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Smartphone Kill Switch, Consumer Boon Or Way For Government To Brick Your Phone?

samzenpus posted 2 days ago | from the best-of-both-worlds dept.

Government 297

MojoKid writes We're often told that having a kill switch in our mobile devices — mostly our smartphones — is a good thing. At a basic level, that's hard to disagree with. If every mobile device had a built-in kill switch, theft would go down — who would waste their time over a device that probably won't work for very long? Here's where the problem lays: It's law enforcement that's pushing so hard for these kill switches. We first learned about this last summer, and this past May, California passed a law that requires smartphone vendors to implement the feature. In practice, if a smartphone has been stolen, or has been somehow compromised, its user or manufacturer would be able to remotely kill off its usability, something that would be reversed once the phone gets back into its rightful owner's hands. However, such functionality should be limited to the device's owner, and no one else. If the owner can disable a phone with nothing but access to a computer or another mobile device, so can Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia or Apple. If the designers of a phone's operating system can brick a phone, guess who else can do the same? Everybody from the NSA to your friendly neighborhood police force, that's who. At most, all they'll need is a convincing argument that they're acting in the interest of "public safety."

Your Phone Can Be Snooped On Using Its Gyroscope

Unknown Lamer posted 3 days ago | from the phone-can-be-snooped-on-by-everything dept.

Cellphones 96

stephendavion (2872091) writes Researchers will demonstrate the process used to spy on smartphones using gyroscopes at Usenix Security event on August 22, 2014. Researchers from Stanford and a defense research group at Rafael will demonstrate a way to spy on smartphones using gyroscopes at Usenix Security event on August 22, 2014. According to the "Gyrophone: Recognizing Speech From Gyroscope Signals" study, the gyroscopes integrated into smartphones were sensitive enough to enable some sound waves to be picked up, transforming them into crude microphones.

New HP Laptop Would Mean Windows at Chromebook Prices

timothy posted 3 days ago | from the is-that-a-bargain? dept.

Chrome 215

New submitter nrjperera (2669521) submits news of a new laptop from HP that's in Chromebook (or, a few years ago, "netbook") territory, price-wise, but loaded with Windows 8.1 instead. Microsoft has teamed up with HP to make an affordable Windows laptop to beat Google Chromebooks at their own game. German website Mobile Geeks have found some leaked information about this upcoming HP laptop dubbed Stream 14, including its specifications. According to the leaked data sheet the HP Stream 14 laptop will share similar specs to HP's cheap Chromebook. It will be shipped with an AMD A4 Micro processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of flash storage and a display with 1,366 x 768 screen resolution. Microsoft will likely offer 100GB of OneDrive cloud storage with the device to balance the limited storage option.

Xiaomi's Next OS Looks Strikingly Similar To iOS

samzenpus posted 4 days ago | from the imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery dept.

IOS 179

stephendavion writes Looks like Chinese device maker, Xiaomi, is taking its "Apple of the East" tag too literally. First, their CEO brazenly copies Steve Jobs' signature look, sitting cross-legged on the floor. And now, Xiaomi's latest version of Android shamelessly rips off iOS 7. MIUI 6, which is Xiaomi's upcoming edition of Android for its latest phones and tablets, looks almost exactly like Apple's operating system for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. It features the same bright color palette and a flat design. Heck, it even does away with Google's "app drawer" and puts all apps on your home screen. It's like the CEO handed iPhones to the design team and barked: "Here, copy this!"

EFF's Cell Phone Guide For US Protesters

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the do-not-use-your-cell-phone-as-a-projectile-weapon dept.

Electronic Frontier Foundation 82

An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has updated its guide for protecting yourself and your cell phone at a protest. In addition to being extremely powerful tools (real-time communication to many watchers via social media, and video recording functionality), cell phones can also give authorities a lot of information about you if they confiscate it. The EFF is trying to encourage cell phone use and prepare people to use them. (The guide is based on U.S. laws, but much of the advice makes sense for other places as well.) Here are a few small snippets: "Start using encrypted communications channels. Text messages, as a rule, can be read and stored by your phone company or by surveillance equipment in the area. ... If the police ask to see your phone, tell them you do not consent to the search of your device. Again, since the Supreme Court's decision in Riley, there is little question that officers need a warrant to access the contents of your phone incident to arrest, though they may be able to seize the phone and get a warrant later. ... If your phone or electronic device was seized, and is not promptly returned when you are released, you can file a motion with the court to have your property returned."

The Biggest iPhone Security Risk Could Be Connecting One To a Computer

timothy posted about a week ago | from the seems-an-obvious-hole dept.

IOS 72

angry tapir (1463043) writes Apple has done well to insulate its iOS mobile operating system from many security issues, but a forthcoming demonstration shows it's far from perfect. Next Wednesday at the Usenix Security Symposium in San Diego, researchers with the Georgia Institute of Technology will show how iOS's Achilles' heel is exposed when devices are connected over USB to a computer or have Wi-Fi synching enabled. The beauty of their attack is that it doesn't rely on iOS software vulnerabilities, the customary way that hackers commandeer computers. It simply takes advantage of design issues in iOS, working around Apple's layered protections to accomplish a sinister goal.

Ryan Lackey, Marc Rogers Reveal Inexpensive Tor Router Project At Def Con

timothy posted about a week ago | from the widespread-and-easy-are-tightly-linked dept.

Communications 38

An anonymous reader writes Ryan Lackey of CloudFlare and Marc Rogers of Lookout revealed a new OPSEC device at Def Con called PORTAL (Personal Onion Router to Assure Liberty). It "provides always-on Tor routing, as well as 'pluggable' transport for Tor that can hide the service's traffic signature from some deep packet inspection systems." In essence, PORTAL is a travel router that the user simply plugs into their existing device for more than basic Tor protection (counterpoint to PogoPlug Safeplug and Onion Pi). On the down side, you have to download PORTAL from Github and flash it "onto a TP-Link compatible packet router." The guys behind the device acknowledge that not many people may want to (or even know how to) do that, so they're asking everyone to standby because a solution is pending. The project's GitHub page has a README file that lists compatible models, with some caveats: "It is highly recommended to use a modified router. The modified MR11U and WR703N provide a better experience than the stock routers due to the additional RAM. The severe space constraints of the stock router make them very challenging to work with. Due to the lack of usable space, it is necessary to use an external disk to store the Tor packages. The stock router has only a single USB port, and the best option is to use a microSD in a 3G modem." (Note: Lackey is no stranger to helping people secure internet privacy.)

T-Mobile To Throttle Customers Who Use Unlimited LTE Data For Torrents/P2P

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the who-torrents-over-mobile-anyway dept.

Networking 147

New submitter User0x45 writes: Here's a nicely transparent announcement: "T-mobile has identified customers who are heavy data users and are engaged in peer-to-peer file sharing, and tethering outside of T-Mobile’s Terms and Conditions (T&C). This results in a negative data network experience for T-Mobile customers. Beginning August 17, T-Mobile will begin to address customers who are conducting activities outside of T-Mobile’s T&Cs." Obviously, it's not a good announcement for people with unlimited plans, but at least it's clear. T-mobile also pulled the backwards anti-net neutrality thing by happily announcing 'Free Streaming' from select music providers... which is, in effect, making non-select usage fee-based.

Samsung Announces Galaxy Alpha Featuring Metal Frame and Rounded Corners

Unknown Lamer posted about two weeks ago | from the strange-sense-of-deja-vu dept.

Cellphones 220

mrspoonsi (2955715) writes with word that Samsung is hopping on the metal case and rounded corners design bandwagon. From the article: Samsung says a metal frame and curved corners give the Galaxy Alpha a "sophisticated" look. The South Korean company describes the Galaxy Alpha as representing a "new design approach". The firm has previously been criticised for the plastic feel of its handsets at a time when other firms have opted to use materials marketed as having a "premium" feel. Samsung Electronics saw a 20% year-on-year drop in its last quarter's profit. The phone features 2G of RAM, a 4.7" AMOLED display, and either an 8-core Exynos 5 or 4-core Snapdragon 801.

Reversible Type-C USB Connector Ready For Production

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the it's-never-the-facing-the-right-way-on-the-first-try dept.

Cellphones 191

orasio writes: One of the most frustrating first-world problems ever (trying to connect an upside-down Micro-USB connector) could disappear soon. The Type-C connector for USB has been declared ready for production by the USB Promoter Group (PDF). "With the Type-C spec finalized, it now comes down to the USB-IF to actually implement the sockets, plugs, cables, adapters, and devices. The problem is that there are billions of existing USB devices and cables that will need adapters and new cables to work with new Type-C devices. It’s a lot like when Apple released the Lightning connector, but on an even grander scale. Further exacerbating the issue is the fact that China, the EU, and the GSMA have all agreed that new mobile devices use Micro-USB for charging — though it might be as simple as including a Micro-USB-to-Type-C adapter with every new smartphone."

China Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Apologizes For Unauthorized Data Access

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the our-bad dept.

Cellphones 64

SpzToid writes Following up an earlier story here on Slashdot, now Xiaomi has apologized for collecting private data from its customers. From the article: "Xiaomi Inc said it had upgraded its operating system to ensure users knew it was collecting data from their address books after a report by a computer security firm said the Chinese budget smartphone maker was taking personal data without permission. The privately held company said it had fixed a loophole in its cloud messaging system that had triggered the unauthorized data transfer and that the operating system upgrade had been rolled out on Sunday. The issue was highlighted last week in a blog post by security firm F-Secure Oyg. In a lengthy blogpost on Google Plus, Xiaomi Vice President Hugo Barra apologized for the unauthorized data collection and said the company only collects phone numbers in users' address books to see if the users are online."

Connected Collar Lets Your Cat Do the War-Driving

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the wifi-password-|"pl[\'as[cnp dept.

Security 110

MojoKid (1002251) writes "Security researcher Gene Bransfield, with the help of his wife's grandmother's cat, decided to see how many neighborhood WiFi access points he could map and potentially compromise. With a collar loaded with a Spark chip, a Wi-Fi module, a GPS module, and a battery, Coco the cat helped Gene identify Wi-Fi networks around the neighborhood and then reported back. The goal here is obvious: Discover all of the unsecured, or at least poorly-secured, wireless access points around the neighborhood. During his journey, Coco identified dozens of Wi-Fi networks, with four of them using easily-broken WEP security, and another four that had no security at all. Gene has dubbed his collar the "WarKitteh", and it cost him less than $100 to make. He admits that such a collar isn't a security threat, but more of a goofy hack. Of course, it could be used for shadier purposes." (Here's Wired's article on the connected cat-collar.)

NVIDIA Tegra K1: First Mobile Chip With Hardware-Accelerated OpenCL

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the bragging-rights dept.

Graphics 52

New submitter shervinemami writes (starting with a pretty big disclaimer: "I'm an Engineer at NVIDIA.") The latest CompuBench GPU benchmarks show NVIDIA's Tegra K1 running whole OpenCL algorithms around 5x faster than any other mobile device, and individual instructions around 20x faster! This huge jump is because mobile companies have been saying they support OpenCL on mobile devices since early 2013, but what they don't mention is that they only have software API support, not hardware-accelerated OpenCL running faster on their GPUs than CPUs. Now that NVIDIA's Tegra-K1 chip has started shipping in devices and thus is available for full benchmarking, it is clearly the only mobile chip that actually gives you proper hardware-accelerated OpenCL (and CUDA of course!). The K1 is also what's in Google's Project Tango 3-D mapping tablet.

Silent Circle's Blackphone Exploited at Def Con

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the outharshing-one-another dept.

Security 46

Def Con shows no mercy. As gleefully reported by sites several Blackberry-centric sites, researcher Justin Case yesterday demonstrated that he could root the much-heralded Blackphone in less than five minutes. From n4bb.com's linked report: "However, one of the vulnerabilities has already been patched and the other only exploitable with direct user consent. Nevertheless, this only further proves you cannot add layers of security on top of an underlying platform with security vulnerabilities." Case reacts via Twitter to the crowing: "Hey BlackBerry idiots, stop miss quoting me on your blogs. Your phone is only "secure" because it has few users and little value as a target."

F-Secure: Xiaomi Smartphones Do Secretly Steal Your Data

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the they're-just-making-a-copy dept.

Cellphones 164

They may be well reviewed and China's new top selling phone, but reader DavidGilbert99 writes with reason to be cautious about Xiaomi's phones: Finnish security firm F-Secure has seemingly proven that Xiaomi smartphones do in fact upload user data without their permission/knowledge despite the company strongly denying these allegations as late as 30 July. Between commercial malware and government agencies, how do you keep your phone's data relatively private?

Ask Slashdot: Life Beyond the WRT54G Series?

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the blue-pill-that-stacks-neatly dept.

Networking 427

First time accepted submitter jarmund (2752233) writes "I first got a WRT54GL in 2007. Now, 7 years later, it's still churning along, despite only having one of its antennae left after an encounter with a toddler. As it is simply not up to date to today's standards (802.11N for example), what is a worthy successor? I enjoyed the freedom to choose the firmware myself (I've run Tomato on it since 2008), in addition to its robustness. A replacement will be considered second-rate unless it catered for the same freedom as its predecessor." Is there a canonical best household router nowadays?

Russia Cracks Down On Public Wi-Fi; Oracle Blocks Java Downloads In Russia

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the interesting-times dept.

Censorship 254

Linking to a story at Reuters, reader WilliamGeorge writes "Russia is further constraining access to the internet and freedom of speech, with new laws regarding public use of WiFi. Nikolai Nikiforov, the Russian Communications Minister, tweeted that "Identification of users (via bank cards, cell phone numbers, etc.) with access to public Wifi is a worldwide practice." This comes on top of their actions recently to block websites of political opponents to Russian president Vladimir Putin, require registration of prominent bloggers, and more. The law was put into effect with little notice and without the input of Russian internet providers. Sergei Plugotarenko, head of the Russian Electronic Communications Association, said "It was unexpected, signed in such a short time and without consulting us." He added, "We will hope that this restrictive tendency stops at some point because soon won't there be anything left to ban." In addition to the ID requirement to use WiFi, the new law also requires companies to declare who is using their web networks and calls for Russian websites to store their data on servers located in Russia starting in 2016." That's not the only crackdown in progress, though: former Slashdot code-wrestler Vlad Kulchitski notes that Russian users are being blocked from downloading Java with an error message that reads, in essence, "You are in a country on which there is embargo; you cannot download JAVA." Readers at Hacker News note the same, though comments there indicate that the block may rely on a " specific and narrow IP-block," rather than being widespread. If you're reading this from Russia, what do you find?

China Cracks Down On Mobile Messaging

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the watch-what-you-say dept.

Censorship 58

itwbennett writes China is tightening control over mobile messaging services with new rules that limit their role in spreading news. Under the new regulations, only news agencies and other groups with official approval can publish whatever the government considers political news via public accounts. "All other public accounts that have not been approved cannot release or reprint political news," the regulations said. Users of the instant messaging services will also have to register with their official IDs, and agree to follow relevant laws.

The Hidden Cost of Your New Xfinity Router

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the opt-out-options-obviate-opposition dept.

Wireless Networking 224

An anonymous reader writes "The battle over Comcast's public WiFi network that is hosted on your cable modem continues. Comcast responded to Speedify's earlier power measurements by rushing them a new Cisco cable modem. The new modem proved to be more power hungry than the last, and also introduced some tricky IPv6 problems that caused major headaches for the team."

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