A new device that costs only $26 to build can take over your car if it is physically plugged into your vehicle's Controller Area Network (CAN) bus.
Your CAN bus allows computerized devices inside your car to communicate without a host computer, and this new device, called the CAN Hacking Tool or CHT, can control your CAN bus.
The CHT recently made its debut at the DefCon 21 Hacking Conference (video below).
According to Jalopnik.com, once installed in your car, the CHT is controlled via wireless Bluetooth, which would give anyone with a cell phone control over your vehicle.
The developers of the CHT, Alberto Garcia Illera and Javier Vazquez Vidal, claimed they wanted to play with the settings of their cars to get better gas mileage.
The CHT uses a protocol designed for cars manufactured before 2010, but Vidal and Illera said the CHT could be configured for newer protocols and cars.
While the CHT creators do not have any criminal intent, it is possible that car thieves could use the CHT to control your car's headlights, steering, brakes, locks and alarms, noted the Daily Mail.
“It can take five minutes or less to hook it up and then walk away,” Vidal told Forbes. “We could wait one minute or one year, and then trigger it to do whatever we have programmed it to do.”
U.S. Military personnel and CIA operatives in Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan are using their targets' cell phone locations based on metadata from the National Security Agency (NSA) to launch drone attacks, which leads to the deaths of innocent civilians, says a new report.
According to The Intercept, NSA documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden and statements by a former drone operator say the NSA uses "geolocation," which locks onto the SIM card of a cell phone of a suspected terrorist.
The NSA's "Geo Cell" program does not verify whether the carrier of the cell phone is actually the suspected terrorist. Instead of confirming a target with human intelligence on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a drone strike based on the activity and location of the cell phone.
“They might have been terrorists,” said the former drone operator. “Or they could have been family members who have nothing to do with the target’s activities.”
“Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there, but we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an ‘unlawful enemy combatant,’" the former drone operator adds. "This is where it gets very shady.”
Based on his experience, the former drone operator believes that drone attacks are basically death sentences based on unreliable metadata.
Lest anyone accuse Snowden of informing the terrorists of U.S. secrets, they already know how the drone attack system works.
Some Taliban leaders intentionally distribute SIM cards among their units in order to elude the United States.
“They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator said. “That’s how they confuse us.”
Some unaware terrorist suspects may loan their cell phones to friends and family, who get killed by drones instead.
“It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone," Brandon Bryant, another former drone sensor operator with the U.S. Air Force, told The Intercept. "We’re not going after people, we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy."
RT.com notes that this new information contradicts claims by the Obama administration, which has said that drone strikes are conducted with precision accuracy to minimize civilian casualties.
"Before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured,” President Barack Obama said in 2013.
According to a 2012 study by Stanford Law School and New York University's School of Law, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan alone have killed far more people than the United States will admit, reported CNN.
It seems like a problem ripe for science-fiction: whether or not to mandate a permanent “kill switch” in mobile devices to stop the statistically high number of smartphone thefts in California. A bill was finally unveiled by State Sen. Mark Leno and District Attorney George Gascon of San Francisco that, if passed, will require all phones sold in California to have the ability by 2015.
According to RT.com, thefts of mobile phones “account for almost one in three U.S. robberies” and the instances are even higher in California. The proposed law would require the installation of a mechanism that could permanently disable the device, ending all potential for the phone to be reactivated in America or abroad.
Given that Americans currently spend about $7.8 billion in phone insurance, San Francisco Chief of Police Greg Suhr told the Associated Press, “I can’t imagine someone would vote against” this proposed law. However, CTIA, a trade group for wireless providers, disputes the assertion that phone insurance is its only worry.
The main concern about a permanent kill switch embedded in smartphones is that, like any device connected to the internet, it is susceptible to hacking. A recent NBC News report about hacking in Sochi, Russia is but one example of how vulnerable our data really can be. Government officials or public profile individuals who use smartphones could face an extra risk of attack from hackers looking to exploit the kill switch.
Phone insurance is both aggressively pushed by wireless providers and not a terrible idea for consumers who are purchasing very expensive pieces of technology. Shattered screens, broken buttons, and myriad other problems that can affect the phone make the insurance a product consumers want. It seems as if California lawmakers are treating a side-effect and not the disease. There are other ways to reduce this specific criminal problem than by placing restrictions on citizens and private companies.
Employee outcry over AOL’s changed 401k policy was so strong that CEO Tim Armstrong announced Friday that the company would scrap the overhaul.
The change would have switched 401k matching contributions by AOL from payments distributed per paycheck to an annual lump sum. The change would have affected both past employees who left the company mid-year and current employees who would no longer see the same compounding benefits in their retirement accounts.
When asked why the company originally made the switch, Armstrong cited “distressed babies” as examples of healthcare liabilities the company had to pay for in recent months. Armstrong told the story of two women covered by AOL’s employee healthcare benefits who needed roughly $1 million each during recent pregnancy complications. He said the costs incurred by AOL were “above and beyond” what was necessary.
Armstrong’s comment didn’t help his case. A number of employees lashed back at Armstrong for referring to the children of employees as financial liabilities. One of the formerly pregnant women Armstrong referenced wrote a column for Slate in which she called the CEO out.
“When I saw the headlines, it was sort of impossible to process he was talking about my daughter,” Deanna Fei said. “It [was] a violation – for singling us out for using the health plan we paid for.”
“I take issue with how he reduced my daughter to a 'distressed baby' who cost the company too much money,” Fei wrote in her scathing criticism of Armstrong’s comments. “How he blamed the saving of her life for his decision to scale back employee benefits … the implication from Armstrong that the saving of her life was an extravagant option, an oversize burden on the company bottom line, feels like a cruel violation, no less brutal for the ludicrousness of his contention.”
On Friday, Armstrong announced that AOL decided not to change their 401k policy after all. He glossed over the company’s attempted move in an email to employees.
"The leadership team and I listened to your feedback over the last week. We heard you on this topic,” Armstrong wrote. “And as we discussed the matter over several days, with management and employees, we have decided to change the policy back to a per-pay-period matching contribution."
Flappy Bird, a popular game for mobile devices, was removed from online stores Sunday after its developer complained the fame had ruined his simple life.
In several tweets, creator Dong Nyugen noted that the game’s removal had nothing to do with a legal dispute, despite Forbes’ claims that he could soon be sued for intellectual property theft. Rather, apparently Nyugen was making $50,000 a day from the game’s advertising revenue, and that proved to be overwhelming.
"I am sorry 'Flappy Bird' users," Nyugen tweeted on Saturday. "I cannot take this anymore."
Despite its simple graphics, Flappy Bird was a popular game because of its difficulty. Many users could not continuously tap the screen to keep the bird in flight and avoid hitting obstacles.
When Nyugen finally removed the game from online stores, many users tweeted him with hashtags like #RIPFlappyBird. Other fans expressed their relief that the game was gone, noting that it was the best for cracked phone screens everywhere.
A Virginia teen is facing child pornography charges after she allegedly tweeted nude photographs of herself.
The James City County Police Department says it received an anonymous tip about nude pictures posted by a 16-year-old girl on or around Jan. 30.
Department spokeswoman Stephanie Williams-Ortery told WAVY that the photos were also sent to some boys.
The girl and her mother were contacted by a school resource officer. Her phone was confiscated and she was charged with one count of distribution of child pornography.
The teen and her parents may be ordered by juvenile court to attend a sexting education program.
Local parents were surprised at the severe charge.
“I don’t think she should be charged with child pornography, because she is a child herself, but if she was 18 or older of course,” parent Emily Altman told WAVY.
“That is distributing, child pornography?” said parent Dometre Mobley. “She is a child, I don’t know what to think of that really.”
Williams-Ortery hopes that this case will make more teens aware of what they share on social media.
“It’s not just friends that see what they post but also strangers and everyone else out there,” she said. “You have no idea who’s out there watching. You never know who’s going to see what you post.”
Kids can get into trouble even if they didn’t take the photo.
“I would hope that they would not then forward it on to their friends because then they become guilty also of distribution of child pornography, whether they know that or not,” she added.
A new poll shows that Americans prefer their smartphones, Internet access, cars, laptops and TV over sex.
The new study by Harris Interactive shows that while 20 percent of Americans say they can't live without sex, but 26 percent couldn’t live without using their smartphones.
Sex also got beat by the Internet, automobiles, laptop computers and televisions, notes the Daily Mail.
The poll also found that almost three quarters of adults say technology enriches their lives, almost half believe it helps their relationships and close to 40 percent claim that technology makes them happier.
But food topped technology and everything else with 73 percent of the vote.
Sex was able to beat computer tablets, social networking sites and GPS devices (navigation).
Even with all this love for technology, 69 percent did admit that gadgets were too distracting.
An Alabama high school senior faces suspension after she posted a selfie on Instagram with a dead body while on a field trip to a university medical center.
According to WHNT News 19, a senior at Clements High School in Limestone County, Ala., took a photo of herself using her cellphone, smiling next to a cadaver as she and her classmates learned about the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s anatomical donation program. Sheets are not supposed to be removed from donated cadavers and use of cellphones was not allowed during the tour.
Before the student had a chance to delete the post from her Instagram account, a classmate took a screenshot of it and contacted school officials.
“We were notified via email this morning from a parent that this incident had occurred,” Karen Tucker, director of public relations and technology for Limestone County schools, told WHNT.
“We are speaking to the University of Alabama Birmingham, they are understandably upset with this incident and we want to preserve our relationship with the university,” Tucker added. “Therefore we are speaking to them and wanting to know how we can mend this process and keep our relationship with them, and we are in the process of deciding on the discipline that will occur.”
Clements High School principal Keith Hairrell would not disclose whether or not the student was suspended.
The university released a statement to WAFF about the incident:
"Tours of our facilities to introduce students – primarily high school seniors – to the teaching and research we do, play an important role in educating future scientists and doctors. Our policies require discretion and respect in our human anatomy facilities. No phones are allowed, no photos are to be taken, and faces of cadavers are covered. A student was made explicitly aware of these policies and breached them. This kind of disrespect is unacceptable and very disappointing. We will review our processes to ensure this does not happen again."
The Internet giant AOL is changing how it funds its employees' 401(k) retirement accounts.
Normally, companies match employee contributions monthly, but AOL is going to make one lump-sum matching payment at the end of the year.
Mother Jones reports that this trick helps AOL financially by not having to match 401(k) plans for employees who leave or are fired in the middle of the year (video below).
AOL employees will also get shorted because AOL's matching funds won't gain interest for them during the entire year.
Amazingly, AOL's CEO Tim Armstrong is blaming these choices on Obamacare.
According to The Washington Free Beacon, Armstrong recently told CNBC, "Obamacare is an additional $7.1 million expense for us as a company... As a CEO and Management Team, we had to decide, 'Do we pass the $7.1 million of Obamacare costs to our employees or do we try to eat as much of that as possible and cut other benefits?'"
Just a few months after Google banned Tits and Glass, an app that let users film point-of-view pornography using their Google Glasses, a new company has developed an app that lets Glass wearers identify strangers just by looking at their face.
The app is called NameTag and uses real-time facial recognition software to match a stranger’s face to his or her social media profile. Once a match is made, NameTag will display all available information about the person being viewed, including age, marital status, career, and interests.
As if we should all be excited about this, NameTag brags that it "can detect a face using the Google Glass camera, send it wirelessly to a server, compare it to millions of records, and in seconds return a match complete with a name, additional photos and social media profiles."
Kevin Alan Tussy, the app’s primary creator, spoke to The Independent about his creation.
"It's not about invading anyone's privacy," NameTag's creator claimed. "It's about connecting people that want to be connected. We will even allow users to have one profile that is seen during business hours and another that is seen in social situations. NameTag can make the big, anonymous world we live in as friendly as a small town."
But is the app really about connecting people who want to be connected?
Rather than asking users to opt-in to allow their information to be used on NameTag, the company automatically uses publicly available information unless people specifically opt out. They assume consent unless explicitly told otherwise. That’s a dangerous precedent to set.
Facial recognition software remains banned on Glass for now. But as Independant writer James Vincent points out, Glasses can be jailbroken -- that is, freed from manufacturer restrictions -- just like a mobile phone.
You don't see many people walking around with Google Glass on yet. With apps like NameTag being developed, that's probably a good thing.