Congressman Wants Longstanding Mobile Security Flaw Investigated

When it comes to our technology, we like to think there might be a hint of privacy in their use. Signaling System 7 is a set of protocols used to help route data, messages, and even phone calls through mobile networks but the problem is that such a widely used system is actually flawed. This flaw led to Ted Lieu, a congressman for  the state of California, calling for an investigation into the longstanding mobile security flaw after it was demonstrated to him by a group of hackers based in Germany.

The mobile security flaw was demonstrated on 60 minutes by german security researcher Karsten Nohl, with it initially being revealed all the way back in 2014. Nohl managed to use the exploit after knowing nothing more than just the congressman’s phone number. With just their number Nohl stated that they could track people’s locations, read their texts and even what was said in their phone calls.

Lieu is coming hard at those who might have known about this issue, saying that any government employee that knew about the SS7 problem should be fired because “this affects so much of daily life to your personal phone”. With everyone using their mobile phones people don’t protect them, often being lulled into a false sense of security and risking their personal lives and data on a daily basis.

Short URL Addresses May Be Creating Easy Paths To Spy On Your Data

We’ve all seen those huge URL’s, be it for a website or a document you have saved in the cloud, they just seem to go on and on with no sign of ever stopping. Then you spot the tiny URL they offer you instead, short and sweet with only a few letters and numbers to copy and paste before you can open your document anywhere you want. Why not use it? well for starters that small URL may be creating just as easy a path to spy on your data!

Research conducted by Martin Georgiev and Vitaly Shmatikov suggest that looking at the abbreviated “short URL’s” used by companies such as Google, Microsoft, and even bit.ly, a company dedicated to creating and sharing short URL addresses, revealed that using a simple trial and error method they were able to gain access to your cloud storage files.

In particular, Georgiev and Shmatikov were able to find and access files shared through Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive with short URLs. If this wasn’t scary enough, someone could place malicious code in the files that had write permissions enabled, allowing them to infect and spread their effect all through one of your files stored in the cloud. Estimating that around 7 percent of the accounts on OneDrive and Google Drive they scanned were vulnerable to this flaw, it’s scary, to say the least.

More worrying may be companies differing responses to be being alerted about this result, with Google doubling the character length of their short URLs, while Microsoft stated that the vulnerability “does not currently warrant an MRSC case”, while quietly removing the short link function on OneDrive so not to expose others to the problem while they no doubt investigate.

Apple & FBI Heading Back to Congress to Debate Encryption

When Apple and the FBI first appeared in front of congress the debate was if Apple could be ordered to unlock an iPhone, and if so should they then create a method where they could easily access future devices for law enforcement? While the case revolving around the San Bernardino phone is over, with the FBI gaining access with help from an external group, the debate is still far from over with both the FBI and Apple looking to appear before a congressional committee to debate encryption yet again.

The debate over encryption will see several people join the committee as witnesses, including Bruce Sewell (General Counsel, Apple Inc), Amy Hess (Executive Assistance Directory for Science and Technology, FBI) and Amit Yoran (President, RSA Security). Other witnesses include Ron Hickman representing the National Sheriffs Association and two police officers, Captain Charles Cohen and Chief Thomas Galati (Indiana state police and New York City Police respectively). With two university representatives Daniel Weitzner (MIT) and Matthew Blaze (University of Pennsylvania) appearing as well, it would appear that congress want to hear the debate from research, implementation and law enforcements points of views in an attempt to fully understand the debate that is raging on in countries all over the world about privacy vs protection.

With countries all over looking to this court case as an example of how technology has advanced while the law remains unclear, the congressional hearing could have a big impact on companies throughout America. The hearing will take place on April 19th and will be streamed on their site for ease of access.

Wireless Passwords Could Be a Thing of the Past Thanks to MIT Research

 

A new wireless technology in development by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab could allow us to finally say goodbye to the Wi-Fi password.

The technology, currently named Chronos, is capable of allowing a single wireless access point to detect the location of networked users to tens of centimetres in accuracy. This immediately has a number of possible applications, one of which could allow wi-fi networks to be limited in access to only those within the building, as well as smart home applications such as tracking people’s movement and adjusting temperature and lighting as they move.

Chronos works by computing the “time of flight” of a wireless signal with an average error of just 0.47 nanoseconds according to MIT, which when multiplied by the speed of light allows Chronos to accurately detect not only the angle from the access point a user is at, but also their distance from it. Comparatively, existing wi-fi devices lack the bandwidth to accurately measure the time of flight of a signal, so in order to detect the locations of users, multiple access points were required for triangulation.

It was discovered after MIT Ph.D. student Deepak Vasisht observed that the signals travel through the air at a different frequency than within a Wi-Fi device that is being detected. He and his team were then able to exploit this difference in signals, testing their new algorithm in a two-bedroom apartment containing four people, where Chronos could accurately detect the room a user was in 94% of the time. When tested in a cafe, the detection rate of in-store customers compared to out-of-store hijackers was 97% accurate, which could allow wireless passwords to be rendered redundant in such cases, as only those in the store can connect to the network.

Whether this will truly be the end of the wireless password is unlikely, as there will always be a call for a higher level of security on many networks. For lightly restricted public networks, though, this technology could be a godsend, without requiring businesses set up a complex multi-access-point solution. A paper summarizing the study of the technology was presented last month by Vasisht at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation.

FBI Reveals Reason for Asking Apple to Unlock Their iPhones

In the recent case of Apple vs the FBI, the FBI requested Apple’s assistance in unlocking an iPhone, a request that caused legal worries and issues for a number of technology companies. We may finally know the reason for why the FBI pushing so hard on Apple to unlock their iPhones.

In an email, it was revealed that the reason Apple needed to help the FBI was a little more personal than some might expect. The email reveals that James Comey, Director of the FBI , likes iPhones and is actually quite a big fan of Apple altogether, or, at least, was until he forgot his passcode.

After forgetting his passcode, Comey tried to recover access to his device by resetting the passcode and once that failed, by using his password to attempt to gain access. When all this failed, Comey had no option but to reach out for help to gain access to his phone.

With Apple refusing to unlock his iPhone the FBI were forced to use alternative means to gain access to the device, which turns out to be as simple as removing the battery and forcing a hard reset. Apple has since revealed that it fixed the problem in subsequent versions of the iPhone, but in a generation of secure devices being able to reset passwords by forcing a hard reset worrying, simply turning it off and back on again seems a little low-tech solution to a problem.

For more information you can read the full email here.

Radio Attack Lets Hackers Drive Away Your Car

When it was revealed I couldn’t believe my eyes. Someone walks up to a car and its locked, someone else walks up and can instantly get in and at the press of a button start the engine, no key required. Wireless key technology is now employed in cars all over the world and allows for users to avoid the hassle of finding their car keys, sadly it looks like a radio attack lets hackers do exactly the same thing without you even knowing.

A group of german vehicle security experts have studied how the radio hack uses your keys to break into your own key. The whole principle of wireless keys is that the engine and the doors will only work when the keys are within a certain range of the vehicle, this means that if you aren’t near your car it’s just an expensive piece of metal and technology.

Munich-based automobile club, ADAC, tested a hacking technique that uses the principle of “amplification” to fool your car into believing that the keys are actually closer than they actually are. In total, their study found 24 different vehicles were vulnerable, and it wasn’t just one manufacturer that was involved, 19 different manufacturers were vulnerable to the radio attack. What does this mean? Using this kind of attack someone can walk up to your car, and using a small pocket amplification device, unlock and drive away your car. No alarms,

What does this mean? Using this kind of attack someone can walk up to your car, and using a small pocket amplification device, unlock and drive away your car. The total cost of this hack? $225 for the device. Compare that to the cost of the Audi A3, A4 and A6, Ford Galaxy, Mitsubishi Outlander, Renaults Traffic and countless other models that are vulnerable to this attack.

The technique works by “amplifying” your keys signal. In reality, what happens is the key fobs signal is relayed through a pair of radios. Is this an example of technology being made too smart, at the cost of security, in order to save us a few seconds of inconvenience?

Denver Police Caught Using Database For Personal Gain

In this day and age, we like to think that our information is well protected. We know that isn’t always true though with companies like TalkTalk and even children’s toy company VTech having their data exposed in hacks. So what about the people who have access to our information? Well, it would seem that Denver police could be in trouble after it was revealed that some of their officers have used their access to information for personal gain.

The report outlining this was created by independent monitor Nicholas Mitchell and lists not just one but multiple “wrongful searches” where an officer used their access to find out information beyond work needs. An example of this was when a female hospital employee spoke with an officer, only to return home and find a message on her personal phone. To make matters worse she had never given her contact details to the officer, who it turns out, used their access to the database to find out her contact details.

In another example, an officer received a call from a woman who was in a custody dispute with her boyfriend over their teenage daughter. The women learned that her ex and their daughter had been given a lift by another individual and asked an officer to run the licence plate of the individual, even providing the women with information from the search. The women in question than rang the individual and revealed that she had personal information, including his home address.

What is the worst part about all of these situations? It would appear that the officers in question were never truly punished, with the most someone suffered because of this was a few days suspension without pay. The misuse of government property and information, and, in fact, breaching people’s data privacy and security, is by all means criminal in nature and goes to show that sometimes when people are afraid of who has access to their data, they have more than a right to be worried.

Microsoft Estimate Around 8000 Companies Looking To Try SQL Servers On Linux

Microsoft recently announced their interest in providing their SQL server software for Linux operating systems. It would seem the news has been well received, with over 8000 companies looking to try SQL servers on Linux.

Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Cloud and Enterprise, stated that by his estimates around 8000 companies were already signed up to try SQL Server 2016 on Linux, with at least 25% of that being fortune 500 companies.

Given that companies like Amazon and Oracle offer similar services, the fact that so many are interested in what Microsoft could provide shows the reputation their software has for businesses. With the move showing that Microsoft is serious not only about the open source community that is commonly found using Linux but also offering alternatives to the cloud for companies to use.

While the cloud offers scalable solutions and choices for companies all over the world, many companies are hesitant to take it on board due to the fact that they lose control over its security and access. Being able to run SQL servers on Linux, using Microsoft’s software would help businesses keep their servers in-house, offering that little bit of choice that companies are often forced to forgo in exchange for cheaper rates.

Iris Scanners Allow Access to Bank Accounts Without Pin or Card

We all hear about how we need to keep our accounts safe, but who remembers all their passwords to all their different accounts? Who can say that they haven’t used the same password for several websites before? Even with password managers apparently making passwords redundant according to GCHQ, we still use them for everything from logging into your phone to filing your bank returns. So what about when it comes to your money? A four digit pin? Why not use an iris scanner to access your bank account.

Jordan is the first country to deploy iris scanning technology, with help from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), to help users access their bank accounts, with the system being used to help refugees access their bank accounts without a bank card or pin. With around 23,000 families using the system to receive aid, the system is working well.

By removing the need for a person to check details before handing out the cash the UNHCR feels like this is a step in the right direction, giving both the refugees and the UNHCR a feeling of control and freedom. With the hopes that the system could be deployed to all of UNHCR’s current cash assistance programmes, you have to wonder how long before typing in a password becomes a thing you’ll tell your grandchildren about.

Jeff Kaplan Would Do the Overwatch Beta Differently Next Time

People love their betas these days, with the ability to quickly roll out a game through the internet companies have been able to test their games across the board with people developing everything from large-scale MMO projects to your favourite racing game with a test run before its release. The problem is that with that new approach to beta’s, opinions have changed about what this means, something Overwatch’s game director Jeff Kaplan has now experienced first hand.

In the interview, Kaplan reminded us that the last time he had a game go into a public beta was the Wrath of the Lich King, the popular expansion for World of Warcraft, all the way back in 2008. Kaplan states that “I think what’s happened over the past decade is that the word beta has really changed what it means. Betas are now free public demos of nearly complete products”, something which is hard to disagree with. When you get released a beta, you expect that the game has some nice features and plays smoothly, with the next step being a full commercial release.

These comments come after people claim that the Overwatch beta was little more than a “marketing beta” with only streamers and the press granted access in order to sell the game. Kaplan’s response to these comments is that with hindsight, he would have just made to the current release an Alpha and then put it all under an NDA.

While these comments probably come from fans who weren’t given access, the feedback has been rather vocal regarding the Overwatch access, which could be in part due to the timeline fans are having to wait before they can play the game. With the closed beta starting in October 2015, and the announcement trailer first showing us the world of Overwatch back in November 2014, the game has had a long wait.

Apple Would Have Given Government Data But Someone Changed The Passcode

It seems like every time I look at the news another company has put in their chips on the Apple vs FBI discussion. From being told to allow the FBI access, to finding a way to give them access, Apple made it clear that they want to avoid removing protection on a phone as it could set a “dangerous precedent” for the industry. Even the White house has stepped forward to try to clarify that it didn’t want a “backdoor”, but Apple wants to help the government without risking their iPhones. That help may have come a little too late, though.

The Department of Justice filed a motion stating that Apple has to comply with the FBI’s request to access the phone, even if that means bypassing the phone’s passcode. The problem being is that Apple offered them an alternative, that they now can’t make use of. Apple offered suggestions including triggering an automatic backup by plugging the phone in and connecting to known wifi, meaning it would then back up to the iCloud, a place where Apple can provide them with the data they are so keen to gain access to.

When the government stated that the automatic backups weren’t working, it was discovered, as listed in the motion, that a county employee in San Bernardino changed the ID passcode online after the shooting incident. San Bernardino county are the owners of the iPhone in question, having given it to Farook as one of their employees. The problem being that the reset occurred hours after the attack Farook was responsible for, raising the question of whom reset the passcode.

With Apple looking to help the government they are definitely appearing as the good guys, and with the news that the Government is already looking at ways to bypass encryption the fact that they are requesting the modification of the iOS to gain access seems to ring more than a few warning bells for companies and users alike.

Air Force Cyberspace System is Fully Operational

I know it sounds like it comes straight out of a movie but I promise this is all really happening. Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) is a part of the United States Air Force, focused mostly on supporting worldwide operations through digital means such as satellites or cyber tools. As with every part of the government and even business, any system connected to another proves a risk. One of the first ways you can limit that risk though is to limit the number of points you can access the system through. Something that the Cyberspace System can now do thanks to its fully operational status.

Fully operation status (or FOC) means that the new system is online and ready to control traffic between and in bases while also looking at the communications coming into the Air Forces operations. Previously the Air force had over 100+ regionally managed entry points to the network, imagine tracking down all those different access points if there was a problem! The new system means there are only 16, offering a much smoother and controlled entrance into their systems, effectively creating a solid wall to help reduce risks to their network and operations.

While impressed, Brigadier General Stephen Whiting, the Director stated, “This is a great achievement for the Air Force and the first cyberspace weapon system to achieve FOC.  We look forward to continued rapid progress and maturation of the Air Force Cyberspace mission. As we all know, our mission is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace”

So next time you see that movie and they are tapping away at the keys pinging nodes from all over the world to try to find a way into your system, you can be safe that the people using those systems know what their doing and are watching out for those who might misuse them!

No Encryption-Backdoor For Obama Administration

More and more we are being informed about digital security issues that affect us. From leaders like David Cameron stating he would remove encryption within the UK and even the head of MI5 joining Camerons crusade to remove end-to-end encryption within the UK. Recently we even learnt (courtesy of Edward Snowden yet again) that Microsoft may have even actively helped governments bypass encryption. With all this scary news, it’s about time we had some positive news regarding encryption right? Que FBI director James Comey.

At a congressional panel, James Comey stepped forward and stated that the Obama administration would not ask congress for legislation requiring a backdoor into encryption protected systems. Starting from the beginning, what is an ‘encryption backdoor’?.

Earlier this year it was suggested by several government officials and even company leaders, that in order to avoid practices such as illegally intercepting and gaining access to systems to read your private and confidential details they could instead be given a key. This would give them legal access to the systems, and discussions about this led to the idea of a split key. A key where no one company or government agency would have access to the whole key, therefore requiring the permissions of all the government groups in order to use it.

This is the first time a public spokesmen has come out with any official line going against the idea of encryption backdoors. The question now is will companies and agencies stop asking for them?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Conference Cancelled After Pressure From IP Camera Makers

Security is a tricky subject. In recent years both digital and physical security has been scrutinised and exposed for some rather crucial weaknesses. Back in May it was claimed that a security researcher was able to remotely issue commands to a plane’s engines, more recently it was revealed that some car companies had silenced an investigation that had found a vulnerability in the way their key fobs communicated with their immobilizer system. Now it’s the turn of internet-enabled cameras to come under fire.

Gianna Gnesa is a security consultant with Ptrace Security, a company based in Switzerland. He was set to speak at the Hack in the Box GSEC Conference that was to be hosted in Singapore. He has since decided to cancel his presentation.

The presentation was set to reveal the breaches in security systems that utilize internet connected video games (IP cameras). Gnesa has since cancelled his presentation after “legal pressure from manufacturers affected”.  In the talk, Gnesa was set to “expose vulnerabilities found on major surveillance cameras and show how an attacker could use them to stay undetected”.

Traditionally security consultants work on a “responsible disclosure” policy, in which they only release date about defects or issues with security once the manufacturers or developers have had time to develop and release patches to fix these issues.

Thank you PC World and GSEC for the information.

Image courtesy of PC World.

LEGO Game Released as a Direct Competitor to Minecraft

LEGO is the stuff of dreams and nightmares all rolled into one. On the one hand, it is amazingly satisfying to build an amazing creation out of just a pile of blocks; on the other hand, stepping on that missing 1×1 block hurts a lot.

Well, now LEGO has released a new open-world, sandbox game called LEGO worlds. This will be a rich massive landscape made out of, you guessed it, LEGO. This is set to be an almost direct competitor to Minecraft. The game will offer what we have come to expect from LEGO, both on and off-screen. You can just roam the landscape or change it yourself in the editor. There will be a range of real-world sets available to the player; most will likely be free, but expect some in-game purchases.

You can currently purchase the game through Steam Early Access program for $17. I recently purchased Minecraft to see what all the fuss is about and now I think I will be buying this….for work. Could this be a new method to sell more LEGO sets? Maybe the creators could track creations and create actual sets based off downloads? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Thank you engadget for providing us with this information.

New Pew Survey Shows Only 7% of Americans Depend on Their Phone for Internet Access

Pew Research Center conducted a survey and estimates that only 7% of Americans depend solely on their mobile device for internet service while having no viable alternatives. Additionally, almost 10% have a smartphone with no home broadband connection, and 15% have a very limited number of options beyond their smartphones.

A lot of this is because of economic necessity as about 13% of Americans making less than $30,000 per year rely almost exclusively on their smartphones. In contrast, only 1% of people making $75,000 or more do the same.  The odds of these groups hitting their data cap is also very different. Users in the lower salary bracket are at 51% and the higher salary cap are at 35%. Also noted is that the users in the lower bracket are twice as likely to cancel or freeze service due to a budget problems , being 48% to 21%.

Source: Engadget

The U.S. Can Still Legally Access Your Old Emails

Microsoft is in an ongoing battle with the U.S. government about handing over emails and they refuse to give up. The case contains two issues, emails stored abroad and old emails. What many people don’t know is that it was written in the Electronics Communication Privacy Act back in 1986 that the American government technically has legal access to everyone’s emails as long as they might be useful for an investigation and are more than 180 days old.

This is a blatant disregard for non-digital laws, as they don’t have the right to enter your home and read through your old letters. A lot has changed since the mid 80’s and back then digital files weren’t stored the same way as today. Back then information was downloaded and stored locally, today information is everywhere with internet and cloud services.

The laws need to be reexamined, but the U.S. government wants to keep them just they way they are. They recently responded to Microsoft’s assertion with this: “Because the emails sought in this investigation are now more than 180 days old, the plain language of the [Stored Communications Act of the ECPA] would authorize the government to use a subpoena to compel disclosure of everything it sought pursuant to the Warrant.”

The Department of Justice has long argued that citizens don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to their old emails and the issue potentially affects anyone who has ever used email.

Thanks to Mashable for providing us with this information

Virgin Joining Race To Accessible Internet With “Most Satellites Ever”

Virgin is joining the race to provide internet access everywhere by “creating the world’s largest satellite constellation”. Joining the ranks of Facebook with its internet.org and Google with its Project Loon, Virgin aims to provide high speed internet to “billions”.

Virgin founder Richard Branson said in a blog post that the company will be utilising “Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne programme” to make satellite launches cheaper and easier than ever.

“Delighted to share news of an incredibly exciting project that could transform the world: we are creating a new constellation of satellites to make high speed internet and telephony available to billions of people who don’t currently have access.” 

Together with Qualcomm, Virgin has formed OneWeb Ltd, a company that will utilise the technology and infrastructure built for Virgin Galactic to get so many satellites into space. They say that the initiative will eventually provide internet access to three billion people who could not access it before.

This project is one of a number of global internet initiatives, like Facebook’s internet.org mobile internet project and Google’s Project Loon, which aims to provide remote internet access via giant weather balloons. Microsoft also pitched in recently with its plan to use TV spectrum in India.

Source: Virgin 

‘This Is Net Neutrality’ Coalition Fights for Global Internet Rights

In the wake of US President Barack Obama supporting a free and open internet, ISPs threatening to sue over potential restrictive legislation, and the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) stuck in the middle, trying to keep both sides happy, a coalition of diverse groups from all over the world, including Greenpeace, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Digitale Gesellschaft, has formed to voice its support for net neutrality, on a global scale. The coalition is called This is Net Neutrality, and they issued the following statement, in eleven different languages, on their website on Thursday:

“The open Internet has fostered unprecedented creativity, innovation and access to knowledge and to other kinds of social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities across the globe.

Today, this open Internet is endangered by powerful service providers seeking to become gatekeepers who decide how users can access parts of the Internet. We don’t want to prevent these companies from using reasonable and necessary methods to manage their networks, but these acts cannot be a pretext to eliminate openness nor to police content.

The fundamental openness of this crucial technology must be preserved, and to this end we offer the resources on this site for activists, academics, policy makers and technologists who share our vision.”

The group also outlined their definition of ‘net neutrality’, which informs their use of the word throughout their campaign:

“Net neutrality requires that the Internet be maintained as an open platform, on which network providers treat all content, applications and services equally, without discrimination.”

Deji Olukotun, Senior Advocacy Manager at Access, one of the members of This is Net Neutrailty, summed up the coalition’s all-encompassing view of the issue: “Net neutrality is not an American issue, or a European issue, or an African issue. It is increasingly a global human rights issue.”

Source: Common Dreams

Microsoft Targets TV Spectrum to Bring Internet Access Across India

Google’s working on Wi-Fi balloons with Project Loon, Facebook has it’s internet.org project in Africa and now it appears that Microsoft is pitching into the efforts to help bring people in impoverished nations online.

The company has announced plans to use India’s unused TV spectrum for internet access. They plan to use the unused ‘white space’ that exists between analogue TV channels to bring internet access across the country.

Microsoft India chairman Bhaskar Pramanik said to the Hindustan Times, “Wi-Fi has a range of only about 100 metres, whereas the 200-300 MHz spectrum band available in the white space can reach up to 10 km. This spectrum belongs mainly to Doordarshan (Indian public broadcaster) and the government and is not used at all. We have sought clearance for a pilot project in two districts.”

If the ambitious project goes ahead, the plans could help bring greater internet access to a country largely disconnected from the digital world.

Source: TheNextWeb

Original RickRoll Video Blocked by YouTube

It appears that the popular video-sharing website, YouTube, has blocked access to a seven years old RickRoll video, preventing users from hearing the still-popular “Never Gonna Give You Up” line. The video itself was uploaded by user ‘cotter548’ and was simply titled “RickRoll’D” and had nearly 71 million views, having YouTube blocking it in several countries, including the US.

YouTube did not comment immediately on the reason for blocking the video, which takes us to another similar but brief incident in 2012. Astley himself did not comment on the service’s action as well, but given that he did not write the song himself, he is thought not to have anything to do with the video’s removal. RCA is said to have released the track, which was co-written by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman.

The track itself is said to have spent 23 weeks on the Hot 100 list back in 1987 and 1988, having it be the top song played during that period. The meme entitled ‘Rickrolling’ started to surface ten years later when Internet users started pranking their friends by sending a link of something that looked interesting and relevant, having it open to Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” shimmy.

It then quickly went viral and recipients over the years are stated to have included the Church of Scientology, the MTV Europe Music Awards, the new York Mets, MIT and various radio listeners. It is said that even the White House ‘roll’d’ a bored town hall attendee in 2011, having Astley himself popping out of an obnoxious float to Rickroll the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade in 2008.

Thank you Billboard for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Billboard

T-Mobile Users Now Able to Gain Data Free Access to Music

T-Mobile hit the market hard at Seattle’s Paramount Theater last night, announcing some big offers to end users.

Alongside their ‘free trial’ offer of an iPhone 5s to potential subscribers, T-Mobile have announced that their service will allow free data streaming to all top music streaming services, including:

  • Pandora
  • iTunes Radio
  • iHeartRadio
  • Slacker
  • Spotify
  • Samsung’s Milk service, and
  • Rhapsody

T-Mobile currently offers its consumers 1GB, 3GB or 5GB worth of full speed data allotment – go over this cap and you will be reduced to functioning on 3G speed. But with the announced change coming into effect, you’ll receive full speed unlimited service on these streaming services no matter if you’re over your cap or not.

Some people are claiming this service may be an issue to ‘net neutrality’ as offering this service for only a select few streaming companies helps give them a boost. Rdio is one main contender missing from this list as you may have noticed, but T-Mobile’s John Legere stated that these chosen stream services are not due to a business move or competitive angle. Either way it’s certainly a cop out for the smaller guys and Rdio alike. Legere also went on to state that T-Mobile’s plan is to include all streaming services in the future – whether realistic or not is up to you to decide.

All-in-all we’re sure that consumers are generally quite happy with this news because in our experience, streaming uses a lot of data!

What could this mean for premium streaming subscriptions? Currently in Australia Spotify premium subscriptions are quite popular, due to the ability to download music to your device and that streaming uses quite a high rate of data on our current low caps. Can the same be said for T-Mobile’s current target audience? Or can this be easily written off by Spotify as extra users, extra ad listeners and extra exposure?

Want to see your favourite streaming service added? T-Mobile have claimed they will be opening the next contenders up for customer voting.

Image courtesy of 9to5mac.

LinkedIn Facing Lawsuit over Access of Email Accounts

LinkedIn has been ordered to stand trial by a U.S Federal judge over allegations from users that they have been sending and accessing emails without consent.

LinkedIn has been found to be accessing users email accounts, copying their address books and using this information to solicit business. This is seen as a loophole by some as users do agree upon sign up to allow LinkedIn to use their contacts to send an initial recruitment email – but give no authorization to send further reminder emails.

US district Judge, Lucy Koh (San Jose, California) stated:

“This practice could injure users’ reputations by allowing contacts to think that the users are the types of people who spam their contacts or are unable to take the hint that their contacts do not want to join their LinkedIn network.

“In fact, by stating a mere three screens before the disclosure regarding the first invitation that ‘We will not … email anyone without your permission,’ LinkedIn may have actively led users astray.”

Koh has given customers the green light to pursue their claims that LinkedIn has violated their right of publicity. She has dismissed other claims however, such as violation of federal wiretap laws.

Crystal Braswell declared on behalf of LinkedIn:

“We are pleased that the Court rejected plaintiffs’ unfounded “hacking” claims and found that LinkedIn members consented to sharing their email contacts with LinkedIn. We will continue to contest the remaining claims, as we believe they have no merit.”

View the full information on the class action lawsuit here.

Image courtesy of Ben Scholzen

 

Thecus Introduces Pydio App To Create Personal Cloud Storage

Over the last year or so we’ve been seeing a rapid growth in the popularity of cloud storage and on top of that the introduction of personal cloud solutions such as the EX4 from Western Digital has changed the way that we think about accessing our data on the go. In order to keep up with the demand for personal cloud storage, NAS manufacturer Thecus has announced the introduction of the Pydio open source platform to their App Centre. The Pydio platform is a completely open source platform that is designed for enterprise level storage devices and once installed on a server, it allows users to seamlessly access their data when on the go through a web-based interface or the optional mobile application.

With your data stored and accessed from your own servers, there is the reassurance that your data is not being accessed or monitored by any third parties and this also adds that element of satisfaction that you know you can access it anywhere, any time and with no restrictions at all. Over other cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive, there is also no restrictions on the storage capacity that is provided (the storage capacity of the server naturally is your limit) and there are also no annual or monthly fees to keep paying.

The Pydio platform is free to download from the Thecus App Centre and will work with all recent systems that can access the add-on store. As well as mobile access to your data the add-on will also benefit users by providing alerts, branding and white-labelling of business names, compatibility with various directories, high levels of  security and a wide level of compatibility.

Source: Thecus

Image courtesy of Pydio.

FBI Admits To Accessing Webcams Without Triggering The Notification Light

It has emerged that the FBI has the ability to activate any computer’s in-built camera without triggering the light that lets users know the camera is on. According to the Washington Post, the FBI agency has had the ability to covertly monitor computer’s cameras for years. How safe do you feel when you have a webcam pointed at you every time you use your laptop or smartphone?

Speaking to the newspaper, Marcus Thomas, the former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division confirmed that the agency has the ability to turn on webcams without turning on the notification light. There were speculations and rumors about such actions being used by the FBI or NSA, but apparently it has also been officially confirmed.

However, to calm fears that the Bureau has been spying on civilians via their computers without their knowledge for years, Thomas stressed that the ability has been used “mainly” in counter terrorism or serious criminal activities. The Post report gives an example of the FBI’s use of the technology. It reveals how far the agency is willing to go with its use of malware to spy on people.

It also reveals that FBI agents using the technology are normal people, and how in the past they have accidentally sent emails to people outside of the organisation thanks to typos.

Thank you T3 for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of pcmag

Western Digital My Cloud 2TB Review

Introduction


Over the last few years, the concept of cloud storage has been growing rapidly around the globe. As you may imagine, there are a large number of applications for cloud storage, be it for a small set of personal files that are kept on the likes of Dropbox or Google Drive; to the hosting of entire websites on cloud servers, but there is one area where many users see a flaw in this concept – security. Before I get on to the reason why some people are put off the cloud, its worth noting that it has a huge number of advantages. Firstly, when we start at the smaller scale options and look at the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive, there is the obvious advantage that you can access your files wherever you are with ease. I personally use both Dropbox and Google Drive for on the go storage and with the added factor of being able to access both services from my Nexus 4 smart phone, I’ve not go to worry constantly about having to copy files to a flash drive so that I can access them at home. With the cloud, as soon as I save them in the respective online folders, they are almost instantly available at home.

Looking at more of a larger scale, there is cloud web-hosting. Now obviously the internet is online, but for the most part, the website that you are accessing, such as us at eTeknix for example, is stored on a single server in a single data centre. Whilst there is a certain element of redundancy with the likes of RAID10 drives setups in place and of course backups are taken care of, what happens when the data centres link is lost to the outside world? It’s quite simple, the site goes down. Downtime for us is something that we dread and cloud web-hosting is built to solve this conundrum. With cloud hosting, a website is stored on a number of different servers that are located in different data centres – the result of this is near 100% uptime.

Bringing all this back down to earth and to the home, I will now refer back to the [above mentioned] worry that many people have when it comes to cloud file storage such as Dropbox and Google Drive – Security. When you upload a file to the cloud, how can you be sure that someone else has not had access to your data? After all you are not able to pinpoint exactly where your files are being stored at any given point. This whole worry over security and knowing where your files are being stored is what has driven Western Digital to come up with a simple, affordable solution. Bring forward the My Cloud.

The My Cloud comes with a very concise set of accessories, there is simply a quick setup guide, Ethernet cable and a power adaptor with UK an EU tips – no bits of unnecessary paperwork to be found here.

Tenda W150M Portable Wireless Access Point & Router Review

Introduction


Recently, I’ve had a look at a few portable wireless storage devices, which as a concept are fantastic in my mind and they have taken to the markets like a storm and as a result, everyone wants to hop on the same bandwagon. Whilst these small devices are great for what they do, it goes to show that mobile products that offer the functionality of their static counterparts are a lot more handy than we may think and this leads us to the product that I have to write about today.

When travelling, having a means of connecting to the internet is vital for many people and when In most hotels, the cost of WiFi can be expensive, or where there is a wired connection available, there is only once connection at that. The idea of carrying around a wireless router for some is a good idea, but they are inherently bulky and consequently are not the most convenient of items to carry around.

Tenda are a Shenzhen based company that have been producing networking products since 1999 for the consumer, SOHO and SMB markets and just recently they have been developing a line of portable wireless routers like I have to look at today – ideal for on the go networking. With a single LAN port and powered via USB, the W150M offers up a multitude of wireless routing functions including an access point, bridge, router, WISP amongst others and with a large number of the features that you generally expect to see on a desktop router as well.