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Top Stories for the Week of October 21, 2014

  • Episode 370
  • October 21, 2014
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Tuesday October 21, 2014


The BBC will be exposing articles removed from Google by the "Right to Be Forgotten" rule.

The BBC is going to publish a continually updated list of its articles removed from Google under the controversial "right to be forgotten" rule.

The BBC is to publish a continually updated list of its articles removed from Google under the controversial "right to be forgotten" rule.

The ruling allows people to ask Google to remove some types of information about them from its search index.

But editorial policy head David Jordan told a public meeting, hosted by Google, that the BBC felt some of its articles had been wrongly hidden.

Mr Jordan claims that the BBC had so far been notified of 46 links to articles that had been removed.

In the "next few weeks", the BBC will begin publishing the list of removed URLs it has been notified about by Google.

Mr. Jordan said greater care should be given to the public's "right to remember".


Smart Meters can be hacked to reduce your utility bill.

A pair of researchers have discovered how to hack a Smart Meter, allowing attackers to lower their utility bill, or even have someone else get billed for the usage.

Many utility companies are installing smart meters to help customers monitor and manage their power use and help them be more energy efficient.

Javier Vidal is an independent researcher who, along with Alberto Illera, has found flaws in the smart meters. He says, "we took them apart to see how they work".

What he found has raised concerns at the utility companies: smart meters can be hacked to under-report energy use. This essentially means, with a little know-how and very little scruples, you could effectively cut your electricity bill.
Attackers could use what the pair found to under-report energy use or to get someone else to pay their bill by using their ID in messages sent back to the nodes that log usage. With more work, the researchers claim it might be possible to find a way to seek out meters and cut off the power they are supplying.

Essentially, the warning is that poorly protected credentials inside the devices could let attackers take control of the gadgets.

The utility companies that deployed the meters are now improving the devices' security to help protect its network.


Offline access to Internet content is coming to areas of the world with no Internet access.

An innovative company is bringing offline access to Internet-sourced information in areas of the world with no Internet.

Can an entire library be put in your pocket? Most people would say yes. All you need is a mobile phone with access to the internet.

But what about for the many people in the world that lack internet connectivity? The answer can still be "yes", according to Syed Karim, who explained the nature of his company, Outernet, at TEDGlobal.

The business aims to address the fact that about two-thirds of the world's population still has no internet access.

He told the BBC, "When you talk about the internet, you talk about two main functions - communication and information access."

"It's the communication part that makes it so expensive."

So, Outernet focuses instead on information. The project aims to create a "core archive" of the world's most valuable knowledge, culled from websites including Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg, a collection of copyright-free e-books. This would be updated on roughly a monthly basis.

It would also provide more time-sensitive content - including news bulletins and disaster alerts - that could be updated several times an hour.

All this information would then be broadcast via satellites and picked up by equipment on the ground which in turn creates wi-fi hotspots, allowing the data to be accessed by individual smartphones and computers.

In a small village in central Africa, for example, Mr Karim said, one hotspot could provide dozens of books and other information to 300 people living close by.

Mr Karim said the system was currently capable of broadcasting 200MB of data per day, but his intention is to increase that to 100GB or more.

He said, "We want to use as much existing technology and repurpose it a bit, so that people buy as little stuff as possible."

Mark Newman from the technology research firm Ovum believes the idea to be an interesting one, but expresses concern over literacy issues. He says, "Delivery by audio rather than text would be something to look at, but that would use up more data."

While companies like Facebook hope to bring the Internet to these areas, Mr Karim believes, that broadcasting data offline could be a better way to bypass censorship and to distribute knowledge.

We checked, and his conviction is legit: Outernet even allows you to download the entire archive directly from their web site, outernet.is.


A proof-of-concept worm has demonstrated that an attacker could take control of home data storage.

A malicious worm that can roam the net seeking data stored on insecure hardware has been created by a security researcher.

A malicious worm that can roam the net seeking data stored on insecure hardware has been created by a security researcher.

The proof-of-concept worm was written to illustrate how vulnerable these data stores are to malicious attack.

The worm can exploit the many bugs researcher Jacob Holcomb found in popular home data storage systems.

Already, he said, there was evidence cybercriminals had noticed how easy it was to exploit these data stores.

Mr Holcomb started work on the worm after carrying out a series of tests on Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems made by 10 separate manufacturers.

Many people connect these devices to a home router to give family members a place to put important files such as photos and films or to act as a back-up for other gadgets. Some home routers can also connect to hard drives to turn them into an NAS-type device.

Mr Holcomb's investigation revealed 30 separate undocumented vulnerabilities in the NAS devices. Many of these, if exploited, would give an attacker complete control over a device letting them plunder the data on it, or use it as a way to get at other devices on that home network and spy on what people did online.

Most of the exploitable problems he found were in the web-based interface typically used to administer these devices.


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