Top Stories for the Week of February 23, 2016

  • Episode 440
  • February 23, 2016
The weekly tech news from Category5 TV is provided free of charge. If you enjoy what we do, please consider becoming a Patron so we can continue offering more great content.
Support This Free Content

Here are the stories we're following for the week of Tuesday February 23, 2016

What if an ad-free Internet meant web sites were no longer free to use? That's the scenario that could occur, according to The Internet Advertising Bureau.

What if an ad-free Internet meant web sites were no longer free to use? That's the scenario that could occur, according to The Internet Advertising Bureau.

Proposals by the mobile phone provider Three to offer ad-blockers could have a negative impact on internet access, an advertising body has warned.

Three said the ad-blocker it is planning to use can block 95% of banner and pop-up ads.

The service will roll out "this year" but may not be free to use.

The mobile phone provider said its 8.8 million customers would be able to choose whether to activate the service, and Three told the BBC that it had not decided whether to charge a fee for it.

In a statement, The Internet Advertising Bureau (or, IAB) said the proposal could impact the way web platforms are funded.

Here's a quote: "The IAB believes that an ad-funded internet is essential in providing revenue to publishers so they can continue to make their content, services and applications widely available at little, or no cost. We believe ad-blocking undermines this approach and could mean consumers have to pay for content they currently get for free."


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

A home burglar with some hacking skills can disable a SimpliSafe wireless home alarm system from hundreds of feet away with a $250 piece of gear.

SimpliSafe's wireless home alarm systems can be compromized with a $250 piece of hacker gear.

A security system used in more than 200,000 homes has an unfixable flaw that allows tech-savvy burglars to disarm the alarm from as far away as a few hundred feet.

The wireless home security system from SimpliSafe is marketed as costing less than competing ones and being easier to install, since it doesn't use wires for one component to communicate with another.

But according to Andrew Zonenberg, a researcher with security firm IOActive, the system's keypad uses the same personal identification number with no encryption each time it sends a message to the main base station. That opens the system to what's known as a replay attack, in which an attacker records the authentication code sent by the valid keypad and then recycles it when sending rogue commands transmitted over the same radio frequency.

Zonenberg wrote in a blog post published last Wednesday, "Unfortunately, there is no easy workaround for the issue since the keypad happily sends unencrypted PINs out to anyone listening. Normally, the vendor would fix the vulnerability in a new firmware version by adding cryptography to the protocol. However, this is not an option for the affected SimpliSafe products because the microcontrollers in currently shipped hardware are one-time programmable. This means that field upgrades of existing systems are not possible; all existing keypads and base stations will need to be replaced."

The hack required only $250 worth of hardware to build a microcontroller and a few hundreds lines of code to make it communicate with the SimpliSafe base station. With that one-time investment out of the way, an intruder would then hide the device within a few hundred feet of the SimpliSafe base station and wait for the owner to activate or deactivate the alarm. The attacker could later replay the captured PIN along with a deactivation command to prevent the alarm from sounding during a home break in.

SimpliSafe responded by brushing the vulnerability under the carpet as irrelevant, stating "the majority of break-ins are a quick forced entry and not the sophisticated type of attack that requires diligent planning."


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

Reading an E-book on the beach? Why not charge your batteries at the same time? We'll tell you about an innovative E-Reader case that will give you up to a day's extra battery life by reading in the sun for an hour.

Reading an E-book on the beach? Why not charge your batteries at the same time?

Here's a neat idea: Paris-based Bookeen is working with SunPartner to create an e-reader cover fitted with 'invisible' solar panels.

Its makers claim that just an hour of reading in 'good light conditions' with the cover adds an extra day of battery life to the device.

The cover was unveiled last year but is now on display at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

It is made using a printed optical network combined with solar modules that recharge the e-book when exposed to sunlight.

The cover will first be available for Bookeen's own Cybook Ocean e-book in early summer 2016 before rolling out to over devices.

The price of the innovative cover is not yet known.


Facebook feels a responsibility to help their users struggling with suicidal thoughts, and are doing something about it.

Facebook feels a responsibility to help their users struggling with suicidal thoughts, and are doing something about it.

Facebook is rolling out a new feature across the UK to help users who feel suicidal.

The Suicide Prevention tool has been developed in connection with the Samaritans.

It aims to try and provide advice and support for those struggling to cope, as well as for their friends and family.
People can now report posts they are worried about in a more direct way.

Versions of the tool were launched in the US a year ago and in Australia in December.

Facebook said in a statement, "We have a really strong sense of responsibility towards the safety of people who are on our platform."

People who see explicit threats of suicide are asked to call emergency services. Otherwise people are asked to flag troubling content to Facebook.

They then send this content on to a team who work around the clock reviewing posts.

Suicidal posts are prioritised and help options are sent to those people who Facebook think are struggling to cope.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

Did you download Linux Mint on the weekend? Stop what you're doing and shut off your machine - you might have downloaded a HACKED ISO!

Beware of hacked ISOs if you downloaded Linux Mint on Saturday.

On Sunday it was disclosed that hackers created a modified Linux Mint ISO, with a backdoor in it, and managed to hack their website to point to it.

As far as their team knows, the only compromised edition was Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon edition.

The situation happened on Saturday and was quickly detected and fixed, so it should only impact people who downloaded Linux Mint edition on February 20th.

If you still have the ISO file, you can check its MD5 signature against the correct ones to be sure you're safe, and if not, we'd recommend you re-download and reinstall.

Linux Mint warns in the notice, "Delete the ISO. If you burnt it to DVD, trash the disc. If you burnt it to USB, format the stick."

They go on to say, "If you installed this ISO on a computer, Put the computer offline, Backup your personal data, Reinstall the OS or format the partition, Change your passwords for sensitive websites (for your email in particular)."


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Technology TV
Episode 664 Live:

Being Watched

Twitter Posts

Login to Category5

Error message here!

Hide Error message here!

Forgot your password?

Register on Category5

Error message here!

Error message here!

Hide Error message here!

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password.

Error message here!

Back to log-in