US Cop Creates Gadget to Snoop out Stolen Gadgets

When we hear the phrase “US cop”, most of us probably think of a big guy hanging out in his police cruiser while stuffing his face with donuts and reading a boulevard magazine; we can thank Hollywood for that image. It is probably true that there are some of those too, but there are also some really bright people in the force.

An Iowa City police officer named David Schwindt has now invented a little USB gadget that can detect stolen gadgets by their Wi-Fi signals MAC address. The whole thing is rather simple and that is probably the beauty here. By using basic methods of publicly available data and comparing it with a database of stolen items, he’s able to not only detect that they are in range, but also in what direction they are located.

Officer Schwindt rigged a USB thumb drive with an antenna and cooked up his own software for it. Once connected to his squad car’s laptop, it is able to sniff out media access control addresses (MAC) within range and compare them to a database of stolen items.

MAC addresses are often called a burned-in address (BIA), an ethernet hardware address (EHA), or simply a “physical” address, because they are literally assigned (by the IEEE) and stamped into your network card by the company that manufactured your hardware.

Now, we all know that MAC addresses can be spoofed and often are for legitimate purposes as well as illegal. However, most people don’t think of that on their mobile gadgets as much as they do on PCs, and the L8NT gadget, as the author dubbed it, will most likely be highly effective.

The device has a range of 300 feet and a directional antenna can be attached to pinpoint specific devices located. The tool won’t be used to find the occasional stolen iPod or laptop and it won’t give the police access to personal or private information such as many other surveillance tools. It is more designed to find devices from larger series of break-ins and more bring down organized criminals that work in this field.

There will no doubt be cases where the officer’s L8NT system won’t work, but David Schwindt still has big plans for his device. It was developed as a proof of concept and he already got a provisional patent on the device and he is planning to apply for a full patent shortly.

Thank You Naked Security for providing us with this information

Lenovo Caught Installing Dangerous Adware on New PCs

Lenovo has been caught installing adware on new PCs. The software is called Superfish and on the face of it, the software appears to be your standard annoying adware with third-party ads plastered on various websites. It also has those terrible popup ads. However, some have suggested that this software may well be more dangerous than annoying.

Superfish essentially throws out ads on pages like Google that appear to match your search results. It seemingly does such a thing in Chome and Internet Explorer. It also provides annoying popups – something very common with adware. The thing is, Superfish is currently being disabled on new Lenovo machines after many users complained of such annoying popups. Now you’d think that’s a good thing, and that this story is now pointless as a result; well that certainly isn’t the case.

Lenovo community administrator, Mark Hopkins, said that the company would be temporarily removing the software on new systems due to these complaints. Shockingly, he said that the popups were “issues” that needed a “fix”, defending the software as useful in that it “instantly analyzes images on the web and presents identical and similar product offers that may have lower prices.”

It doesn’t stop there. There are now reports that Superfish is dangerous as well as annoying. It appears that the software is implementing a man-in-the middle attack by using a self-signed certificate authority, which allows it to decrypt secure connections, such as those to your bank account or when you’re making a purchase.

If all of this is true, it’s terrible for Lenovo, a trusted PC manufacturer, to be doing this to users’ computer new out of the box. Let’s hope Lenovo has something to say about it.

Source: The Next Web

Gartner Believes PC Industry Will Receive Brief Reprieve in 2014

Shipment of PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones will grow 4.2 percent from 2013, reaching 2.4 billion units this year, according to research group Gartner.

It’s a welcome sign for PC OEMs, trying desperately to get consumers and businesses to upgrade their computers, which have a longer lifespan.  For those shopping for new PCs, they will find a number of competitively-priced models that should pique their interest, as the devices should last a minimum of five years.

Even though the PC business is expected to do better than previously, tablets should still outsell PCs in 2015, researchers note.

Here is what Ranjit Atwal, Gartner Research Director, said in a recent statement:

”2014 will be marked by a relative revival of the global PC market.  Business upgrades from Windows XP and the general business replacement cycle will lessen the downward trend, especially in western Europe.  This year, we anticipate nearly 60 million professional PC replacements in mature markets.”

Meanwhile, the tablet market is expected to slow down in 2014 while reaching 256 million units – but is still estimated to reach 320 million units next year, which will be higher than the traditional PC business unit.  However, analysts also believe tablet manufacturers are going to cannibalize their own market, with consumers keeping mobile devices longer – but with growing cost, many owners end up sharing their devices with friends or family.

Thank you to Gartner for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of New Anglia

Leap Motion Added To 11 HP Computers

Leap Motion technology has been announced back in September and the fact that HP will embed it into their laptops. It seems that Leap Motion is finally ready and Hewlett-Packard is embedding its gesture-control technology in 11 new computers.

As a short description for those of you who have missed it, Leap Motion is a tech developed to allow users to control their computers with hand gestures alone, with accuracy down to a hundredth of a millimeter. In September, HP said it was incorporating Leap Motion’s tech into the Envy 17 laptop, making it the first manufacturer to build the system directly into a computer. This time around, however, HP is embedding the system into stand-alone keyboards, as well as into laptops. The Leap Motion system will be included in eight HP desktop all-in-one machines, and three new desktop PCs.

Officials from the Leap Motion HQ based in San Francisco said integration with computers like those from HP is just the beginning.

“In the future, motion control will become a part of everyday life,” the company said in its blog post, “with motion-control technology embedded in a wide variety of devices — including tablets, smartphones, interactive kiosks, and head-mounted displays.”

Details on when such integrations would take place or which partners it will work with to bring them to reality however have not been discussed.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of HP

American FAA Approves Use Of Smartphones/Tablets During Takeoff And Landing

Up until now if you were using a tablet, smartphone, notebook/laptop or any other electrical device during the takeoff or landing procedure on a flight then you’d of been asked to turn those electrical devices off – irrespective of what you’re doing on them. For many years this has long been the standard procedure for the airline industry. That’s all about to change though after the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ruled otherwise, reports Engadget. a 28 member committee decided that flyers should be able to use “most” devices during takeoff and landing on the condition that most connectivity is not engaged – e.g. you should not be streaming data and you should not be engaged in voice calls. The FAA recommends that flyers should be able to continue to work away on documents, listen to music or watch videos (providing these are all done from local storage – no streaming).

Amazon was part of the 28 member committee in the FAA which developed this new ruling and they stated that:

“We’ve been fighting for our customers on this issue for years – testing an airplane packed full of Kindles, working with the FAA, and serving as the device manufacturer on this committee…This is a big win for customers and, frankly, it’s about time” Said Amazon’s Drew Herdener.

If the FAA decides to continue with the recommendations it is anticipated changes could come into effect by early 2014, though the airline industry is expected to be slower to adopt the new standards. Indeed the ruling does not necessarily mean anything will change either as the FAA can ignore the recommendations generated by the 28 member committee.

Image courtesy of Engadget

Enermax DreamBass Genie Review

Enermax are a brand that through some way or another, you have most likely come across at some point in your life. Generally this would be the census if you have used one of their amazing world-renowned power supplies or one of their silent and bright coloured LED fans, or even as of late; a powerful CPU cooler or chassis which is a slightly new venture for them, and from what we’ve seen, a very successful one thus far.

With these product launches into different markets working for them, they are not stopping at just releasing products to these ranges, as they have delved straight into another market area, with PC audio, but not in terms of sound cards as you’d expect, but with more of an add-on style device to amplify your sound and give extra clarity from your audio that is already configured.

Now a device such as this, should not just be aimed at the desktop user with a fixed machine location, but instead appealing to the mass market of desktop users and those that are on the go with netbooks and notebooks, and that’s exactly who the DreamBass from Enermax is aimed at with its USB connectivity and striking design, so lets get straight into it to see if Enermax can make another successful merge into a very large, yet still niche market of audio products or if it will just be a gimmick that we’ve seen other brands try before.

Specifications