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June Will Be 1 Second Longer

by
in internet on (#9XMS)
story imageIt's a dreaded day for many Internet companies: On June 30, an extra second will be added to the clock, creating the potential to wreak havoc on computer systems not equipped to handle the change. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems (IERS) announced an extra second will be added at the end of June to account for a discrepancy between Earth's rotation and the atomic clock. The extra second will be added as the clock strikes midnight universal time, meaning the extra second will come for people in the United States at 8 p.m. EDT. There have been 25 instances since 1972 of an extra second being added.

It's possible that programs not equipped to handle the extra second could have an issue. When the last leap second was added on June 30, 2012, it caused issues with a number of websites, including LinkedIn and Yelp. Mozilla, Reddit and Foursquare all experienced system crashes. Qantas was hard hit, too, with a failure of its check-in system creating flight delays across the network.

UK porn industry proposes alternative ID checks

by
Anonymous Coward
in internet on (#9V9D)
Britons may soon face identity checks to access adult material on the internet, according to discussions between Whitehall and the private sector. “Nobody in the UK wants a centralised identity database,” so a new scheme proposed by the pornography industry would see adult sites verifying visitors’ identity through banks, credit reference agencies or even the NHS. It comes ahead of an expected new law demanding age checks for online pornography and threatening a block on any sites which don’t comply. It is a key Conservative pledge and has widespread support. But critics say the plans are a privacy nightmare, and warn they will require Chinese-style “draconian” levels of internet censorship.

Britain’s pornography industry has a lot to gain from the government’s plans, critics point out. Tough regulation and stiff competition from abroad have taken their toll on the industry. If overseas sites were blocked it would be boom time for homegrown pornographers. But foreign web companies are beginning to pay attention, too. “Quite how these foreign websites are going to be brought to task, and how quickly they are going to bring it in, I don’t know.”

Computrace backdoor exposes millions of PCs

by
Anonymous Coward
in security on (#9RJV)
Security researchers have discovered millions of PCs have Computrace software enabled. This software is enabled in the BIOS by default. It allows for a Windows PC to be taken over remotely. Computrace does not enforce encryption when it communicates and it does not verify the identity of the remote server from which it receives commands. Most users are not even aware that this software is installed and enabled in their BIOS.

Nearly every PC has an anti-theft product called Computrace embedded in its BIOS PCI Optional ROM or its unified extensible firmware interface (UEFI). Computrace (aka. Lojack for Laptops) is a legitimate, trusted application developed by Absolute Software. However, it often runs without user-consent, persistently activates itself at system boot, and can be exploited to perform various attacks and to take complete control of an affected machine.

LG unveils paper-thin 55-inch OLED TV that sticks to the wall with magnets

by
in hardware on (#9MT0)
story imageLG Display showed off the scintillating possibilities of OLED technology last year with a rollable 22-inch OLED display. Now, the company has unveiled a detachable 55-inch display that you can literally stick to a wall using nothing more than a magnet.

OLED displays differ from LED-lit LCD displays as they don’t need a backlight to brighten up your living room, which not only allows the displays to offer unparalleled black levels, rich colors, and vivid contrast, but also allows OLED displays to be remarkably thin. The design gets even thinner when you remove the brains of the TV from the equation.

LG unveiled its first commercially viable OLED TV last year in the EC9300 HDTV ($3,500), and has continued to ramp up production, unveiling several new models for 2015, all of which will pack 4K UHD resolution. The company did say that it expects to sell 600,000 OLED panels this year, and 1.5 million next year. Just when (or if) the rest of us will get our hands on one of those futuristic, ultra-thin OLED displays that can be peeled off the wall with ease remains to be seen.

Google Tone lets computers talk to each other, literally

by
in mobile on (#9H2E)
Reinventing the acoustic coupled modem of the 1970s, Google engineers have found a way for computers to share data through their speakers. Dubbed Tone, the Chrome app broadcasts the URL of the current tab to any machine within earshot that also has the extension installed. The extension is available now in Chrome's web store. "Tone grew out of the idea that while digital communication methods like email and chat have made it infinitely easier, cheaper, and faster to share things with people across the globe, they've actually made it more complicated to share things with the people standing right next to you. Tone aims to make sharing digital things with nearby people as easy as talking to them," Kauffman and Smus said in a blog post.

"Many groups at Google have found that the tradeoffs between ease and reliability worthwhile—it is our hope that small teams, students in classrooms, and families with multiple computers will too," they said. In Mashable's testing, the extension worked surprisingly well — the extension was able to detect the beeps from a nearby laptop even when the sound was coming through headphones. The extension is also able to share to multiple computers at once, provided each one has the extension installed.

Driverless cars may reduce U.S. auto sales 40% by 2040

by
in environment on (#9ER4)
Self-driving cars have become a frequent topic for auto executives as the technology for the vehicles emerges. The market for autonomous technology will grow to $42 billion by 2025 and self-driving cars may account for a quarter of global auto sales by 2035, according to Boston Consulting Group. By 2017, partially autonomous vehicles will become available in “large numbers,” the firm said in a report in April.

But self-driving cars may cause U.S. auto sales to drop about 40 percent in the next 25 years because of shared autonomous vehicles, forcing mass-market producers to slash output, a Barclays Plc analyst said. Vehicle ownership rates may fall by almost half as families move to having just one car. Driverless cars will travel twice as many miles as current autos because they will transport each family member during the day. Sharing autonomous vehicles, acting like a robot-taxi, could push that even lower. Every shared vehicle on the road would displace nine traditional autos, and each pooled shared vehicle would take the place of as many as 18, according to the report.

Automakers are working to overhaul their business models for a world where mobility is being redefined as most of the global population crowds into large megacities during the next two decades. Driverless cars that move in harmony may become essential to keep people and goods flowing safely and efficiently. Embracing the disruption may be the only way to keep pace with alternative forms of transportation competing with automobiles in this changing world. “While extreme, a historical precedent exists. Horses once filled the many roles that cars fill today, but as the automobile came along, the population of horses dropped sharply.”

Security researcher controlled passenger jet via inflight entertainment system

by
in security on (#96BP)
story imageChris Roberts, a security researcher with One World Labs, who has been issuing warnings about vulnerabilities in inflight entertainment systems for years, told the FBI agent during an interview in February that he had hacked the in-flight entertainment system on an airplane and overwrote code on the plane’s Thrust Management Computer while aboard the flight. “He stated that he thereby caused one of the airplane engines to climb resulting in a lateral or sideways movement of the plane during one of these flights,” FBI Special Agent Mark Hurley wrote in his warrant application. “He also stated that he used Vortex software after comprising/exploiting or ‘hacking’ the airplane’s networks. He used the software to monitor traffic from the cockpit system.”

“We believe Roberts had the ability and the willingness to use the equipment then with him to access or attempt to access the (inflight entertainment system) and possibly the flight control systems on any aircraft equipped with an (inflight entertainment system) and it would endanger the public safety to allow him to leave the Syracuse airport that evening with that equipment,” sates the warrant application. Roberts has not yet been charged with any crime. The allegations contained in the search warrant application have not been proven in court.

Shortly after the incident with Roberts, Wired reported that the TSA and the F.B.I. issued a bulletin to airlines to be on the lookout for passengers showing signs they may be trying to hack into an airplane’s Wi-Fi or inflight entertainment system. Wired also reported that the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report warning that electronic systems on some planes may be vulnerable to hacking.

Microsoft remotely disables leaker’s Xbox One console

by
in microsoft on (#94ZX)
It turns out that Microsoft not only has the power to ban you from Xbox Live permanently, but it can also temporarily make your Xbox One totally unusable, as the beta testers behind the Gears of War Remastered leak have found out. If you didn’t think Microsoft had this power, you’re not alone.

This week, videos showing off the latest internal build of Microsoft’s unannounced Gears of War remake were leaked on to the web. These videos originated from testers working for VMC, a third-party agency hired by Microsoft. Obviously neither company was particularly happy when the leaks hit the web. The leakers were quickly found and have been banned from VMC’s beta testing program. Additionally, Microsoft has taken matters in to its own hands, removing access to their consoles entirely. Microsoft permanently disabled their Xbox LIVE accounts (as well as other suspected accounts present on their Xbox One kits) and temporarily blocked all of their Xbox One privileges – meaning that for a period of time which Microsoft decides on depending on the severity of the offense, their Xbox One is entirely unusable.

Verizon, Sprint customers to get refunds for fraudulent "cramming" charges

by
in legal on (#8ZDE)
All 50 state attorney generals, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Communications Commission, reached settlements with Sprint and Verizon Wireless that include $158 million in payments to resolve allegations that Sprint and Verizon placed unauthorized, third-party charges on consumers' mobile telephone bills, a practice known as "cramming."

Consumers who have been "crammed" often have charges, typically $9.99 per month, for "premium" text message subscription services (also known as "PSMS" subscriptions) such as horoscopes, trivia, and sports scores that the consumers have never heard of or requested. Sprint and Verizon are the third and fourth mobile telephone providers to enter into nationwide settlements to resolve allegations regarding cramming. Similar settlements with AT&T were announced in October of 2014 ($105 million), and T-Mobile in December of 2014 ($90 million). All four mobile carriers announced they would cease billing customers for commercial PSMS in the fall of 2013.

Sprint will provide $50 million and Verizon will provide $70 million directly to consumers who were victims of cramming. Consumers can submit claims under the redress programs by visiting www.SprintRefundPSMS.com and/or www.CFPBSettlementVerizon.com. On those websites, consumers can submit claims, find information about refund eligibility and how to obtain a refund, and can request a free account summary that details PSMS purchases on their accounts.

Keyless entry fobs result in rash of vehicle thefts

by
in security on (#8TR4)
story imageAs vehicles become more technologically advanced, thieves are becoming technologically savvy, too. Cars with a hands-free key fobs typically unlock a car within about 30 centimeters. But across the USA, thieves have begun using a device called a power amplifier to help unlock cars. The amplifier, which can cost less than $20 over the Internet — takes the signal from the car and projects it as far as 100 meters, so your car can find your key fob in your purse, pocket or the table where you dump your stuff when you come in the door.

In Toronto, Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York, Springfield, and more cities, police have reported a spike in thefts from Toyota and Lexus SUVs, Priuses, and more vehicles, all parked in owners' driveways with no signs of damage. As more people buy cars with these no-push key fobs, what's the solution to stopping this type of break-in? "Use a microwave" or wrap your keys in aluminum foil. The heavy metal cages block the signal. It's another case of convenience becoming a two-edged sword.
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