Top Stories for the Week of August 15, 2018

  • Episode 569
  • August 15, 2018
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday August 15, 2018

In what could be called a major design fail, a proof-of-concept has shown that a compromized charger could be used to take control of a modern laptop.

A neat feature of many modern laptops is the ability to power them up through the USB port. Unlike the rectangular USB ports of old, the newer type—USB-C—can carry enough power to charge your machine.

That’s great news: it means you don’t need to add a separate port just for charging. And when the USB port isn’t being used for power, it can be used for something useful, like plugging in a hard drive, or your phone.

But while you and I may look at this as an improvement, hackers see an opportunity to exploit a new vulnerability.

One researcher, who goes by the name MG, has demonstrated how a Macbook charger could be booby-trapped; modified in such a way it would be possible to hijack a user's computer without them having any idea it was happening.

This is a massive concern since the ubiquitous chargers for MacBooks are seen in offices and coffee shops the world over. They're borrowed, lost and replaced on a regular basis.

MG gutted the inside of the charger and filled it with small components that are powered up when the unsuspecting victim connects it to their computer.

It’s extremely hard to detect, especially since it still charges the laptop as normal.

The hijacking device was able to insert a fake log-in screen into a website. Thus, the hacker could use this method to scoop-up whatever data the user entered into the fake site.

MG said, "In the demo we're just capturing a username and password, but this can also inject malware, root kits and persistent types of infections that could be malicious.”

While early in the testing phase, he predicts the attack would likely work on any machine that uses USB-C to get its power, saying, "In this case it’s an Apple, but it works on HP, Lenovo and a lot of others."


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

A software bug at a large US bank has resulted in hundreds of people actually losing their homes.

A flaw in a US bank's computer software led to 625 customers not receiving government loan assistance to which they were entitled—and 400 of those lost their homes as a result.

The government scheme was designed to help people struggling to pay their mortgages.

Wells Fargo, which is the third largest bank in the US, said there was no "clear direct cause-and-effect relationship" between the error and the loss of homes. However, compensation is being offered, negating that claim.

The bank has set aside $8m to compensate those affected by the software error, which existed between April 2010 and October 2015.

Wells Fargo revealed the information in its latest quarterly financial report and said there were continuing efforts to identify other customers who might also have been affected.

In April 2018, it was fined $1bn by two US regulators to resolve investigations into car insurance and mortgage lending breaches.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

Nintendo is suing retro game ROM distributors.

In a lawsuit filed in late July by Nintendo of America against two ROM distributing websites, the company states that the sites are “built almost entirely on the brazen and mass-scale infringement of Nintendo’s intellectual property rights.” Those who run the sites though, have a different story.

By law, Nintendo is well within their rights to defend their property when someone else is distributing it without permission. What the lawsuit doesn’t touch on, however, according to those who run these sites, is the value that they have when it comes to the preservation of older video games.

A ROM is essentially a copy of the video game software that can run on a computer with the help of an emulation program. Emulators like those provided in RetroPie are legal as they don’t actually offer the games themselves, just a way to play them. People can also legally “dump” their games in order to play them on the emulator, as long as they own a physical copy. Distributing those dumped ROMs however, is the illegal part.

The lawsuit, which asks for $150,000 for each game ROM that was hosted on the site and $2 million for infringing on the trademark, has caused other sites to disable access to their ROM library.

One such site is EmuParadise. Founded in 2000, the site’s goal, according to the founder, has been the preservation of old games to give people the opportunity to enjoy the favourites of their youths. The site’s founder, who goes by the username MasJ, says the consequences now far outweigh the benefits when it comes to hosting ROMs.

Video game preservation has always been a tough beast. In the early 1980s there were more video games than people playing them, causing a crash in the market. A large portion of the games released at that time were lost as companies folded and their archives were deleted. Now, when a copy of an old game is found, people upload the game data to sites like EmuParadise in order to preserve the games on them.

Video game companies have begun to copy the "Netflix formula" for retro game preservation, though it’s a slow process. For example, Playstation has begun to make older games available through their Playstation Now streaming service, and Nintendo will soon be implementing Nintendo Switch Online, which will open up a library of retro games to stream to the Switch console.


Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson

Patrick Stewart is returning to Star Trek with a new series focused on the next chapter of Captain Picard's life.

Sir Patrick Stewart will reprise his iconic role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a new Star Trek series for CBS All Access.

Stewart made the announcement at a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, noting that when he filmed Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002, he felt that his “time with Star Trek had run its natural course." In a followup statement, he said, "It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him.”

Stewart first took on the role of the iconic Star Trek captain in 1987, and remained on the show over the duration of its seven-year run through 1994, and starred in the four films that followed it — Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was the long-awaited follow-up to the original Star Trek series of the 1960s, and is set in 2364, 99 years after the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise.

This new show won’t be a reboot, but rather an exploration of “the next chapter of Picard’s life.” At the convention, Stewart indicated that none of the scripts for the show have been written yet, and that it “will be something very different but it will come to you with the same passion.”

Kurtzman will oversee the show, and will be assisted by Star Trek: Discovery executive producer James Duff, former Discovery executive producer Akiva Goldsman, writer Michael Chabon, and Discovery writer Kirsten Beyer.

No word yet on when the new series will begin.


Sent to us by: Orangeman


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