Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Snapdragon chip flaws put >1 billion Android phones at risk of data theft

August 8th, 2020
Stylized promotional image of a Qualcomm computer chip.

Enlarge (credit: Qualcomm)

A billion or more Android devices are vulnerable to hacks that can turn them into spying tools by exploiting more than 400 vulnerabilities in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip, researchers reported this week.

The vulnerabilities can be exploited when a target downloads a video or other content that’s rendered by the chip. Targets can also be attacked by installing malicious apps that require no permissions at all.

From there, attackers can monitor locations and listen to nearby audio in real time and exfiltrate photos and videos. Exploits also make it possible to render the phone completely unresponsive. Infections can be hidden from the operating system in a way that makes disinfecting difficult.

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Posted in Biz & IT, exploits, Qualcomm, snapdragon, Tech, vulnerabilities | Comments (0)

Apple won’t let Stadia or xCloud into iOS, citing App Store guidelines

August 7th, 2020
Androids only.

Enlarge / Androids only. (credit: Microsoft)

Cloud gaming is increasingly becoming a thing, one that lets you play AAA games on a device regardless of the hardware specs. If your device can stream a video, it can probably play Red Dead Redemption on Google Stadia or Halo on Microsoft's xCloud (which is now technically called "Cloud gaming (Beta) with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate"). If your device is an iPhone or iPad, though, you're out of luck. Apple says these apps violate its App Store policies and will not be allowed into Apple's walled garden.

Apple sent a statement to Business Insider:

The App Store was created to be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers. Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers.

Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store.

Apple's App Store pitch is that it has real, live humans personally review each app for safety and quality, giving users a single, trusted place to get all their apps. Apple wants to approve these games individually and let users rate them individually through the App Store. The guidelines Apple cites flatly ban showing "store-like interfaces" on a remote computer and "thin clients for cloud-based apps," which Stadia and xCloud both run afoul of.

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More than 20GB of Intel source code and proprietary data dumped online

August 6th, 2020
An Intel promotional has been modified to include the words

Enlarge (credit: Tillie Kottman)

Intel is investigating the purported leak of more than 20 gigabytes of its proprietary data and source code that a security researcher said came from a data breach earlier this year.

The data—which at the time this post went live was publicly available on BitTorrent feeds—contains data Intel makes available to partners and customers under NDA, a company spokeswoman said. Speaking on background, she said Intel officials don’t believe the data came from a network breach. She also said the company is still trying to determine how current the material is and that, so far, there is no signs the data includes any customer or personal information.

“We are investigating this situation,” company officials said in a statement. “The information appears to come from the Intel Resource and Design Center, which hosts information for use by our customers, partners and other external parties who have registered for access. We believe an individual with access downloaded and shared this data.”

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Posted in Biz & IT, Data leak, Intel, source code, Tech | Comments (0)

Google kills the Pixel 4, making it the shortest-lived Pixel ever

August 6th, 2020

The Pixel 4 is dead. That's the official confirmation that Google sent to The Verge after people noticed that the Google Store listed the phone as "out of stock." The Pixel 4 started shipping October 24, 2019, so it was available for only nine-and-a-half months.

The Verge writes:

"Google Store has sold through its inventory and completed sales of Pixel 4 [and] 4 XL,” a Google spokesperson confirms to The Verge. “For people who are still interested in buying Pixel 4 [and] 4 XL, the product is available from some partners while supplies last. Just like all Pixel devices, Pixel 4 will continue to get software and security updates for at least three years from when the device first became available on the Google Store in the US.”

The Pixel 4 had the shortest life span of any Pixel phone, only lasting half as long as the other high-end models. The Pixel 1, 2, and 3 were all for sale for around 18 months. The midrange Pixel 3a, had a similarly short lifespan and was discontinued after about 13 months of sales.

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Sony takes on Bose with new WH-1000XM4 noise-cancelling headphones

August 6th, 2020

Sony on Thursday announced its latest flagship pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones: the WH-1000XM4. The new over-ear cans are the follow-up to Sony's WH-1000XM3, which have been widely regarded as being among the best premium pairs of noise-cancelling headphones on the market—and have been an Ars favorite—since launching in 2018.

The XM4 is available for pre-order starting today, with shipping to start sometime in "mid-August," according to Sony. The headphones cost $350, which is the same price as the XM3 at launch and Bose's competing QuietComfort 35 II, but $50 less than Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

I've had the XM4 on hand for the past couple of days; I plan to have a more detailed comparison in the near future, but for now I can share some initial impressions alongside today's news.

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Posted in noise-cancelling headphones, Sony, Sony WH-1000XM4, Tech, wireless headphones | Comments (0)

Review: Odyssey X86J4105, a mini-PC for makers and builders

August 6th, 2020

Today we're going to take a look at Seeed Studio's Odyssey X86J4105—a maker/builder-tailored, Celeron-powered mini-PC. The little device seems like what you'd get if a Chromebox and a Raspberry Pi made sweet, sweet love—it's a Celeron-powered all-in-one system-on-chip (SoC) board, sold without a case, with Raspberry Pi-compatible GPIO headers and an Arduino coprocessor for more hardware-based maker projects.

I have a confession to make: I've never really loved the Raspberry Pi. Heresy, I know! But despite how seriously cheap the much-loved little boxes are, they never seem quite powerful enough for the projects I'd be interested in tackling. On occasion, I've flirted with other ARM mini-PCs that are a little more expensive and a lot more powerful—like Odroid XU4, or the newer Odroid N2—but they still felt pretty constrained compared to even budget x86 PCs. The Odyssey seems tailor-made to address those performance concerns.

Specifications and capabilities

Specs at a glance: Odyssey X86J4105
OS Windows 10 Enterprise (activated)
CPU Quad-core Celeron J4105
RAM 8GiB LPDDR4
GPU integrated Intel UHD 600
Wi-Fi Dual-band Intel 9650 Wi-Fi 5 + Bluetooth 5.0
SSD Sandisk 64GB (59.6GiB) eMMC
Connectors
  • 40-pin Raspberry Pi-compatible GPIO
  • 28-pin Arduino header
  • 3.5mm audio combo jack
  • 2x Intel I211 1Gbps Ethernet
  • 1x SATA
  • 2x M.2 (1 B-key, 1 M-key)
  • 2x USB2 type-A
  • 1x USB3.1 type-A
  • 1x USB 3.1 type-C
  • 1x MicroSD card slot
  • 1x SIM (LTE) slot
  • 1x 12-19VDC power
Price as tested Odyssey with activated Win10 Enterprise: $258
Seeed re_computer case: $20

Odyssey's quad-core Celeron SoC might not be a powerhouse by desktop standards—but it's more than powerful enough to run a full Windows 10 desktop experience. Add in 8GiB of RAM, 64GB eMMC storage, one SATA-III port, two 1Gbps Ethernet jacks, dual M.2 slots (one B-key and one M-key), Intel 9560 Wi-Fi, Intel UHD 600 graphics and a full-size HDMI port, and it's hard to figure out what this $260 box can't do.

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Here’s why Apple believes it’s an AI leader—and why it says critics have it all wrong

August 6th, 2020

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) now permeate nearly every feature on the iPhone, but Apple hasn't been touting these technologies like some of its competitors have. I wanted to understand more about Apple's approach , so I spent an hour talking with two Apple executives about the company's strategy—and the privacy implications of all the new features based on AI and ML.

Historically, Apple has not had a public reputation for leading in this area. That's partially because people associate AI with digital assistants, and reviewers frequently call Siri less useful than Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. And with ML, many tech enthusiasts say that more data means better models—but Apple is not known for data collection in the same way as, say, Google.

Despite this, Apple has included dedicated hardware for machine learning tasks in most of the devices it ships. Machine intelligence-driven functionality increasingly dominates the keynotes where Apple executives take the stage to introduce new features for iPhones, iPads, or the Apple Watch. The introduction of Macs with Apple silicon later this year will bring many of the same machine intelligence developments to the company's laptops and desktops, too.

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Posted in AI, apple, Artificial intelligence, CoreML, deep learning, Features, iOS, John Giannandrea, machine intelligence, machine learning, Neural Engine, Tech | Comments (0)

Insecure satellite Internet is threatening ship and plane safety

August 5th, 2020
Insecure satellite Internet is threatening ship and plane safety

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

More than a decade has passed since researchers demonstrated serious privacy and and security holes in satellite-based Internet services. The weaknesses allowed attackers to snoop on and sometimes tamper with data received by millions of users thousands of miles away. You might expect that in 2020—as satellite Internet has grown more popular—providers would have fixed those shortcomings, but you’d be wrong.

In a briefing delivered on Wednesday at the Black Hat security conference online, researcher and Oxford Ph.D. candidate James Pavur presented findings that show that satellite-based Internet is putting millions of people at risk, despite providers adopting new technologies that are supposed to be more advanced.

Over the course of several years, he has used his vantage point in mainland Europe to intercept the signals of 18 satellites beaming Internet data to people, ships, and planes in a 100 million-square-kilometer swath that stretches from the United States, Caribbean, China, and India. What he found is concerning. A small sampling of the things he observed include:

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Posted in Biz & IT, encryption, hacking, Internet, Policy, satellite, Tech | Comments (0)

Zoombomber crashes court hearing on Twitter hack with Pornhub video

August 5th, 2020
Illustration with two birds on a branch with a fake logo that says

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Zoombombers today disrupted a court hearing involving the Florida teen accused of masterminding a takeover of high-profile Twitter accounts, forcing the judge to stop the hearing. "During the hearing, the judge and attorneys were interrupted several times with people shouting racial slurs, playing music, and showing pornographic images," ABC Action News in Tampa Bay wrote. A Pornhub video forced the judge to temporarily shut down the hearing.

The Zoombombing occurred today when the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in Tampa held a bail hearing for Graham Clark, who previously pleaded not guilty and is reportedly being held on $725,000 bail. Clark faces 30 felony charges related to the July 15 Twitter attack in which accounts of famous people like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Joe Biden were hijacked and used to push cryptocurrency scams. Hackers also accessed direct messages for 36 high-profile account holders.

Today, Judge Christopher Nash ruled against a request to lower Clark's bail amount. But before that, the judge "shut down the hearing for a short time" when arguments were interrupted by "pornography... foul language and rap music," Fox 13 reporter Gloria Gomez wrote on Twitter.

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Posted in graham clark, Policy, Tech, Twitter hack, zoombombing | Comments (0)

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 is official, comes with a ton of improvements

August 5th, 2020

Samsung Unpacked 2020 is happening today, but the star of the show, the Galaxy Z Fold 2, only got a light teasing. We got official press pictures, one or two specs, and a promise of more info on September 1. The good news is that there was also a full spec sheet leak today from XDA's Max Weinbach, and it fills in most of the blanks.

Samsung's second-generation foldable is officially the "Galaxy Z Fold 2," a slight name change from "Samsung Galaxy Fold" that puts it in the same class as Samsung's other foldable, the Galaxy Z Flip. The smartphone/tablet hybrid is very much in the mold of the Galaxy Fold 1 from last year, but it has a ton of iterative yearly upgrades and refinements.

The most noticeable upgrade is that the outer screen now fills the front of the phone. XDA's specs list the display as a 6.2-inch, 2260×816 OLED display with a crazy 25:9 aspect ratio. This is dramatically bigger than the 4.6-inch display that shipped on the Fold 1, which looked really out of place, with somewhere around a 50-percent body-to-display ratio. The new display is still very tall and skinny, but the "phone" part of the Fold 2 now looks more like a smartphone.

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