News Briefs Archive 2015

  

 

February

Drone Attack Threat

Itís okay, no need to head for the bunker, not just yet anyway, but it might be worth investing in a hard hat, and keeping a watchful eye on the skies for those small, and not so small hobby drones. They are now in danger of catching their very own malware infection. Itís called Maldrone, and it has the ability to switch control to another operator who can then do what they want with it, from pinching it by flying it away, to crashing it into the ground, or whoever happens to be underneath it at the time. So far Maldrone is just a proof of concept exercise, developed by security expert Rahul Sasi, and unlike previous attempts to hack drones, this one can, in theory, work on any make of model. The only bit of good news is that it appears that a hacker has to get very close to the drone to load the infection, so itís unlikely to spread throughout the population, but if you have one, just make sure you keep it in sight, and well away from any suspicious looking characters waving tablets, smartphones or laptops in the general direction of your flybot.

0202 

January

3D Printer Material Benefit

Once again it haw been a pretty lean year for whizzy new gizmos as the annual Consumer Electronic Show, held in Las Vegas. In fact it was mostly just more of the same with lots of ultra, mega or whatever the latest high definition TVs are called, plenty of wearables, most of which will disappear without trace, and the usual glut of intelligent and connected kettles, fridges and vacuum cleaners, but dig deep enough and there were one or novel ideas. One such was from MakerBot, one of the leading manufacturers of 3D printers, but itís not a printer, but the plastic filaments that make the objects thatís rather interesting. Until now thatís all it has been mostly just plain old plastic, but MakerBot has come up with composite filaments, bonded with a range of materials that includes limestone, iron, maple wood and bronze. MakerBot isnít the first with composite filaments, and these wonít be available until later this year, but itís a pacesetter in this small but rapidly growing market and it means that 3D printed objects can be made to look and feel much more like whatever it is they are supposed to be, which is especially useful for prototyping. One example on show is a hammer, with a wooden shaft and iron head, though itís still mainly plastic, so you wouldnít actually want to use it bash in nails, though apparently the handle does smell like wood. 3D printing is still some way away from being a useful consumer technology but developments like this are bringing it another small step closer, and making us want one...

1201

 

Permissions To Play

How many Android smartphone and tablet users ever take the time to read the list of Permissions that they have to agree to when installing an app? Probably not that many, and few of those who do may wonder why apparently self contained kids games and utilities need to access a phoneís call logs, message store, photo album, microphone or camera, but tap the Accept button anyway. In some cases these permissions are legitimate, and thereís nothing wrong with vibrating the phone for an incoming call or haptic feedback, but in a growing, and worryingly large number of apps the only explanation for many of the permissions, is that they are there to gather data about the user. What may be surprising is how common it is and many of the most popular apps are now probing deeply into our devices, and lives. Well, someone has taken the time to look into the issue. The results are reported on the Vocativ website who, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon computer science Professor and founder of PrivacyGrage.org, Jason Hong, have analysed and listed some of the worst offenders and come to the conclusion that this is a strong indicator of what app developers think they can get away with. At the top of the list is AntiVirus Security, Viber and Facebook with 44, 42 and 39 permissions respectively, which is pretty good going when you consider that there are around 60 permissions in all, so you have to wonder what they are up to. Next time read what you are signing up for, and if you donít like the look of it, let the developers know by leaving a comment and if you are concerned, walk away and hopefully they will get the message.

0301

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