Top Stories for the Week of November 25, 2014

  • Episode 375
  • November 25, 2014
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Tuesday November 25, 2014


A Russian website is exploiting weak passwords for Internet-connected cameras and streaming them to their users.

A Russian web site is streaming hacked webcam video from surveillance cameras, baby monitors and even webcams on people's bedroom computers.

Authorities have discovered a Russian website that is streaming videos from more than 100 hacked places around the world. The site is streaming footage of a baby playing in South Korea, an empty crib from Absecon, New Jersey or cattle feeding in a small town in Austria. The Russian website is streaming live footage from people’s bedrooms, shops, office buildings, Laundromats barns and stables. How is this possible?

The experts are warning everyone with a webcam, home security camera or a baby monitor that they need to change the default password into a personal password, one that is hard to get hacked.

The Russian website takes advantage of the fact that the users who have recently acquired a camera use the default passwords to get the devices work. Passwords like “1234” are the most common and hackers can guess them easily. There are also many camera manufacturers that put the default passwords online. The users go on that site, get the passwords but they do not change it into something else after first logging in. The Britain Information Commissioner’s Office advises everyone to change the default password after getting a new video device like a camera, otherwise they might risk being streamed online on the Russian website.

Authorities said that they have no legal power in Russia so they cannot close the website, therefore it’s better to just warn people to change their passwords.

However, as of yesterday, the administrator of the site appears to have voluntarily closed it down. The site now reads "Programmer looking for a good remote job", along with a list of skills and an email address.


Pirated CMS plugins and themes are being used to distribute a powerful backdoor to web servers.

Hackers are distributing pirated copies of popular plugins and themes for Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal, but what they've hidden under the hood could compromize thousands of web servers.

Security researchers have discovered thousands of backdoored plugins and themes for the top content management systems that could be used by attackers to compromise web servers on a large scale.

The Netherlands-based security firm Fox-IT has published a whitepaper revealing a new Backdoor named "CryptoPHP." Security researchers have uncovered malicious plugins and themes for WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. However, there is a slight relief for Drupal users, as only themes are found to be infected from CryptoPHP backdoor.

In order to victimize site administrators, miscreants makes use of a simple social engineering trick: they lure site admins to download pirated versions of commercial plugins and themes for free. The malicious theme or plugin includes the backdoor which would now be installed on the admins’ server.

The backdoor can be controlled by cyber criminals using various options such as command and control server communication, email communication and manual control as well.

The exact number of websites affected by the backdoor is undetermined, but the company estimates that at least a few thousand websites or possibly more are compromised.


Sick of staring at a tiny iPhone screen? Why not turn your iPhone into a virtual reality headset for only $100?

Turn your iPhone into a VR headset for just $100. That's what a Toronto-based company is offering as a feature of their incredible up-and-coming iPhone case.

Samsung's Gear VR isn't the only device looking to bring mobile virtual reality to the masses. Toronto-based agency Cordon Media is building Pinch, an iPhone 6 and 6 Plus case that turns Apple's smartphone into an immersive VR headset for shopping and surfing the web. Pinch has launched a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo and is expected to ship in June for just $100.

While it looks like little more than a thick iPhone 6 shell at first glance, Pinch unfolds into a slick pair of virtual reality goggles that uses your iPhone as its display. The headset includes two motion-sensing rings, which, when used with the free Pinch app, allow you to interact with virtual objects using hand gestures.

This headset is designed less for gamers and more for a mainstream audience that wants new ways to shop and use apps.

Pinch has the potential to rival Samsung's $200 Gear VR, an Oculus-developed headset that syncs with the Galaxy Note 4 to provide virtual reality content from partners like Marvel, Cirque du Soleil and Temple Run.

While Pinch is built specifically for iPhone, it has the advantage of being able to fold into your pocket ... and it costs about half the price of Samsung's product.


BlackBerry is attempting to convince iPhone users to make the switch by offering them cash monies.

Would you trade in your iPhone for a BlackBerry Passport? What if BlackBerry sweetened the deal by giving you $550 to make the switch?

BlackBerry is trying to convince iPhone owners to switch to its Passport smartphone by throwing in a financial incentive.

The promotion, which starts Monday, promises as much as $550 to iPhone owners who trade in their handsets in favor of BlackBerry's Passport. The actual trade-in value depends on the iPhone, with the iPhone 4S worth up to $90 and the iPhone 6 worth up to $400. BlackBerry then sweetens the deal by kicking in an additional $150 as a topper for each iPhone.

The iPhone 6 Plus is not eligible.

The deal will run through February 13, but it's good only in North America. Customers must buy an unlocked Passport phone--which will cost between $600 to $700--through either BlackBerry's website or Amazon. The trade-in amount comes in the form of a Visa prepaid card.

BlackBerry has lost not just market share but confidence among consumers that it can survive and thrive as a mobile phone maker.


Google is testing an option for web site visitors to turn off ads by paying a small fee.

If you could turn off all the ads on a web site you frequent for just $1, would you do it? Google is willing to give it a try.

Google has unveiled a project that offers web users the option to pay to visit sites rather than see adverts.

Dubbed Contributor, users can pay a monthly fee of between $1 to $3 for ad-free sites.

When those who have paid their subscriptions visit a participating site they will see pixelated patterns replacing the adverts.

It has so far signed up a handful of websites, including ScienceDaily and Urban Dictionary, to test the system.

Others in the current trial include WikiHow, Mashable and Imgur.

Access to the service is currently by invitation only and interested websites can sign up to be on the waiting list at contributor.google.com


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