Apple Sues Canadian Recycling Firm for Reselling 100,000 Devices Instead of Destroying Them

Found on iPhone in Canada on Saturday, 10 October 2020
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Apple is seeking $31 million from GEEP, plus proceeds made from selling iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches.

“At least 11,766 pounds of Apple devices left GEEP’s premises without being destroyed – a fact that GEEP itself confirmed. These misappropriated devices were then subsequently sold at a significantly higher price than other recycled materials to downstream vendors who refurbished and resold the devices to consumers,” explains Apple’s suit, filed in January.

So that is what Apple thinks of the environment: people should buy new products instead of repaired ones. This is another reason why they will forever stay on the "Do not buy" list.

When Coffee Machines Demand Ransom, You Know IoT Is Screwed

Found on Wired on Tuesday, 06 October 2020
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As a thought experiment, Martin Hron, a researcher at the security company Avast, reverse engineered one of the older coffee makers to see what kinds of hacks he could do with it. After just a week of effort, the unqualified answer was: quite a lot. Specifically, he could trigger the coffee maker to turn on the burner, dispense water, spin the bean grinder, and display a ransom message, all while beeping repeatedly. Oh, and by the way, the only way to stop the chaos was to unplug the power cord.

“The lifespan of a typical fridge is 17 years, how long do you think vendors will support software for its smart functionality?”

IoT is a load of junk. Most devices are of low-quality, buggy, harmful to the environment and sometimes downright dangerous. Consumers better think twice if they really need such spyware in their homes.

Microsoft's underwater data centre resurfaces after two years

Found on BBC News on Saturday, 19 September 2020
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When the container was hauled off the seabed around half a mile offshore after being placed there in May 2018, just eight out of the 855 servers on board had failed.

The team is speculating that the greater reliability may be connected to the fact that there were no humans on board, and that nitrogen rather than oxygen was pumped into the capsule.

Underwater data centres might sound an outlandish idea. But David Ross, who has been a consultant to the data centre industry for many years, says the project has great potential.

It sure sound amazing, but being unable to have a quick access in case of a simple mistake gives an uneasy feeling.

GM Can Manage an EV's Batteries Wirelessly—and Remotely

Found on IEEE Spectrum on Monday, 14 September 2020
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IEEE Spectrum got an exclusive look at General Motors’ wireless battery management system. It’s a first in any EV anywhere (not even Tesla has one).

Unlike today’s battery modules, which link up to an on-board management system through a tangle of orange wiring, GM’s system features RF antennas integrated on circuit boards.

Really now? Going full wireless in a car to avoid some cables? Given how unreliable wireless transmissons can be, that's a really ridiculous idea and a reason not to buy such a car (which generally have too many PCBs already).

Kids' Smartwatches Are a Security Nightmare Despite Years of Warnings

Found on Wired on Sunday, 13 September 2020
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In a paper published late last month, researchers at the Münster University of Applied Sciences in Germany detailed their testing of the security of six brands of smartwatches marketed for kids. They're designed to send and receive voice and text messages, and let parents track their child's location from a smartphone app. The researchers found that hackers could abuse those features to track a target child's location using the watch's GPS in five out of the six brands of watch they tested. Several of the watches had even more severe vulnerabilities, allowing hackers to send voice and text messages to children that appear to come from their parents, to intercept communications between parents and children, and even to record audio from a child's surroundings and eavesdrop on them.

Most IoT devices suffer from serious security problems; no matter if kids or adults use them. So don't concentrate on a specific group, but fix the problem itself for everybody.

Doorbell Cameras Like Ring Give Early Warning of Police Searches, FBI Warned

Found on The Intercept on Wednesday, 02 September 2020
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According to a leaked FBI bulletin, law enforcement has discovered an ironic downside to ubiquitous privatized surveillance: The cameras are alerting residents when police show up to conduct searches.

Sometimes the police are the unannounced, unwanted visitor: “Subjects likely use IoT devices to hinder LE [law enforcement] investigations and possibly monitor LE activity,” the bulletin states. “If used during the execution of a search, potential subjects could learn of LE’s presence nearby, and LE personnel could have their images captured, thereby presenting a risk to their present and future safety.”

Well that took them long enough to realize that.

Yet Another Study Shows U.S. 5G Is Far Slower Than Many Other Nations

Found on Techdirt on Tuesday, 01 September 2020
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U.S. regulators failed to make mid-band spectrum (which offers faster speeds at greater range) widely available, many U.S. wireless carriers like Verizon embraced higher millimeter wave spectrum (which has trouble with range and building wall penetration) or low-band spectrum (which offers greater range but at notably reduced speeds).

Companies like Verizon advertise 5G as a near-mystical panacea that's capable of revolutionizing everything from smart cities to cancer treatment, even though a closer examination usually shows that's simply not true.

5G is just buzzword bingo.

An Alexa Bug Could Have Exposed Your Voice History to Hackers

Found on Wired on Saturday, 22 August 2020
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Findings published on Thursday by the security firm Check Point reveal that Alexa's web services had bugs that a hacker could have exploited to grab a target's entire voice history, meaning their recorded audio interactions with Alexa.

Check Point's Vanunu says that the attack he and his colleagues discovered was nuanced, and that it's not surprising Amazon didn't catch it on its own given the scale of the company's platforms. But the findings offer a valuable reminder for users to think about the data they store in their various web accounts and to minimize it as much as possible.

Just don't let a bug into your house.

Boeing 747s receive critical software updates over 3.5" floppy disks

Found on The Register on Thursday, 13 August 2020
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Boeing 747-400s still use floppy disks for loading critical navigation databases, Pen Test Partners has revealed to the infosec community after poking about one of the recently abandoned aircraft.

"This database has to be updated every 28 days, so you can see how much of a chore this has to be for an engineer to visit," Lomas said, pointing out the floppy drive – which in normal operations is tucked away behind a locked panel.

So what? It seems to work and it is much more secure than having the plane join some wireless network, or rely on someone plugging a USB stick in that comes with preinstalled malware, or even causes physical damage.

Adverts for large polluting cars 'should be banned'

Found on BBC News on Monday, 03 August 2020
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A new campaign called "Badvertising" is demanding an immediate end to adverts for large polluting cars.

The authors want to outlaw advertising for cars with average emissions of over 160g CO2/km, and those exceeding 4.8m in length.

Would an ad ban work, though? Steve Gooding, from the RAC Foundation, said: "People spending £70,000 on a new car are probably not swayed much by ads – they’re attracted to the prestige brand. I suspect banning adverts wouldn’t make a great deal of difference."

You don't take over a market by outlawing your competitor, you do it by offering a better product; and it seems like electric cars are not appealing the majority yet.