows for multiple implementations, but here we have several graphics APIs that have nuanced architectural differences,” said Dean Jackson from Apple’s WebKit team in an online post. “In order to expose a modern, low-level technology that can accelerate graphics and computation, we need to design an API that can be implemented on top of many systems, including those mentioned above.”

Source: Web-standards-allergic Apple unveils WebGPU, a web graphics standard • The Register

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Amazon And Google May Face Antitrust Scrutiny Under Trump

Powerful tech platforms have platform privilege — the incentive and ability to prioritize their own products and services over those of competitors. In my last Washington Bytes post, I wrote about Facebook competing against news publishers that depend on its platform to reach customers. In the same way, Amazon competes against merchants and Google competes against websites that depend on them.Because platform privilege involves leveraging market power to alter the competitive playing field, it can lead to antitrust problems. Google has born the brunt of antitrust enforcers’ ire to date, but is Amazon next?

Source: Amazon And Google May Face Antitrust Scrutiny Under Trump

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YODA, the Bill That Would Let You Own (and Sell) Your Devices, Is Re-Introduced in Congress 

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) just re-introduced their You Own Devices Act (YODA), a bill that aims to help you reclaim some of your ownership rights in the software-enabled devices you buy.We first wrote about YODA when it was originally introduced back in 2014. The bill would go a ways toward curbing abusive End User License Agreements (EULAs) by making sure companies can’t use restrictions on the software within your device to keep you from selling, leasing, or giving away the device when you’re done with it by. The bill would override EULAs that purport to limit your ability to transfer ownership of the device (and its software) and would make sure that whoever ends up with your device has the same access to security and bug fixes that you would have had.Making sure that you can sell and transfer your old devices isn’t just good for you – it’s good for everyone else as well. Resale markets for consumer products help improve access to affordable technology and provide a valuable resource for innovators [PDF].We’re pleased to see some members of Congress tackling this issue, and there’s still a long way to go to make sure that outdated and unconstitutional copyright laws, like Section 1201, don’t keep you from controlling your own media and devices.

Source: YODA, the Bill That Would Let You Own (and Sell) Your Devices, Is Re-Introduced in Congress | Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Tunnels of Oppression Expose ‘Privileged’ Students to ‘Dehumanization’ 

Several schools are hosting “Tunnels of Oppression,” where students experience simulated acts of racism, misogyny, and more so that they can “recognize their own privilege.”Lee University’s Residential Life and Housing and Student Leadership Council will be hosting its fourth annual iteration of the event on Friday, during which participants will go on an interactive tour that exposes them to a different type of oppression in each room, including ”racial, sexual, mental, and societal oppression.”{snip}

A video from the 2010 Tunnel of Oppression at Southern Illinois University, for instance, shows students being subjected to verbal abuse by university employees.“Get the fuck up!” a black male employee is seen shouting at a white female student. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”Later in the video, two actors simulate a struggle between a white man and a police officer. The white man pushes the police officer and yells “fuck you” before he is wrestled to the ground.

Source: Tunnels of Oppression Expose ‘Privileged’ Students to ‘Dehumanization’ – American Renaissance

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Former NSA contractor may have stolen 75% of TAO’s elite hacking tools

On Monday, The Washington Post reported one of the most stunning breaches of security ever. A former NSA contractor, the paper said, stole more than 50 terabytes of highly sensitive data. According to one source, that includes more than 75 percent of the hacking tools belonging to the Tailored Access Operations. TAO is an elite hacking unit that develops and deploys some of the world’s most sophisticated software exploits.

Attorneys representing Harold T. Martin III have previously portrayed the former NSA contractor as a patriot who took NSA materials home so that he could become better at his job. Meanwhile, investigators who have combed through his home in Glen Burnie, Maryland, remain concerned that he passed the weaponized hacking tools to enemies. The theft came to light during the investigation of a series of NSA-developed exploits that were mysteriously published online by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers.Investigators have floated several theories.

One holds that Martin directly provided the tools to the person or group responsible for the leak. An alternate theory is that the leakers obtained the software by hacking Martin. As reported in October, Martin was charged with felony theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. Monday’s Washington Post article says that prosecutors will likely file charges of “violating the Espionage Act by ‘willfully’ retaining information that relates to the national defense, including classified data such as NSA hacking tools and operational plans against ‘a known enemy’ of the United States.”

Source: Former NSA contractor may have stolen 75% of TAO’s elite hacking tools | Ars Technica

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Why the Tech Industry Shuns America’s Gun Problem

If we can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do the same thing for our guns?”

President Barack Obama’s question, in a January 5 address on gun violence, echoed the myriad “if we can put a man on the moon”-style complaints we’re all familiar with — the ones that have bemoaned our failure to solve various stubborn social problems ever since Neil Armstrong’s foot touched the lunar dust.In this case: If we can put a computer in everyone’s pocket, why can’t we do something about the 300,000 gun deaths in the U.S. over the last decade, or figure out how to make the 300 million guns at large in the country a little bit safer?

Obama’s query was also a nod to the tiny cadre of entrepreneurs and inventors who are developing “smart guns” — guns engineered to be less likely to cause unintentional or undesirable harm. Smart gun proponents aim to call a technological truce in the United States’ perennially overheated gun debate and apply some good old basement-inventor know-how to the issue.

Source: Why the Tech Industry Shuns America’s Gun Problem

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