Top Stories for week of February 9, 2016

  • Episode 438
  • February 9, 2016
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Tuesday February 9, 2016


A GPS error caused 12 hours of problems for a number of companies.

A GPS error caused 12 hours of problems for a number of companies.

Several companies were hit by hours of system warnings after 15 GPS satellites broadcast the wrong time, according to time-monitoring company Chronos.

The company observed problems last week, after noticing some GPS time signals were 13 microseconds out.

Such a discrepancy is considered severe and several Chronos telecoms clients faced "12 hours" of system errors.
Previously, the GPS errors had also been blamed for disturbances with BBC radio broadcasts.

According to the US Air Force (USAF), which manages the GPS satellite network, problems began when a satellite named SVN 23 was decommissioned.

A USAF spokeswoman confirmed that the error had been pushed to the satellites by "ground system software".

Chronos chief executive Prof Charles Curry said telecom companies relied on the accuracy of time measurements to control the flow of data through their networks.

The bits and bytes of a telephone call, for example, might be synchronised based on the time as reported by GPS satellite signals.

And when the 13 microsecond error had been detected, it resulted in thousands of system warnings being activated at some companies.

The USAF says that while the software issue is still resident in the ground system, 2nd Space Operations Squadron has implemented procedures to ensure the issue does not reoccur.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


All your iPhones are belong to us! The latest update for iPhone 6 is rendering phones inoperable if they were serviced by a 3rd party.

The latest update for iPhone 6 is rendering phones inoperable if they were serviced by a 3rd party.

The latest software update for iPhone 6 handsets is rendering the devices useless if it detects repairs not carried out by Apple.

The problem is known as "error 53" and has appeared in Apple products before.

The Guardian reports that users' phones were disabled after the Touch ID home button was repaired by a non-Apple engineer.

Apple has confirmed that the error message is a "security measure" taken to prevent fraudulent transactions.

Apple advises that if a customer encounters error 53, they are encouraged to contact Apple Support.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


A social engineering hack on the US' Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security is being downplayed.

A social engineering hack on the US' Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security is being downplayed.

US authorities have acknowledged a data breach affecting the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security - but downplayed its severity.

A hacker, or hacking group, published via Twitter what they said were records of 9,000 Homeland Security employees.

According to technology news site Motherboard, the hacker has said he will soon share the personal information of 20,000 Department of Justice employees, including staff at the FBI.

The news site said it had verified small portions of the breach, but also noted that some of the details listed appeared to be incorrect or possibly outdated.

In a statement, Homeland Security told journalists: "We take these reports very seriously, however there is no indication at this time that there is any breach of sensitive or personally identifiable information."

The Department of Justice also downplayed the breach's significance.

The hacker is understood to have used simple human engineering to bypass one stage of the authorities' security systems.

Motherboard quoted the hacker, who explained: "So I called up, told them I was new and I didn't understand how to get past [the portal].

"They asked if I had a token code, I said no, they said that's fine - just use ours."

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Watch where you fly your drone! A man is being charged for crashing into the Empire State Building after a police officer told him it was okay to fly there.

Watch where you fly your drone! A man is being charged for crashing into the Empire State Building after a police officer told him it was okay to fly there.

A man charged with crashing a drone into the Empire State Building claims that a policeman had told him it was "fine" to fly there.

Police say a drone hit the New York skyscraper's 40th floor and then fell on to a ledge five levels lower.

Sean Riddle was charged with reckless endangerment and illegal navigation of an aircraft in and over the city.

The man also blames a year-old news article for its misleading information.

He said in a Tweet, "All I wanted was to shoot five seconds of video to promote a non-profit".

"I asked a cop 20 minutes before I did it. He said it was fine.

"Aside from asking a cop, I went to this website: Where to fly a drone in New York City, legally."

However, US drone owners are being urged to consult the Know Before You Fly website, backed by drone makers and the Federal Aviation Administration, which shows the Empire State Building and much of the rest of Manhattan has been designated as a restricted zone because of its heliports and helipads.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


The new USB-C cables could potentially fry your device. Stick around--I'll tell you what you need to watch out for when choosing your cable.

The new USB-C cables could potentially fry your device.

The gadget world is slowly adopting a new power cord standard called USB Type-C. They're small, multipurpose, universal, reversible and might fry whatever gadget you plug them into.

The advantage of the new standard is that USB-C isn't owned by any one company. That means anyone can make them for cheap. The disadvantage: They might wreak havoc.

Cheap power cords are nothing new. You can get cords that meet the old micro-USB standard for smartphones for a couple bucks on Amazon.

But the new USB-C cords are capable of supplying way more power to a gadget than micro-USB. If you charge your smartphone by plugging your USB-C cord into your laptop, a faulty cord could drain far more power from your laptop than your computer is designed to supply, destroying it -- and your smartphone -- in an instant.

The cords are supposed to recognize what kind of device they're sucking power from. If the USB-C cord senses it's plugged into a wall socket, it should crank up the juice. If it's plugged into a laptop, it should sip power.

That's not what happened to Google engineer Benson Leung. While testing a 3M USB-C cord, his $1,500 laptop turned into a very expensive piece of toast. The cord had been wired incorrectly.

Mr. Leung has since taken it upon himself to take the manufacturers to task, reviewing several of the cords with the hopes of preventing it happening to someone else.

Based on his research, buying more expensive cables is generally a good idea. But an expensive cord doesn't necessarily mean that your gadgets will be safe. And blindly spending extra money on a power cord a pretty dopey way to ensure that your laptop and phone aren't going to be destroyed.

The good news is that the USB-C standards-setting group, the USB Implementers Forum, is issuing a seal of approval for safe USB-C cords. Since those logos don't show up anywhere on Amazon's website, your safest bet might be buying cords at a physical store, where you can see the logo on the box, or asking in the product questions section of the web site, being sure to confirm the presence of the logo on the packaging when it arrives.

Source: money.cnn.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


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