Uber Shared Data on 13 Million Users With US Government

The Uber mobile application which allows smart phone users to travel to another location by an accredited driver has revolutionized transport and caused a great deal of anger from taxi drivers. These people feel they can’t earn a living due to the huge taxi license expense and lower fees consumers face when using Uber. Clearly, Uber has modernized the taxi system for the interconnected world and offered consumers an additional choice. Recently, the company publicly released a transparency report which discloses how much information is shared with authorities. The data shows Uber shared information on 13 million users including passengers and drivers with the US government. The majority of these requests stem from U.S. transportation regulators. Once the findings were unveiled, Uber released a statement on their thoughts about data requests which reads:

“Regulators will always need some amount of data to be effective, just like law enforcement. But in many cases they send blanket requests without explaining why the information is needed, or how it will be used,”

“And while this kind of trip data doesn’t include personal information, it can reveal patterns of behavior—and is more than regulators need to do their jobs.”

“We hope our Transparency Report will lead to a public debate about the types and amounts of information regulated services should be required to provide to their regulators, and under what circumstances,”

Rightfully so, Uber believes the huge scale of these requests isn’t right and it does seem like interference from government bodies. Personal information should be protected if you’re using a commercial service. There’s no reason for the government to get involved and it looks like all they want to do is monitor the behaviour of its citizens. Hopefully, transparency reports like this can help raise the issue of privacy and how many requests are made by government authorities.

Microsoft Is Suing The US Government Over Cloud Data Searches

Microsoft is but one of many technology firms that have recently moved their focus from internal hard drives to the cloud, allowing people to access their data from anywhere in the world given the right details. The problem is other people also have access to this information, both legally and illegally and Microsoft is suing the US government over their attempts to force companies to remain quiet on the matter.

Microsoft has now filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department stating that it’s not just wrong but it’s “unconstitutional” that companies should be forced to remain silent when they are asked to hand over any data you might store in the cloud. In their complaint, Microsoft says that section 2705(b) of the Electronics Communications Privacy Act “sweeps too broadly” and effectively gives the government the power to gag companies, regardless of the reasons they are investigating someone. Microsoft even went so far as to name the number of secrecy orders they’d received in the past 18 months, a huge number sitting at almost 2,600.

The best part of almost 2.6 thousand secrecy orders, was that over two-thirds would never run out thanks to them containing “no fixed end date”. The end result is clear, Microsoft wants section 2705(b) ruled as unconstitutional and removed, a judgment that would affect every technology company based on the internet these days thanks to the broad range of uses that the cloud is utilized for.

Recently Reddit removed their Warrant canary, giving users a legal warning that the government had requested access to at least some of their information (possibly). While other companies, such as Apple has been arguing with the FBI over who and where the line should be drawn for gaining access to devices and the steps they can make companies provide to open the door for them.

Executives Feel Like Cyber-Security is Just an IT Problem

Cyber-security is a big issue, with people and companies finding out the hard way that their security is exposed when it turns up online for sale or they receive phone calls advertising features with details they never hand out. With big companies like TalkTalk and even the government being victims of hacks, people are acting more and more with security at their mind front. This may change though soon as a survey of executives found they felt like cyber-security is just an “IT problem”.

The survey questioned 1,530 C-level executives, that is anyone who’s job title contains chief or another word beginning with c in it. This illusion of responsibility, one which often ends up landing with executives, comes as companies spent 25% more on information security in 2015 compared to 2014.

The survey was conducted on companies that were deemed “vulnerable” resulted in 91 percent of the executives saying that they couldn’t interpret a cybersecurity report, with 40 percent of those responding admitting that they didn’t even feel responsible for cyber-security.

These figures are certainly more than a little scary, with company executives feeling like they aren’t responsible on every level for protecting your information or even being aware of the threats and dangers that they encounter. In a day and age where you are more than likely to be attacked via the internet and your computer systems than on a street, it is the responsibility of everyone, especially those in power, to make sure that they uphold their legal responsibilities, even if that comes at a weeks crash course in cyber-security.

To Play With The Oculus Rift You Pay With Your Privacy

We all love the idea of virtual reality and augmented reality, the idea that technology can send us to the deepest parts of the earth or the farthest reaches of space inspires us to enjoy things we will never get to do in the real world, all from the comfort of our sitting rooms. The question is how much we are willing to give in exchange for this “freedom”, with the enjoyment the Oculus Rift requiring you to pay with your privacy.

What do we mean by “pay with your privacy”? When you first install the software required to run the Rift on your PC a process called “OVRServer_x64.exe” is created, something normal given that it detects when the Rift is connected, on your Facebook and actually turned on. If you check the Privacy Policy (something we all know, including the companies that write them, is rarely checked) there are a few other things that the process can do.

The full section regarding “information collected about you when you use our services” states:

Information Automatically Collected About You When You Use Our Services. We also collect information automatically when you use our Services. Depending on how you access and use our Services, we may collect information such as:

  • Information about your interactions with our Services, like information about the games, content, apps or other experiences you interact with, and information collected in or through cookies, local storage, pixels, and similar technologies (additional information about these technologies is available at https://www.oculus.com/en-us/cookies-pixels-and-other-technologies/);
  • Information about how you access our Services, including information about the type of device you’re using (such as a headset, PC, or mobile device), your browser or operating system, your Internet Protocol (“IP”) address, and certain device identifiers that may be unique to your device;
  • Information about the games, content, or other apps installed on your device or provided through our Services, including from third parties;
  • Location information, which can be derived from information such as your device’s IP address. If you’re using a mobile device, we may collect information about the device’s precise location, which is derived from sources such as the device’s GPS signal and information about nearby WiFi networks and cell towers; and
  • Information about your physical movements and dimensions when you use a virtual reality headset.

Worrying parts about this is the mention of “pixels” in the first section, stating that they could find out what you are viewing and even go so far as to take a copy of your interaction. Full information about the games and everything you install are also fair and open to them with information going so far as your physical movements and dimensions being tracked as well, these seem a little bit further than just idle curiosity.

The policy continues to state how this information is used, with one section clarifying their marketing approach with this information:

To market to you. We use the information we collect to send you promotional messages and content and otherwise market to you on and off our Services. We also use this information to measure how users respond to our marketing efforts.

With Oculus now in partnership with Facebook, a move that raised concerns when it was first announced, people were concerned about privacy and tracking, something these conditions seems to allow. Going further the agreement states that “third parties may also collect information about you through the Services”, meaning that the agreement doesn’t limit but, in fact, allows apps to be created on the basis of tracking and monitoring your actions.

Thanks to Woofington over at Reddit who spotted this, if you’re interested in finding out how deep this goes you can read the full privacy policy here.

FBI Doesn’t Want To Tell How It Tracked People Across The Tor Network

The FBI are known for their digital prowess, although they may require some help when it comes to breaking into an iPhone. One of their most recent successes was the tracking of people using the Tor network, but after a judge ruled that the defendants representatives needed to know how he was identified the FBI has declined to say how they tracked people across the Tor network.

The ruling was provided by the Judge overlooking the case and was provided so that the defendants experts could check that the method used to identify the client was both within the FBI’s authority and also properly identified the client amongst the thousands of users of the Tor network.

The Tor network is a system (also known as the Onion Router) which people can use to hide their true identity by encrypting their traffic and bouncing it around the world in a series of steps. The network is also known for hiding a selection of “secret” websites that can only be accessed from within the network.

The FBI claim that they have already provided enough details for the defence to figure out if they went beyond their authority. FBI Agent Daniel Alfin, states in the court papers filed by the DOJ in the case, as saying “knowing how someone unlocked the front door provides no information about what that person did after entering the house”. While a valid argument, one would also argue that if someone breaks into your house, stealing something from your house and gaining access were both things you need to be made aware, not just one of the two.

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.

Website Hopes To Explain Dyslexia

Technology can do wonderful things. From giving someone the ability to walk to letting you read news from anywhere in the world on a device as small as your palm. In the latest move to use technology to help people, a website looks to help explain Dyslexia to people who don’t quite understand how the illness works.

Someone looks to help others understand how people with Dyslexia see writing and have done so through a website which actually contains the first paragraph from Wikipedia describing the condition. You can find the original text here but if you are interested in seeing how Dyslexia affects people you may be more interested in this site.

The text appears to scramble itself, replacing one character with another while others move around all over the paragraphs. This is how some people would describe dyslexia, making even the simplest of sentences difficult to understand while large paragraphs become like ancient texts to those affected. As someone who suffers from dyslexia, I can understand what it is getting at. The simplest of texts can become difficult and while others say they “understand” being able to compare the experience to something like what the website shows goes a long way to helping people, both dyslexic and not, understand one another and the difficulties a subtle condition like this can have on everyday life.

Internet Service Providers Can’t Use Targeted Adverts Without Customers Permission

When you go online, you will often find yourself surrounded by targeted adverts that seem to want you browsing every site and buying every product on the planet. More often than not you will find that these products and sites somehow know about what you’ve been looking at. Targeted adverts have long been the pain of many people, with information about you being used in selling you everything under the sun. This may change though with Internet Service Providers being told they can’t target ads without customers permission in recent legislation.

ISP’s are the central point for all your internet traffic, with everything you do online going through their systems. From your location in the world to the very content of your websites (including medical or financial details). While the new legislation, targeted adverts wouldn’t be illegal but instead the data used to create them would be more heavily controlled, not by the companies but by the people the data is about.

AT&T currently do this, offering a $29 discount per month if their customers agree to data collection and targeted ads. With the Federal Communications Commission looking to hear the public’s opinion about being charged for not opting into targeted ads, you may get a little bit of control back over your details.

Data Leak Reveals 22,000 ISIS Members

In history there is a tale as old as time, no matter how large something gets, no matter what happens, when they start to perform questionable acts it will always be someone on the inside that will address the situation by letting everyone know about it. We’ve already seen with Edward Snowden revealing the extent that America was spying and retaining information illegally on people from all over the world. The same reason has now revealed 22,000 ISIS members details.

A defector from the group alleges to have carried with him a USB drive containing more than your average backup of files. TheUSB is claimed to have details of 22, 000 ISIS fighters, including:

  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Hometown
  • Blood Type

The paperwork it apparently contains is reported to be filled out before fighters come to the country, therefore representing foreign fighters coming to the group from abroad. The paperwork included questionnaires filled out by members of ISIS, including information regarding how they were recruited and would get to the group from their location, bypassing the restrictions and warning systems currently in place.

Currently, agencies around the world are trying to track down and confirm that this information is genuine, but if it does prove to be real information then this could help agencies track down recruiters and start cutting off access to the group from their countries.

Baidu Apps Leak Sensitive Information Online

People love their apps, from playing a quick game to doing your shopping while on the move or at work we all have them. Apps are designed to make your life easier, but sometimes things come along that make them more complicated. Apps are just like every other piece of software and with them come security risks, with companies like VTech finding out how bad a hack can be for their reputation and customers. Net giant Baidu has recently found this out as well as  security researchers claim that Baidu Apps leak sensitive information online.

The research conducted by security experts, Citizen Lab, at the University of Toronto state that millions of people could have been affected by everything from their search terms and visited sites to the unique ID numbers of their devices online. The risk comes from a software development kit that people can use to make apps for Android phones and even programs for your windows PC’s. Citizen Lab reported their findings to Baidu back in November and report that some of the bugs have been fixed, with poor encryption still putting people’s data at risk.

With digital security being a big issue these days and large companies being found short on both their knowledge in the area and their responses to threats, Baidu have at least started to fix the problems and Citizen Lab have proven that with a little help we can get somewhere closer to being able to protect our information.

FBI Employees Details Published by Hacker

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are known for being involved in all kinds of work, from exposing corrupt judges to fighting malware. They have also been known to take part in some hacking, from using ethically questionable equipment to zero-day exploits. Imagine the irony then when hackers threatened to release information about twenty thousand FBI employees, only to then carry out that threat and expose the FBI employees details online.

The hackers, who posted from the twitter account @DotGovs, claimed that by hacking the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) database, they were able to obtain the information. This information was released only a day after posting similar information on 10,000 Department of Homeland Security employees.

Listing their names, phone numbers and emails addresses the information, if revealed to be true, could be dangerous to both the government and the employees listed in the data breaches. Peter Carr, speaking on behalf of the Department, told CNN the following.

“The department is looking into the unauthorized access of a system operated by one of its components containing employee contact information. “This unauthorized access is still under investigation; however, there is no indication at this time that there is any breach of sensitive personally identifiable information. The department takes this very seriously and is continuing to deploy protection and defensive measures to safeguard information. Any activity that is determined to be criminal in nature will be referred to law enforcement for investigation.”

Stating that there was no “sensitive personally identifiable information” is one thing but if it reveals names, numbers and emails, that’s personal enough for me. The hackers tweeted saying “When will the US government realize we won’t stop until they cut relations with Israel”. This following on from their initial boast of “FBI and DHS info is dropped and that’s all we came to do, so now its time to go, bye folks! #FreePalestine.”.

If this information is found to be genuine it represents a clear breach of the DOJ’s systems and the employees of several major governmental organisations.

France Gives Facebook Deadline to Act on User Data

Facebook is one of the world’s largest social networks, containing information about people from all over the world from their names and dates of births to pet hobbies and the messages they’ve sent to their friends. with companies raising concerns about the new ‘Snooper charter’ in the UK, data security awareness is at an all-time high with countries looking to protect their users from breaches like that affecting the Juniper’s hardware. In the latest move, the French Data protection authority has given Facebook a deadline on when they need to take action on several areas of data security.

The first issue the French data authority had was with Facebook’s tracking of non-users on its site, without any warning or notice to the user. This means that even if you went and viewed a public profile, it was recorded that you had viewed the account. The second issue is related to transferring information abroad, a political minefield when it comes to data security.

The second issue is related to transferring information abroad, a political minefield when it comes to data security. In the next three months, Facebook is to stop transferring some data to the United States. This move is not a surprise given that the EU and the U.S. are currently negotiating the successor to the transatlantic safe harbour pact, an agreement that created a legal framework for transferring information from the EU to America. The previous agreement was struck down following the fear that the U.S. government could use it to spy on EU countries similar to its mass surveillance program.

Internet Traffic Soon to Reach a Zettabyte

We use the internet every day, from checking your emails to watching the latest shows, the internet has become a default part of using a computer for a lot of people. With more and more using the internet, for even more complex reasons, it comes as no surprise that companies are looking at ways to share content with less traffic, such as Netflix re-encoding their library. Even with all these steps, Cisco imagines that for the first time the global internet traffic will reach a zettabyte.

A zettabyte is 909,494,701 terabytes, or if that’s too small you could always think of it as a trillion gigabytes. This estimate comes after Cisco has calculated that the internet traffic has increased fivefold in the last five years, with it set to continue to grow.

Cisco attributes this increase to the popularity of services like Netflix and Amazon Prime video, with video streaming services accounting for roughly 41% of all internet traffic. With more mobile devices connecting every year and phone companies looking to promote cheaper video streaming for your mobiles, watching videos online contributes more than most people think.

With internet speeds set to rise and video streaming, gaming and music services looking to increase their online presence it will come as no surprise that people will be sending and receiving more information over the internet.

The US And Europe Can’t Agree On Data Sharing

It’s been well-known for a while now that information, online and offline, has always been searched for and monitored. From GCHQ to the NSA, it sometimes seems like the entire alphabet is watching your every move online. With items like the ‘snooper charter’ making changes to digital monitoring, many countries are yet to see eye to eye when it comes to whom and what people should be able to see.

Sunday came and went without an agreement between American and European officials regarding how data should be transferred between the two areas. With information on the internet being sent around the world before reaching you at your computer, handling private and sometimes confidential information is a sensitive topic.

One of the key areas of debate is how European’s data would be protected against surveillance from the American government, with legal support for anyone to settle disputes in the American courts relating to their information.

With big companies like Facebook and Google operating around the world, although with large bulks of their companies based in America, you can see why they are interested in how this discussion will end.

This negotiation began three months ago, with a 15-year-old data transfer pact (also known as a safe harbour agreement), being invalidated due to Europeans data not being protected well enough when transferred to the United States.

With some people arguing that the standards in the US match those present in Europe, the deadline for a resolution is slowly creeping in, putting pressure on every party involved to resolve the matter.

Security Firm Sued For Incorrect Forensics Report

Remember when you are watching those TV shows, you know the ones, where government agencies are trying to track down bad guys who have breached a “secure” network? Happens in real life too, with companies like Affinity Gaming finding out the hard way.

Affinity gaming is a Las Vegas-based casino operator who discovered back in 2013 that their network had been breached and people were able to get to the credit card data. Sounds familiar right? Affinity Gaming hired the security firm Trustwave to investigate and isolate the breach, effectively fixing the problem. At the end of the investigation, they claimed that the data breach was “contained”, then adding comments on how to “fend off future data attacks”.

Affinity Gaming then found that they were suffering another data breach, for which they hired the data security firm Mandiant to investigate. It was during Mandiant’s investigation that they worked out the work previously done was only on a “subset of Affinity Gaming’s data security”. This coupled with the fact that they “had failed to identify the means by which the attacker had breached” their systems meant that overall Affinity Gaming believes Trustwave was responsible for “misrepresentations and grossly negligent performance” which in turn they believe cost them “significant out of pocket losses”.

Listing 76 steps outlying their interactions between the three companies and now the complaint, you can see why if one company promised to protect your data and then was found to have failed this task, you would want your money back.

Google Isn’t Happy With AVG’s Chrome Plugin

AVG have a give and take relationship when it comes to their attitudes and approach with security and privacy, from their creation of glasses that could hide you from facial recognition software to going so far as to start selling your browsing activity to companies. AVG Chrome plugin has been found to bypass Chrome’s security features, something which Google are less than happy with.

The Web TuneUp tool is available for download from Chrome’s extension store, which sent the web addresses where they were compared against known malicious sites, in hopes that they could warn you before you land on one of those bad sites. The way the plugin was created though reportedly left the information open to exploits as reported by Google Security researcher Tavis Ormandy on December 15 in an issue report. In the report, he describes it by stating that it “exposes browsing history and other personal data to the internet”.

Ormandy was less than pleased about it, stating that he was unsure if he should contact AVG (an action that he did do) or if he should ask the extension abuse team to investigate it as a PuP (Potentially unwanted program, a term often used to describe pieces of software that could also be described as viruses or malware).

As of December, 28th AVG has completed a secure patch for the plugin while it has been reported by Ars Technica that the plugin was frozen while the plugin was investigated for policy violations.

Companies Face Criminal Charges for Notifying You of Spying

The government is at the heart of a major debate regarding your information and their attempts to gain access to them. With everything from encryption to the latest in a long stream of bad ideas, making companies who inform you when people are attempting to read your information pay criminal charges.

The Snoopers Charter, or by its proper name the Investigatory Powers Bill, would not only require sites to keep up to twelve months worth of your details, including your visited sites, but would also give government agencies access to this information, all while government officials have been requesting backdoor access to encrypted data that could be easily accessed by the authorities (not to mention any hacker who finds the backdoor).

A small side note on the bill states that the bill “will ensure that a communications service provider does not notify the subject of an investigation that a request has been made for their data unless expressly permitted to do so”. This means that companies would have to be told they can tell you, rather than being told to keep it a secret.

With companies like Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and Google already alerting you when they believe your account is being spied upon, making it illegal for companies to warn you that people are delving into your personal life could quickly come back and cause issues, both legally and morally.

Image courtesy of Beta news

Wetherspoons Reveals Extent Of Hack

From phone calls made to and from prisons, to the details of thousands of children and their parents, hacks seem to be everywhere and are affecting everyone these days. The latest one to reveal they’ve been hacked is  JD Wetherspoons, the popular pub chain.

Revealing that its old website was hacked between the 15th and 17th of June, but only learning about the attack on the 1st of December, Wetherspoons called in security specialists before informing customers on the 3rd of December. Yet again the hack seems to have revealed a database containing numerous customer details, currently put at around 656,723 customers.

The details included in the database were the first name, surname, date of birth and contact details such as mobile phone numbers and email addresses.

If you purchased a voucher before August 2014, the last four digits of your credit or debit card could have been accessed, although they are keen to express that no other details, such as security codes or the remainder of your card details, were exposed.

Don’t pay by card? How about not using your card when you go to Wetherspoons? This doesn’t affect me? Did you sign up for their free wifi, or maybe even used the Contact us form? If you did then your data could be included in that which was revealed.

Amongst TalkTalk, Vodafone and VTech, more and more companies are finding their systems breached. Maybe now is a good time to avoid handing out any details to any company or person.

National Security Letters Are Starting To Be Exposed

Security and secrecy are commonplace these days, with hacks and threats all around the world coming together in the digital world. Not only does our information being accessible from all over the world pose a danger, but we also have the threat that even the people we trust, the very organisation that pertain to protect us, can get to this information. One way of doing this within the U.S. has been the National security letter, but finally some light is being shed on what these actually contain.

National Security Letters (NSL) is a tool which means that federal investigators can request a person’s information from any organisation it deems necessary, your doctors or car dealer, your bank or your even your work. The problem people have had with these documents is that all they need to be considered valid is an agent’s signature saying it was relevant to a case. This meant there was no legal process, no Judge’s or legal oversight.

What made the NSL even more fighting was that it came with a built-in gag order, making it illegal to even state you had been issued one to disclose information. Citing the first amendment the federal Judge in a case of a small ISP being requested information from an NSL, as shown in the court document here, show that the list is quite extensive.

Your name and “related subscriber information”, account number, addresses and phone numbers, screen names and billing information, even your IP’s and “any other information which you consider to be electronic communication transactional record”. While some of these may seem completely irrelevant it even includes to things ordered or shipped relating to the account.

Nicholas Merill, the president of Calyx Internet Access in New York back in 2004, has been fighting the gag order contained within the NSL for 11 years in an attempt to reveal the information the FBI was seeking.

The gag orders have since been lessened, as stated by the Director of National Intelligence, the gag orders will be terminated after three years unless a special agent and case agent can determine and provide in writing why the gag order is required for an extended period.

It’s scary just how much information they could legally obtain, without any legal restrictions or oversight.

Amazon Passwords Could Have Been Leaked

It’s that time of the year again, when everyone goes crazy and starts buying ready for all the events and gift giving that is come over the next few months (some even preparing so much as to get some ordered for next year). Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year is upon us and with it a lot of people are looking and watching online stores waiting for that juicy one time deal they could quickly scope up before it all goes. To no surprise, Amazon is one of these online stores, so what does it mean when people started receiving emails asking them to change their passwords? That’s right another potential breach.

As reported by ZDNet, a selection of their readers received emails asking them to reset their password (the email was also sent via Amazons message centre, confirming that it came from a legitimate source). The reason given was that your password could have been stored on your device or transmitted in a way that exposed it to third parties.

Amazon continued to state they had corrected the issue, but that temporary passwords were being issued as a sign of caution.

Given recent hacks and breaches, it’s not surprising that Amazon is airing on the side of caution when it comes to people’s accounts, especially around this time of year.

Quantum Entanglement Is Real And At Room Temperature

Quantum Entanglement may sound like a term straight out of a science-fiction film, but it is real. Quantum entanglement is a term used to describe when you link two particles, this means that when you affect one particle, the linked particle displays the same change in behaviour no matter how far apart they are. Imagine it is almost like a particle walkie-talkie system, you say something on one end and the other end hears it as if you had said it there. While this was possible before, you had to go near absolute zero to achieve it, meaning that while an amazing piece of science and technology, the practical uses were slim. That is no longer the case as a research paper has appeared announcing they have managed to complete the action at room temperature.

The experiment resulted in thousands of electrons and nucleons being linked, roughly equating to the size of a blood cell; around 40 micrometer’s cubed. By using infrared laser light to align the magnetic states and then MRI imaging to entangle them, the group hopes that this can be the first step towards using quantum technology in an everyday environment.

The technology could create sensors which are more sensitive to changes or even to create systems where it is scientifically impossible to intercept a message between two devices (simply because the message would only exist at the start and end point). A whole host of possible uses have appeared and this technology can only continue to grow.

Artificial Skin with a Sense Of Touch Being Developed

The technology behind prosthetic limbs has dramatically evolved over time for the benefit of assisting individuals who have had the misfortune of losing a limb. The next step forward to that is a coined Bionic limb that gives the user something akin to natural human skin. This realization looks to be making significant progress after “funding from the U.S. Department of Defence has allowed several researchers to make progress toward  more humanlike prosthetic hands that offer users a sense of control and touch”.  

It’s a strange one that funding is being allocated from the department of defense with the aim of benefiting humanity instead of the standard artillery. Anyway, scientists from Stanford have outlined a new type of pressure sensor in the form of a flat yet flexible material that could in theory serve as a type of artificial skin layer, which would then fit onto prosthetics. This is very much in the vein of human skin that is fitted over the bone and muscle within a human body, this technique would then in theory allow the wearer to both manipulate and also feel objects, though it’s not the evolution form of natural touch, but rather an artificial replication of the sensation.

Lead researcher Zhenan Bao has outlined that “The sensors send pulses that the brain interprets in order to determine a certain sense of touch. “It’s directly mimicking the biological system”

The “skin” itself is constructed from plastic which is then printed with a waffle pattern to make it compressible. Embedded inside are “carbon nanotubes”, these are tiny rods of pure carbon that conduct electricity which in turn squeezes the material and bring the rods closer together, creating more rapid pulses as the pressure increases.

In essence, this is a fascinating step forward that could hopefully benefit and also assist a person’s life. The ability to feel is an essential part of the human condition, any loss of that is worrying when you think of the potential ramifications. But that is not the end, eventually the scientific community hopes to be able to “channel information from artificial sensors into the peripheral nerves that were once connected to the lost hand”.

Human exploration and understanding of science has achieved a great deal and this is another compelling chapter. Hopefully, this work will achieve more answers and enable further development.

Thank you technologyreview for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of gizmodo

Big Brother Drone Is Watching Construction Workers

Big Brother is everywhere, from CCTV cameras on poles to the most cutting edge of democracy crushing surveillance which has been brought to you by the NSA, CIA, GCHQ and CITV, now a new American football stadium which is under construction is monitoring its workers by implementing Drones.

The sports arena is question goes by the name of Sacramento Kings in California, the workers are being monitored by drones and software that can automatically flag slow progress. So how does it work? “Once per day, several drones automatically patrol the Sacramento work site with the aim of collecting video footage. That footage is then converted into a three-dimensional picture of the site showing when each element should be finished. The software can show managers how the project is progressing, and can automatically highlight parts that may be falling behind schedule”.

In theory, this is an idea which monitors construction with the aim of planning for any future errors or for example how the weather is affecting the build. The problem lies with the notion of how this data will be used, if for example a particular worker or team falls slightly behind schedule, will those individuals be fired? The concerning information also states that

“The University of Illinois team is currently testing a system that will allow drones to attach cameras to locations across a building site, so that activity can be monitored continually. A manager can then see how different tasks are being performed overall, and how much time each individual is spending on a job”.

To me this is attempting to speed human beings up to the same level which machines can operate, collecting data for architectural and building purposes is standard to ensure safety, asking drones to fly over the top of workers and record their movements? Not so much, data needs to be overseen with proper protocols in place to ensure information is not built up with the aim of placing jobs at risk. Psychologically, if those workers feel that they are being watched 24/7, it will place them in a heightened state which might affect concentration and health.

Below is a GIF/JIF of the current phases which have been modelled for the stadium, as you can see, it’s pretty impressive, let’s hope employment rights are as futuristic as the design.

Thank you MIT for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of watchdogwire

Microsoft Nukes Most Patch Notes For Windows 10

When your computer begins to behave in an odd manner, one of the first trouble shooting places is to see if Microsoft has installed a patch which conflicts with a piece of software or process. Or you could click the link and read the attached description of an update to see if you would like to install it or not. Well, first Microsoft decided to install updates whether you like it or not, now they will not explain feature updates unless it deems them significant.

Let’s look at the last three KB Cumulative Updates which were KB 3081424 (August 5), KB 3081436 (August 12) and KB 3081438 (August 14) Microsoft described them as “This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10” This sounds excellent, after all, what user does not want improvements to their shiny new OS, well not theirs but Microsoft’s shiny new OS who have allowed you to use it. What they failed to mention was that some users have found the patch to have placed their machine in an endless reboot cycle.

Microsoft have stated this – “As we have done in the past, we post KB articles relevant to most updates which we’ll deliver with Windows as a service. Depending on the significance of the update and if it is bringing new functionality to Windows customers, we may choose to do additional promotion of new features as we deploy them”

Sounds good, nothing has changed then, let’s see what KB 3081438 patch does,

This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.”

It improves and enhances something in Windows 10 apparently. I am not a coding expert, but I am not sure “something” is a feature, although it might be considering Microsoft aims to install anything on your machine.

I would say that Microsoft both rushed and also implemented a terrible customer strategy for Windows 10. Microsoft is treating your computer as theirs, once you install the OS, this is no longer yours, or this is the impression being projected to consumers. Perhaps we are entering a new phase in the tech revolution, where personal space and boundaries are scrapped, where all your documents, images and personal information are owned by tech corporations, roll up and sell yourself to the company store.

Thank you extremetech and Microsoft Support for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of mobiledevice

Redditer Discovered Hidden Feature in iOS 9 and Mac OS X El Capitan

We got a lot of information out of what to expect from iOS 9 and El Capitan this fall at Apple’s WWDC in June. Even so, developers are said to be good at discovering Apple’s ‘hidden’ new features, but this time around, it seems that one of them, who I think is actually useful, was actually discovered by someone else.

A redditer going by the name of homeboi808 seems to have stumbled upon a feature who went on unnoticed so far. On both iOS 9 and El Capitan, if you tap on a flight number in either the Mail, Messages or Notes app, the OS’ will work the flight out and give you a flight path overview, along with all information about that flight. This includes arrival, departure times, possible delays and even airport terminal details.

It seems that Apple has added a built-in feature that detects and reacts to gestures when it finds a flight number. However, that needs to adhere to the actual flight number style, so don’t expect it to do the same with just anything you type in. Even so, the flight number needs to be valid in order to get information about it.

Even so, the feature is really helpful when you’re expecting to pick someone up from the airport or are planning a journey. Getting up-to-date information about your flights is a must from my point of view. What do you think?

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information

Twitter Personal Information Requests Double In UK

The UK Government has made more than double the amount of requests about citizen’s data on Twitter compared to six months ago. Twitter’s open ethos means the company publishes a “Transparency Report” about the number of requests they receive globally. The information requests between January and July dramatically increased from 116 to 299. As a result, the UK Government easily exceeds other European nations such as France which only made 139 requests.

Despite this, the USA still accounts for the majority of cases and increased by a mammoth 52%. The statistics show that the USA made 2,436 requests within a 6 month period. In second place was Japan with 425 requests followed by Turkey which made 412. According to Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch,

“Thanks to the transparency reports of internet companies, we know police are already accessing data with far greater frequency than many other countries,”

“If the public are to have any confidence that surveillance powers are being used proportionately, then we should not have to rely on private companies to publish this data.

“The government should proactively be publishing their own transparency reports, highlighting exactly how many requests are being made, how often they are refused and why,”

The Security Services received a great deal of criticism for infringing the privacy of citizens and abusing their power. The internet should maintain an open ideology but it’s difficult to find a balance between security and privacy. Should Governments have the right to monitor online communications and request personal data? Let us know your thoughts!

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.