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.

UN Aviation Want Real-Time Tracking Of Aircraft

In recent years, we’ve had tragic incidents in which aircraft have gone missing, leaving many wondering what happened to the people on board. To prevent further loss, the UN’s international civil aviation organization (ICAO) want to create a system to enable real-time tracking of aircraft.

The three most significant tweaks to Annex 6 of the Chicago Convention (the document outlining how aircraft, airports and anything operating in their airspace needs to work) are as follows:

  • Aircraft must carry “autonomous distress tracking devices” that can “transmit location information at least once every minute in distress circumstances.”
  • The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) must be able to store at least 25 hours of recording, “so that they cover all phases of flight for all types of operations.”
  • Aircraft must be “equipped with a means to have flight recorder data recovered and made available in a timely manner.”

These moves mean that even if you were unable to locate the plane immediately and recover the CVR or flight recorder, the information and details regarding the flight would still be accessible. ICAO’s president Olumyiwa Benard Aliu states that in the case of an accident “the location of the site will be known immediately to within six nautical miles”.

While this may be late for some, the new rules which airline operators have until 2021 to adopt, could prevent others from asking the question of where.

Google AI Can Work Out Photo Locations Without Geotags

Google are making AI for all kinds of purposes, including tackling the challenging Chinese game of Go. Now, they have revealed their latest deep-learning program, PlaNet, which is capable of recognizing where an image was taken even without it being geotagged.

PlaNet was trained by Google researchers with 90 million geotagged images from around the globe, which were taken from the internet. This means that PlaNet can easily identify locations with obvious landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Big Ben in London, a simple task which any human with knowledge of landmarks can do. This is taken even further by PlaNet, which sets itself apart with its ability to determine the location in a picture that is lacking any clear landmarks, with the deep learning techniques it uses making it able to even identify pictures of roads and houses with a reasonable level of accuracy.

The PlaNet team, led by software engineer Tobias Weyand challenged the accuracy of the software using 2.3 million geotagged images taken from Flickr while limiting the platform’s access to the geotag data. It was capable of street-level accuracy 3.6% of the time, city-level accuracy 10.1% of the time, country-level accuracy 28.4% of the time and continent level accuracy 48% of the time. This may not sound too impressive, but when Weyand and his team challenged 10 “well-travelled humans” to face off against PlaNet, it was able to beat them by a margin, winning 28 out of 50 games played with a median localization error of 1131.7 km compared to the humans 2320.75 km. Weyand reported that PlaNet’s ability to outmatch its human opponent was due to the larger range of locations it had “visited” as part of its learning.

What the plans are for PlaNet going forward is anyone’s guess, with a potential application being to locate pictures that were not geotagged at the time of photography, but it will be interesting to see how the techniques that bring machine learning closer and closer to humans can advance in the future.

TMZ Falls Victim to Malvertising Campaign

Malicious online activity in the form of hacks, malware and viruses have seen an exponential increase over the past 5 years, the rise in the number of consumers online coupled with a lax understanding concerning the dangers of the many cyber threats has led to more and more victims. Malvertising is one such example of how online advertisements could be hijacked and used to spread Malware through Malicious ads.

This technique has now found a new victim after online gossip site TMZ was found to be harbouring malicious online advertisements. For those who are unfamiliar with the site, TMZ is a hugely popular website that features expose, gossip and general breaking news concerning the world of celeb, the site pulls in over 30 million visitors a month and is a major attraction for online revenue, below is a summary of the attack.

It has been observed that the attack has the same ad chain pattern; this is from “ContextWeb (PulsePoint) to Smarty Ads and eventually various rogue advertisers”. The latter is leveraging CloudFlare’s infrastructure with the aim of hiding the servers location as well as encrypting the advertisement delivery to consumers via the website.

 

 

The malicious ad is pretty cheap to deliver when you consider it costs “$0.19 (£0.12) for one thousand user impressions (CPM)” 

These attacks are designed to be as cheap as possible with the aim of targeting high impact traffic targets, on a side note, many websites try to discourage users from using popular ad blockers when accessing their sites, perhaps malicious advertisements leading to exploit kits is not the best deterrent.

Images courtesy of malwarebytes and nickcannon

Google Maps For Android Showing Pit Stops En Route

Getting from A to B has always been an everyday thing, from the front door of your home to school or work and sometimes it goes a little further, say across the country? For those times, and some shorter journeys too, people have used navigation software like that found on your sat nav’s and even on your smartphones. Google has been keen on making their navigation software both practical and useful by adding features such as alternative routes and traffic warnings, now you may find that a quick stop for lunch is even easier with an upcoming update to the Android app.

Available in an upcoming release for the American version of the android app, by selecting “search along route” people are able to track down gas, restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores, while the ability to also “search for more places” means that you are not limited to these choices and could soon find your favourite restaurant to stop for a quick bite while on that little drive.

With all these features and an added bonus of being able to see the closing times of gas stations, users could soon find their Google maps being a little more useful in the near future. Hopefully, their European version of this update will be released soon, giving us just another reason to take that long holiday we’ve been asking for.

 

California’s Legal System Now Supports Digital Privacy

In recent years, there has been a big uproar courtesy of a certain reveal by a man named Edward Snowden, regarding digital privacy. To be more precise, it was about the lengths that groups went to in order to avoid any legal requirements when it came to accessing and using your personal information. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act looks to be the first, and hopefully the first of many, to enforce a legal right to digital privacy.

Governor Gerry Brown signed the Act taking it into full effect and I have no doubt that a wide variety of people will be happy about it. The Electronics Communications Privacy Act states that any, I repeat, any state law enforcement agency or any other investigative entity are required to have a warrant in order to obtain digital information (including information stored in the cloud, such as emails or text messages) and that they cannot ‘compel’ businesses to hand over this information without a warrant. It doesn’t end there though if they want to use your GPS to track you or even to search your phone, they will need a warrant for that too.

While not the first to outline in a legal document the requirement of a warrant for your data, or even your location, it is the first to cover things like metadata and your device searches. Many hope that this could be the first of many laws, with other states taking up their own versions of the Electronics Communications Privacy Act or pushing for these conditions to be placed on a national scale, affecting all agencies regardless of state.

Thank you Wired for the information.

Image courtesy of Falkvinge

Naive Man Upgrades PC To Windows 10 And Has A Photo Problem

By photo problem you are probably imagining the upgrade to Windows 10 has deleted some unlucky person’s valuable images of life’s memories. Oh no, this is much less captured family time and more caught out with NSFW pics.

A Reddit user which goes by the username FalloutBoS, started the process of upgrading his PC to the shiny new Windows 10 OS, he went to bed satisfied in the knowledge that he would have a pleasant surprise the next morning. He had a surprise all right, when he was abruptly woken by his slightly confused wife who questioned why there were blue images rotating on his desktop.

Imagine that, the love of your life walks past the PC for only to then see nude images, this man is unlucky. So how did this happen? It looks as if yet another controversial feature has befallen him, which is Win 10 fetches images from a users default pictures gallery before playing them on repeat on the screen.

The gentleman stated the following

“Woke up to wife asking why I set it to rotate all my adult images right on the desktop view. I have no idea how to shut that feature off and that computer is staying shut down until I do.”

Let this tale be a lesson to any individuals who may have NSFW images in their default picture folder, if you don’t want your girlfriend/wife/boyfriend/husband to confront you about it, then move them, FalloutBos wife apparently understood, your other half might not be so sympathetic, if he/she is, then you will in all probability be together forever.

Thank You Reddit for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of slashgear

Can Depression be Detected by Analyzing Smartphone Data?

When I first stumbled upon this story I became interested for two reasons, firstly, sufferers all too often hide this illness from view, the “yes I’m fine” is a mantra which all too often covers a veil which is impossible to imagine. According to ball park stats, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression worldwide; this is the leading cause of disability on the planet. According to Mental Health UK, 1 in 4 people will experience a form of mental health related issue each year.

Secondly, it does not matter what your social standing is, how many cars you have or the wealth you have accumulated, this form of mental illness can still be developed and is indiscriminate regardless of status. Awareness is crucial and according to researchers at Northwestern University, a Smartphone’s sensor data can potentially detect depression by tracking the amount of minutes a person uses their phone per day and also how often they change their geographical location.

This study which was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research on Wednesday, involved analysing the GPS locations and phone usage of a study group of 28 people over two weeks. Their locations were tracked every five minutes. The findings showed that the average daily usage for depressed people is 68 minutes; this was compared to just 17 minutes for non-depressed individuals. It was also found that there might be a link between the amount of geographical locations and depression; the fewer places a person visits could be an indicator of depression.

To explain the correlation between phone usage and possible depression, when a person is developing or at a high risk of this illness, they tend to withdraw, the more someone uses their phone alone without talking to for example friends, this may be an indicator. Participants in the two-week study also took a standardized questionnaire measuring levels of depression which was called a PHQ-9 survey. This asks about symptoms used to diagnose depression for example sadness and loss of interest in hobbies etc. The results were that 14 people out of the controlled group did not have any signs of depression while 14 did exhibit these signs which ranged from mild to severe.

In order to gain a better understanding of the correlation between Smartphone usage and depression, a bigger study is needed. What this study does highlight is the imperceptible fine line between regular socializing and withdrawing.

I am not going to end this article to patronize or lecture, if anyone is reading this who feels as if they are feeling more miserable than normal, or has thoughts which might be extreme, I would say just find someone, whether it be a friend, relative or a trusted person or professional, and talk to them. Never think it’s just you or bottle up your feelings. If you know of a friend or relative whose mood has changed or is acting differently, then the best thing you can do is be there for them.

Thank You RT and Mental Health Foundation UK for providing us with this information

A New Kind Of ProxyHam Coming to DefCon

Ok you now think I have been lying in 35 degree heat all day and have crossed a privacy tool with a local butcher. I can assure you I am not hallucinating and that purple leprechaun agrees with me, only kidding, it’s green. I am quite sane and am here to talk about a possible new proxy tool which could be a game changer for privacy conscious Individuals.

At the upcoming DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas, a new tool by the name of ProxyHam is set to be unveiled, this device has been invented and developed by an individual by the name of Ben Caudill who aims to make it that little bit harder for network spies. This device is essentially a hardware proxy which is designed to use a radio frequency. By utilizing this form of connection, the device adds a physical layer of obfuscation to an internet user’s location

According to Google, obfuscation is defined as making something obscure which means your location is not transmitted over the Internet. This invention has been built for $200 dollars (£128) but the clever bit is still to come, the device connects wirelessly from a 900 megahertz antenna which is plugged into the Ethernet port of a PC, to a Raspberry Pi box which has been placed in a different location via a radio connection. This in turn means that any traceable location data is not from a person’s physical location, but from the ProxyHam box said individual has placed somewhere else.

This means that if the FBI come knocking or any other malevolent with power organization, they will think you live within a 2.5 mile radius of your actual address, and this means if you placed the box in Burger King, the fast food joint will be raided and not you. Here at eTeknix we are impartial and therefore would like to point out there are many other corrupt governments with which to be spied on and fast food joints with which to enlarge your liver.

At this stage these devices are still very much at the development and improvement stage, but if it can capture the mainstream, expect many boxes to pop up with confused officials staring at them to a town near you soon.

Thank You Wired for providing this information

DARPA Developing Superior GPS Replacement

Anyone who’s tried to negotiate their way cross-country with only a satnav for guidance knows that GPS signal can be temperamental. It seems that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) must have also struggled with a ten-hour road trip from Bournemouth to Loch Lomond, as it is developing a “radical” new technology to replace global positioning systems.

DARPA has written a new paper on the matter, in which it states its aim to create a system that goes beyond satellite tracking and signal strength. Or, as DARPA puts it, “The need to be able to operate effectively in areas where GPS is inaccessible, unreliable or potentially denied by adversaries, has created a demand for alternative precision timing and navigation capabilities.”

As part of the endeavour, DARPA is also developing self-calibrating gyroscopes, accelerometers, and tracking clocks that don’t depend on wireless signal. The system is projected to be self-contained, housing all the data you need to track your position within the device. In addition, DARPA wants to track local “signals of opportunity”, like television, radio, and even meteorological conditions, such as lightning, to help location tracking.

DARPA is, of course, focusing on military implementation but, as with all good tech, the new location system is sure to bleed through to the consumer market.

Source: Engadget

The UK Plans to Build its First Spaceport by 2018

The United Kingdom is said to have planned its first spaceport to be built and be up-and-running by 2018, while Virgin Galactic is preparing to become the first company launching space-tourism flights from within the country.

The British government is said to have planned an official announcement this Tuesday, where it will go into detail regarding the eight possible locations for the spaceport. The Guardian states that amongst the rumored locations include the north of Scotland, Norfolk, Bristol and Outer Hebrides.

“We have worked out the regulatory regime we need to launch spaceships in Britain and assessed what kind of aviation checks will have to be imposed when we put craft into space,” UK science minister David Willetts tells the Guardian. “In the wake of that work we have now created a shortlist of locations for the first British spaceport.”

The news does not come as a surprise, since the United Kingdom’s space sector is now worth over £11 billion / $18,8 billion, having the government aiming at raising it to around £40 billion by the end of 2030. In terms of flights, it is said that both commercial satellites and manned mission will be able to launch from the spaceport, with companies such as Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace already lining up as potential users.

Commercial space tourism is said to have been rapidly growing, having the UK jumping in at a key moment. Virgin Galactic is stated to have planned its first flight later this year, taking off from a base in New Mexico. In addition to the company’s flight schedule, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, is reported to have already identified at least one location in the UK suitable for launching space flights in the near future.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Fox News

Watch Dogs Browser App Brings the Hacking Experience into Your Browser

Everyone who has played Ubisoft’s latest hacking game title, Watch Dogs, knows about what Aiden Pearce, the main character in the game, has in his smartphone. For those who do not know, his smartphone is basically a mobile NSA tracking and hacking ‘supercomputer’, having the power to disable traffic lights, fiddle with bridges, smartphones, power lines and even the city’s grid.

Although in the real world you cannot do all of this with just a smartphone, Ubisoft has apparently made a ‘light’ version (without all the hacking features of course) of the app, which is available in your browser. Real world data from cities such as Berlin, Paris and even London can be displayed and accessed via the Watch_Dogs WeAreData browser app, displaying publicly accessible location-based data.

The application in question appears to display where mobile phones are, show and read tweets from the locations they were triggered, link CCTV feeds, traffic lights and more. It is said that each city displays a host of data, including transportation, network nodes, city infrastructure such as ATMs and public toilets, social media data from Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare and Flickr, all displayed with location data and positioned accordingly.

Though this seems as an incredible tool, it has its limitation. All data gathered by the app is said to come from sources which gave their consent on sharing location information. There is no information or data from unauthorized sources from, let’s say, the government. Nonetheless, it is fun to click around and see how the connected world is and looks like daily, and even spy on ‘unsuspected’ victims who post location tags and/or pictures all around these cities. Anyone interested in looking at one of the three available cities can go on the Watch_Dogs WeAreData website here.

Thank you Cult of Mac for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Cult of Mac

New Location Settings To Be Added in Android 4.4 KitKat

The old Android location services will be revamped on the new Android 4.4 KitKat release. It seems that the “Location Access” area will be called simply “Locations” and the Location ON/OFF switch will be moved from the area that used to be called “Access to my location” to the top right corner.

Furthermore, the two Location Sources features, GPS satellites and Wi-Fi & Mobile Network will be replaced with three new features. The first is “High Accuracy” which uses the GPS, Wi-Fi and mobile (but uses more battery), the second “Battery saving” which uses Wi-Fi and mobile networks and of course as the name says, it saves battery. The third is Device sensors only, which only uses the internal GPS receiver, but of course will take a long time to get your actual position.

The rumor is still to be treated as a rumor, at least for now, but given the images and looking from a logical point of view, there are high chances that the rumors will be true. There is a hint pointed to a launch date for the Android 4.4 on October the 15th, but we will have to wait and see what happens.

Thank you Android Police for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Android Police.

Hidden Features Of The Windows Phone 8

Your Windows Phone 8 lets you do much more than place calls, access a handful of websites, and play with rinky-dink apps. When you know how to get the most out of your Windows Phone 8, you will find that it helps you do everything from increase your productivity to help you have more fun online.

Location To Text

 

Image via Nokia Gadgets

The Windows Phone 8 includes one of the newest features in messaging, location to text. Let’s say your best friend recently moved into a new house and your sense of direction is as horrible as mine. I mean, you are the kind of person that requires the assistance of their GPS system to go everywhere. So your friend sends you a text message and along with the text message, your Windows Phone 8 attaches a little map. You click on the map, and then hit the “Drive” button and immediately you are on your way. There’s no longer a need to remember addresses or ask the stranger at the gas station for directions.

Mobile Casino & Xbox SmartGlass

 

Image via Spin Palace

You might not have time to take a trip to Monaco or Las Vegas, but you can use your Mobile Phone 8 to play real-money games online. Online casinos like Spin Palace have traditional games like Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, and Baccarat as well as exciting new options like video poker and online slots. Playing casino games online lets you have fun, but it also lets you earn money. What’s better than having a blast while you add cash to your bank account?

Don’t bother playing games with crummy graphics and boring plots. Your Windows Phone 8 lets you play Xbox Live games no matter where you go. Xbox Live includes plenty of free games for Windows Phone 8. You can also purchase inexpensive options like the classic Sonic the Hedgehog game for under $5. Best of all, your Xbox Live profile lets you keep track of the scores you earn at home and on your mobile device. When you connect with friends on the go, you still get to gloat about demolishing their best attempts at games like Super Monkey Ball 2 and AlphaJax. Xbox SmartGlass is a great feature for the gamer that hates to be away from his/her Xbox 360 for more than a five hours. With this feature you can stream music and webpages from your Window Phone 8 to your Xbox. SmartGlass also includes additional features for movies and games that otherwise might not be available.

The Power Of Office Hub & Sky Drive

 

Image via Revoseek

The operating system that comes with your Windows Phone 8 includes 7GB of free SkyDrive storage. This lets you upload files to the cloud, where and access them whenever you want from your phone or other devices. You can even share photos, videos, and other files with your friends. If you need more space, then sign up for a 100GB account. This option works well for people who take a lot of video. With 100GB of space, you could even store a whole movie.

Students, professionals, and amateurs rely on Microsoft Office to do everything from creating spreadsheets to typing dissertations. Before Windows Phone 8, though, you had pretty limited options. If you were the type who got inspiration from new surroundings, then you were out of luck. Office caused you to be tethered to a desk. Windows Phone 8 changes that completely by letting you create Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on the go. When you make these documents through the latest version of Office Hub, they will look exactly the same when you open them on other devices. If you are worried about the icons in PowerPoint, Word or Excel being too small, don’t. Microsoft took that in consideration when programming and designing the Windows Phone. Every aspect of these programs was perfectly rendered to work with the touch of your finger. That’s the assurance you need when you have to present important information to your boss or a group of potential investors. OfficeHub also includes a translator feature and has fifty different built-in languages.

Song Recognition

 

Image via Gizmodo

I am a huge music fan, it’s one of the two things I require in my life in order to make it throughout the day, and the second is food. The Windows Phone 8 includes a free app that allows unlimited music recognition, SoundHound. Imagine you are driving around town with your best friend and a new song comes on the radio. After the song ends, your first thought is, what was the name of that song again? With SoundHound, you can play the song loud enough for your phone to pick it up and the app will bring up the artist, album and title of the song within seconds. It is the “world’s only viable singing and humming recognition app.” As an added bonus, you also have the option of viewing the lyrics, it also makes it easier to stalk your favorite band or musician by incorporating Facebook and Twitter updates.

In a market saturated with over priced technology, the Windows Phone 8 is actually a mobile device that has not been over-hyped. The product is worth the price tag.