Round up for Mar 13, ’17

You just can’t escape “Vault 7”. Wikileaks has released the first batch of alleged leaks from the CIA’s Information Operations Center. The hacking tools are code-named Vault 7 and they include a shocking list of capabilities the documents claim the CIA has. The CIA is a clandestine organisation that by nature has secrets, however, the most surprising for us at Tekqio was that the documents suggest the CIA would rather you remain “unsafe” so the can spy on you then make you “safe” and not be able to spy on you. If the CIA can spy on you, then so should other agencies, “friend” or foe. Details here.

Dr. Mark Rettenmaier’s Laptop needed some special attention so he sent it over to Best Buy’s Geek Squad to take care of it. This simple transaction resulted in a child-pornography possession case against the doctor. During the course of the case, several memoranda have surfaced indicating that the FBI was actively seeking search without probable cause on customers’ computers. They even went so far to “recruit” geeks to search for the offensive materials and even thought about automating the searches. This is in clear violation of 4th amendment rights. More here.

Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Universal, Disney, Paramount and Viacomhave sued PubFilm/PidTV back in February but the court proceedings were sealed until last Friday. A TRO was issued on the site as the Hollywood giants accused the site operators of direct and secondary copyright infringement, trademark infringement and unfair competition. The sites provided downloading and streaming of very recently released films and TV shows. The kicker is the damages claim. $150K per infringement. The giants claim that 8M visitors went to the site per month. Do the math.

While the names of the companies were undisclosed, Check Point Software, in a blog post, has revealed that 38 Android phones had malware pre-installed perhaps somewhere along the supply chain to the customer. ‘Most of the malicious apps were info stealers and programs that displayed ads on the phones. One malicious ad-display app, dubbed “Loki,” gains powerful system privileges on the devices it infects. Another app was a mobile ransomware title known as “Slocker,” which uses Tor to conceal the identity of its operators.’ For mobile models and further details, see here.

Verifone suffered a breach in it’s internal network and launched an investigation into what happened exactly. The company released a memo to all staff to change their passwords within 24 hours of the memo circulation and block software installs except through their IT department. Later, some of their findings have uncovered station skimmers but hey believe their network is still secure. has a detailed piece into the matter here.

In cryptocurrency news, the Winkelvoss twins’ application to the SEC for their Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) has been denied. Approval would have given a huge boost to the crypotcurrency’s value and perhaps would have truly allowed it to be a player in traditional financial exchange markets. The reason given by the SEC for it’s disapproval was they believe it is will vulnerable to manipulation. More here.

In last week’s round we reported on the Uber Greyball tool, this week Uber has admitted to have used it to block regulators and city code officers. They did however vow to change their ways and “..are expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward.” More here.

In science news, it seems Mark Watney wasn’t off by much. “The International Potato Center (CIP) launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars atmospheric conditions and thereby prove they are also able to grow in extreme climates on Earth. This Phase Two effort of CIP’s proof of concept experiment to grow potatoes in simulated Martian conditions began on February 14, 2016 when a tuber was planted in a specially constructed CubeSat contained environment built by engineers from University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima based upon designs and advice provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Ames Research Center (NASA ARC), California. Preliminary results are positive.” More here.

In other news:

Proof Daylight Saving Time Is Dumb, Dangerous, and Costly

Why WebAssembly is a game changer for the web — and a source of pride for Mozilla and Firefox

MAC randomization: A massive failure that leaves iPhones, Android mobes open to tracking

(Opinion piece)
The Promise of Blockchain Is a World Without Middlemen

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