Tech Today w/ Ken May

Featured entries

Hackers Steal $31 Million at Russia’s Central Bank

Posted by kenmay on December - 3 - 2016

The Bank of Russia has confirmed Friday that hackers have stolen 2 billion rubles ($31 million) from correspondent accounts at the Russian central bank. Central bank security executive Artiom Sychev said it could’ve been much worse as hackers tried to steal 5 billion rubles, but the central banking authority managed to stop them. CNNMoney reports: Hackers also targeted the private banks and stole cash from their clients, the central bank reported. The central bank did not say when the heist occurred or how hackers moved the funds. But so far, the attack bears some similarity to a recent string of heists that has targeted the worldwide financial system. Researchers at the cybersecurity firm Symantec have concluded that the global banking system has been under sustained attack from a sophisticated group — dubbed “Lazarus” — that has been linked to North Korea. But it’s unclear who has attacked Russian banks this time around. Earlier Friday, the Russian government claimed it had foiled an attempt to erode public confidence in its financial system. Russian’s top law enforcement agency, the FSB, said hackers were planning to use a collection of computer servers in the Netherlands to attack Russian banks. Typically, hackers use this kind of infrastructure to launch a “denial of service” attack, which disrupts websites and business operations by flooding a target with data. The FSB said hackers also planned to spread fake news about Russian banks, sending mass text messages and publishing stories on social media questioning their financial stability and licenses to operate. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

20-year-old Lan Cai was in a car crash this summer, after she was plowed into by a drunk driver and broke two bones in her lower back. She didn’t know how to navigate her car insurance and prove damages, so she reached out for legal help. Things didn’t go as one would have liked, initially, as ArsTechnica documents:The help she got, Cai said, was less than satisfactory. Lawyers from the Tuan A. Khuu law firm ignored her contacts, and at one point they came into her bedroom while Cai was sleeping in her underwear. “Seriously, it’s super unprofessional!” she wrote on Facebook. (The firm maintains it was invited in by Cai’s mother.) She also took to Yelp to warn others about her bad experience. The posts led to a threatening e-mail from Tuan Khuu attorney Keith Nguyen. Nguyen and his associates went ahead and filed that lawsuit, demanding the young woman pay up between $100, 000 and $200, 000 — more than 100 times what she had in her bank account. Nguyen said he didn’t feel bad at all about suing Cai. Cai didn’t remove her review, though. Instead she fought back against the Khuu firm, all thanks to attorney Michael Fleming, who took her case pro bono. Fleming filed a motion arguing that, first and foremost, Cai’s social media complaints were true. Second, she couldn’t do much to damage the reputation of a firm that already had multiple poor reviews. He argued the lawsuit was a clear SLAPP (strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). Ultimately, the judge agreed with Fleming, ordering the Khuu firm to pay $26, 831.55 in attorneys’ fees. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

When a 17-foot tall wooden sculpture was installed in the FBI’s Miami field office in 2015, the government thought it was getting a great deal. The General Services Administration (GSA) commissioned the work and estimated that it was “likely worth more than the $750, 000 the government paid.” But it’s currently sitting… Read more…

We Just Found Out There Are ‘Bees’ in the Sea

Posted by kenmay on December - 2 - 2016

In case you thought we’d figured out life in the oceans even a little bit, a new study published in Nature Communications sets the record straight. For the first time, scientists have found experimental evidence of underwater pollination. There are bees in the sea—or at least creatures that perform the same kind of… Read more…

Foxconn Employee Steals 5,700 iPhones Before Getting Caught

Posted by kenmay on December - 2 - 2016

We’ve all stolen things from work—pencils, pens, maybe a notebook—but this Foxconn employee went a little too far. According to AsiaOne , a former senior manager at the world’s largest electronics maker and assembler was charged with stealing and selling 5, 700 iPhones for a value of about $1.56 million. Read more…

Enlarge / Courtroom 1 in the René Davidson Courthouse, part of the Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California. (credit: Cyrus Farivar) OAKLAND, Calif.—Most pieces of software don’t have the power to get someone arrested—but Tyler Technologies’ Odyssey Case Manager does. This is the case management software that runs on the computers of hundreds and perhaps even thousands of court clerks and judges in county courthouses across the US. (Federal courts use an entirely different system.) Typically, when a judge makes a ruling—for example, issuing or rescinding a warrant—those words said by a judge in court are entered into Odyssey. That information is then relied upon by law enforcement officers to coordinate arrests and releases and to issue court summons. (Most other courts, even if they don’t use Odyssey, use a similar software system from another vendor.) But, just across the bay from San Francisco, Alameda County’s deputy public defender, Jeff Chorney, says that since the county switched from a decades-old computer system to Odyssey in August, dozens of defendants have been wrongly arrested or jailed. Others have even been forced to register as sex offenders unnecessarily. “I understand that with every piece of technology, bugs have to be worked out,” he said, practically exasperated. “But we’re not talking about whether people are getting their paychecks on time. We’re talking about people being locked in cages, that’s what jail is. It’s taking a person and locking them in a cage.” Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ransomware, malware that enables attackers to disable systems or encrypt your data until you pay them , is on the rise. If you’ve become the victim of an attack, these four decryption tools might save the day. Read more…

Nestle and its scientists have discovered how to “structure sugar differently” to reduce the amount of sugar in some of its products by 40%. What’s more is that it can be done reportedly without compromising the taste. The Guardian reports: The new process is said to make sugar dissolve faster so that even when less is used, the tongue perceives an identical level of sweetness. It plans to patent the process, discovered by its scientists, which it says will enable it to significantly decrease the total sugar in its confectionery products. A four-finger milk chocolate Kit Kat currently contains 23.8g of sugar, a plain (milk chocolate) Yorkie contains 26.9g and a medium peppermint Aero has 24.9g of sugar. If the amount of sugar in each of these products was cut by 40% the new amounts would be 14.3g, 16.1g and 14.9g respectively. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Man attempts to sharpen a dollar-store kitchen knife

Posted by kenmay on December - 2 - 2016

Using Japanese sharpening stones of various grits and considerable prices, Junskitchen set out to try and make an edge of a $1 kitchen knife. The results are impressive—but how long will they last? [1,000 and 6,000] grits would be enough for a normal household knife. I used grits 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 8,000, and 12,000 in this video. The higher the number, the finer the sanding and the sharper the knife will be.

Enlarge / Avalanche once hosted ransomware that spoofed messages from law enforcement. Now, a team of 40 law enforcement agencies has shut it down. (credit: Symantec) A botnet that has served up phishing attacks and at least 17 different malware families to victims for much of this decade has been taken down in a coordinated effort by an international group of law enforcement agencies and security firms. Law enforcement officials seized command and control servers and took control of more than 800,000 Internet domains used by the botnet, dubbed “Avalanche,” which has been in operation in some form since at least late 2009. “The operation involves arrests and searches in five countries,” representatives of the FBI and US Department of Justice said in a joint statement issued today. “More than 50 Avalanche servers worldwide were taken offline.” The domains seized have been “sinkholed” to terminate the operation of the botnet, which is estimated to have spanned over hundreds of thousands of compromised computers around the world. The Justice Department’s Office for the Western Federal District of Pennsylvania and the FBI’s Pittsburgh office led the US portion of the takedown. “The monetary losses associated with malware attacks conducted over the Avalanche network are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide, although exact calculations are difficult due to the high number of malware families present on the network,” the FBI and DOJ said in their joint statement. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments