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Hackers steal over $150,000 in cryptocurrency with DNS scam

MyEtherWallet (MEW) is one of the most popular online wallets for cryptocurrency. Now, it appears that the site was the subject of a DNS hack and some users lost their money. MEW wasn’t directly hacked or compromised; instead, it looks as though DNS servers were targeted and users were redirected to phishing websites instead of visiting MEW.

The hack appears to have occurred between 11 AM and 1 PM UTC yesterday (7 AM to 9 AM ET), and the team at MEW noticed that the “majority of those affected were using Google DNS servers,” as they noted in a tweet. Users likely were served an SSL warning and chose it ignore it.

MEW tweeted some tips to avoid phishing scams like this in the future. This is, of course, in addition to paying attention to SSL warnings and looking for a green bar SSL certificate to assure users that they have arrived at the intended website. The service also recommends switching from Google’s DNS servers to Cloudflare.

⅘ Some advice for our users: run a local (offline) copy of MEW platform. Use hardware wallets to store your cryptocurrencies. IGNORE any tweets, Reddit posts, or ANY messages which claim to be giving away or reimbursing ETH on behalf of MEW.

— (@myetherwallet) April 24, 2018

Users lost a total of $152,000 (216 Ether) in this hack according to Coindesk, but TechCrunch reports that the actual total is probably higher: Somewhere in the range of $365,000. The trouble is, because the hack wasn’t actually a security issue with MEW, it’s hard to guard against this sort of thing.

Kevin Beaumont reports that it was actually Amazon’s internet domain service, rather than Google’s, that was targeted in the attack. The hackers rerouted and served DNS traffic for over two hours. Right now, it appears as though MEW was the only target, but this attack serves to further highlight just how vulnerable the “phone book of the internet” really is.

Source: TechCrunch


‘Hypnospace Outlaw’ is GeoCities moderator, the game

If you used the internet in the mid-to-late 90s, you probably remember GeoCities. Bright, garish webpages full of animated glitter and barely readable text. It was a different time, before Facebook, Twitter and anything resembling an ephemeral ‘story.’

The old web-hosting service is now the inspiration for an upcoming adventure game called Hypnospace Outlaw. It takes place in an alternate reality where the internet — known as the Hypnospace — has evolved around archaic but deeply personal web pages. You play as a lowly internet janitor moderator person who has volunteered to patrol the platform in exchange for a virtual currency known as Hypno Coin. It can only be spent, however, on upgrades for your clunky Hypno OS computer.

Throughout the game, you’ll receive automated messages about Hypnospace “violations.” You’re then tasked with finding the pages and corresponding users that are breaking the company’s rules. Each investigation is a unique text-based puzzle. The process and solutions, of course, are a mystery for now. In an interview, developer Jay Tholen hinted that page tags and a search engine will play a crucial role, however. “There are other weird ways to solve the puzzles,” he said, “but I don’t want to spoil the conceits of those.”

The allure of the game, though, is undoubtedly its nostalgia-fueled aesthetic. Each page is littered with low-resolution GIFs and fonts that make Comic Sans look sophisticated. Many websites also have music that auto-play in the background, reflecting the tastes and personality of the page owner. You can customize the operating system with different themes and icon layouts. There’s also a desktop helper similar to the iconic Clippy and Merlin Office Assistants. “I just felt like we needed it!” Tholen said. “This [game] wouldn’t be the same without a weird desktop assistant hanging around.”

“It’s always fun to feel like you’re on someone else’s weird computer.”

If you want to take a break from internet sleuthing, you can care for a Tamagotchi-style pet on your desktop. You’ll have to pet, feed and dispose of its poop that clogs up your screen as dedicated icons, however. “If too much poop is hanging around, they’ll get sick and die,” Tholen said. “And then you’ll have a gravestone that you can’t remove from your desktop.” It’s a clear throwback to the Windows 95 and 98 era of personal computing. There’s a ghostly trail, for instance, that follows your cursor around the screen, and a bunch of weird software you can download from legally dubious sources.

“It’s always fun to feel like you’re on someone else’s weird computer,” Tholen said. “The games I’ve played that let you do that… even if it’s a little clunky, there’s something strange, nice and interesting about just poking around someone else’s system. Hopefully, that transfers [with Hypnospace Outlaw].”


Tholen was inspired to make the game after working as a telemarketer at a Squarespace-style website-building company. “It was very, very Geocities,” he explained. The service was marketed to older people who wanted a website for their small business. “Or for their dogs,” Tholen added. “There were lots of dog and cat websites.” At the company, he also took on paid work that involved building a website to a customer’s exact specification.

One of these projects, commissioned by a user called Psychic Elizabeth Claire, was for a website filled with references to the Bewitched cartoon. “She wanted me to use the theme song and everything,” Tholen said. He tried to explain that this would be a copyright infringement, and generally a bad idea, but “Claire” was persistent. Eventually, Tholen gave in, believing that nobody of note would visit the site anyway. “And then she started annoying everyone,” he recalled. Tholen later left the company, but not before giving his personal number to the client. One day, Claire left a voicemail that said she would walk into a church and “light a candle for you to break your neck” if Tholen didn’t call her back.

“It was weird, and I felt a little guilty.”

The company Tholen had worked for eventually blocked and canceled her account. The budding game developer then received a call from a young girl demanding an explanation for her mother’s treatment. During the conversation, she explained that “Claire” could barely read. “And then a lot of stuff started to make sense,” Tholen said. “Because a lot of the work had been writing down what she was saying to me.” He started to look at their conversations differently. “It was weird, and I felt a little guilty,” he said, “because maybe this was just some poor lady trying to do a hustle (online).”

These types of stories are explored in Hypnospace Outlaw. Over time, you’ll learn more about the users you’re investigating and how Hypnospace’s policies are affecting them. “You’ll also eventually be able to see some of their files that they don’t think other people can see,” Tholen hinted. In the real world, the developer believes that everyone is “infinitely interesting” with complexity that goes beyond their online persona. He has strived, therefore, to give each character a “crunchiness” with lots of hidden details to discover. “So they’re not just a pastiche on a type of person.”


Hypnospace Outlaw was successfully crowdfunded in September 2016. The game has changed substantially over the last 18 months, however. The original concept, for instance, had you chasing targets on a virtual Hypnospace Highway. It stemmed from an early prototype, Hypnospace Enforcer, which focused heavily on this fast, twitch-based gameplay. Tholen was coming off Dropsy, a traditional adventure game, and wanted to make something completely different. He also worried that Twitch was giving people few reasons to actually play adventure games themselves.

“Because [normally] there’s no particularly unique feeling to playing it,” he said, “or achievement, or any kind of creative input from the player. You’re just doing the same exact thing that you saw the streamer do in an adventure game.”

“I don’t want to spoil too much.”

As development progressed, though, he realized the operating system could serve a similar role. Backers loved the customization aspect and wanted to explore both Hypno OS and the Hypnospace for themselves. The highway mechanic is still in the game, according to Tholen, but it will have a diminished role. “This game exists as a game within the game now,” Tholen hinted. “Sort of. I don’t want to spoil too much about it.”

Hypnospace Outlaw will be released later this year on PC, Mac and Linux. It’s being published by No More Robots, the same company behind Descenders and the Brexit-themed Not Tonight. Tholen says it’s possible a special edition will come out later with a Hypnospace website builder and custom music generator. “Some version of the game so that people can mod it themselves and add their own fake internets,” he said.

How very GeoCities.

Source: Hypnospace Outlaw


DOJ is reportedly investigating Huawei for violating Iran sanctions

The US government (and its intelligence agencies) have been warning consumers against buying Huawei smartphones, which has led to major cellular carriers in the country backing away from deals with the company. But it appears that Huawei’s troubles aren’t over yet. The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Department of Justice is looking into whether Huawei may have violated the country’s sanctions against Iran.

Issues with Huawei stem from its perceived ties to the Chinese government. Its founder was a senior engineer with the Chinese Liberation Army. The concern is that allowing a company that might be beholden to a foreign government access to the US telecommunications network is a bad idea. So far, the Congress has proposed blocking Huawei from any government contracts and advised carriers, ISPs and private citizens against buying the company’s products.

The scope of this new probe is unclear, nor are we aware of specific allegations being made against Huawei. However, it signals that the US government is interested in the company’s actions at a broader level. If the Department of Justice finds that Huawei violated sanctions against Iran, the company and its officials could face criminal penalties.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Lexus’ 2019 ES will be its first model with CarPlay support

Toyota has slowly been entering the modern era with full smartphone integration in its cars, and now it’s time for the company’s upscale Lexus badge. Lexus has revealed that the 2019 ES sedan is its first-ever vehicle to support Apple CarPlay, giving iPhone owners familiar apps and Siri while they ride in style. There’s still no Android Auto support, sadly, but you do get Alexa voice control both in and outside of the car.

The ES is a tech-laden car even if you don’t care for voice assistants. The standard model includes an 8-inch center display, but you can spring for a navigation package that gives you an ultra-wide 12.3-inch screen and a mobile Verizon hotspot. Every variant comes with an updated pre-collision detection system that can detect cyclists. And this being a Toyota brand, there’s naturally a hybrid variant — the ordinary V6-equipped ES 350 is joined by a hybrid ES 300h whose updated electric motor is better at mimicking the power delivery of a gas engine. You shouldn’t see as much of an obvious change when the electric motor kicks in.

Lexus hasn’t divulged pricing for the new ES (the 2018 model starts at $38,335), but it should reach dealerships in September. We’d expect CarPlay to reach other Lexus vehicles as the 2019 model year arrives. As with the earlier Toyota announcements, this iPhone tie-in isn’t likely to reel you in by itself. Rather, it’s that you no longer have to rule out a Lexus if CarPlay is a must-have.

CarPlay in the 2019 Lexus ES

Source: Lexus


Bandsintown integrates Apple Music for in-app streaming

If you’re like me, looking at your local concert listings is usually accompanied by blasting the music of the bands you encounter along the way. That task typically requires multiple apps, but live music discovery company Bandsintown now offers Apple Music subscribers the ability to stream tunes directly inside of its mobile software. When you visit an artist’s tour dates page, you’ll see a play button up top. Tap it and a selection of songs will begin. You can also tap an EQ icon in the bottom right corner of the app to browse other tracks.

This should be a handy addition for the Apple Music faithful, but what about people who use other services? Bandsintown says the goal is to “enhance music and artist discovery for all of its users,” but Apple’s MusicKit is the first offering that allows it to do something like this. And thanks to MusicKit, users who aren’t Apple Music subscribers can sign up for a free trial with ease.

Bandsintown already connects to your Spotify account to alert you to shows from your favorite artists and serve up recommendations, so hopefully a similar player for that streaming service will be available in the near future.


Snapchat’s latest AR trick turns Lenses into games

Snapchat’s augmented reality Lenses are clever, but not particularly engaging. You probably won’t use them outside of the occasional moment when they help express what you’re feeling. Snap may have a clever way to keep you coming back, though: add a game-like element. It’s unveiling Snappables, or Lenses that let you play AR games (and other interactive experiences) with friends. You can fight aliens, blow up virtual bubble gum, or jump into a world like a nightclub. You’ll even get a score in some of these experiences, in case you want to challenge a friend.

The first Snappables will be available this week on both Android and iOS, and you’ll automatically receive new examples as they arrive. They’ll sit to the left of the capture button inside the Snapchat app, while regular Lenses will show on the right.

As unusual as it might seem to make games through Lenses, rather than stand-alone mini-apps, it makes sense for a company in the midst of a turnaround. Games not only increase the chance you’ll use Lenses, but also make it likelier that you’ll stay inside the app for longer. A back-and-forth game rivalry might last longer than a short exchange of ordinary Lenses. And that, in turn, might lead to you exploring Stories and other app features.

Source: Snap, App Store, Google Play


Netflix’s ‘Follow This’ chronicles the BuzzFeed news cycle

Netflix and BuzzFeed have teamed up to do short-form documentaries on BuzzFeed’s own reporters. Follow This will consist of a 20-episode weekly series that will premiere on July 9th, according to Variety. Each episode will run about 15 minutes. A trailer, which you can see below, previews the first episode. It follows Scaachi Koul as she follows a story on autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR.

The show will be produced by BuzzFeed News and will be aimed at users on mobile devices. BuzzFeed also has an investigative TV series premiering on Oxygen this year.

BuzzFeed isn’t the only online news outlet to make this kind of deal. Vice’s Motherboard recently produced a documentary that will make its debut on Netflix after a theatrical run. And Vice also has a daily news series on HBO called Vice News Tonight. Rather than focusing on the journalists investigating stories, like BuzzFeed’s documentary series, Vice News Tonight is a news show that bills itself as “completely different from the news shows you’re used to, and we think that’s a good thing,” according to Vice.

Source: YouTube


Researchers create device that opens hotel doors with old key cards

Researchers at cybersecurity firm F-Secure have designed a device that can pull data off of hotel key cards and essentially create a master key for an entire hotel. Alarmingly, the key card doesn’t even have to be currently in use. The device can steal data from the card whether it’s functional or expired and can give the user access to pretty much any room in the hotel in just a matter of minutes. “It can be your own room key, a cleaning staff key, even to the garage or workout facility,” F-Secure’s Tomi Tuominen told Gizmodo. “We can even do it in an elevator if you have your key in your front pocket; we can just clone it from there.”

The inspiration for the device came in 2003 when a laptop belonging to a colleague of the researchers, who was attending a hacker conference in Berlin, was stolen from his hotel room. Because there was no sign of forced entry and no unauthorized access recorded in the entry logs, nothing much was done.

The ability to create such a device is certainly worrisome, but there is some good news. It took the researchers quite a long time to develop the device, years in fact, and the F-Secure team says it’s not aware of any such devices being used maliciously in the real world. “We don’t know of anyone else performing this particular attack in the wild right now,” Tuominen said in a statement.

The locks the F-Secure team targeted were developed by VingCard, now owned by Assa Abloy, a company that has acquired a number of other major lock companies such as Yale and August Home and is now the largest lock manufacturer in the world. The VingCard system they targeted is reportedly used in over 42,000 properties in 166 countries. F-Secure says it notified Assa Abloy of its findings and over the past year, the two groups have worked together to develop a fix for the vulnerabilities exploited by the master key device. Affected properties have received updates. “Because of their diligence and willingness to address the problems identified by our research, the hospitality world is now a safer place,” said Tuominen. “We urge any establishment using this software to apply the update as soon as possible.”

Hotels have been targets of malicious actors in a number of ways over the years, with attacks including credit card info-swiping malware, keyloggers installed on publicly available hotel computers and exploits of hotel WiFi. And others have made devices that crack key card locks as well.

Image: F-Secure

Via: ZDNet

Source: F-Secure


8K TVs are coming, but don’t buy the hype

By Rob Pegoraro

If the 8,294,400 pixels of resolution on an Ultra High Definition television just don’t seem to convey enough detail, fear not: The electronics industry has heard your cry.

Even as UHD TVs, often called 4K TVs for their nearly 4,000 pixels of horizontal resolution, approach half of display shipments in the U.S., set manufacturers have been stepping up their demos of 8K sets that, with their 7680-by-4320 resolution, pack in a full 33,177,600 pixels.

And Sharp is now expanding its distribution of one such set, the 70-inch LV-70X500E. Following its October debut in China and subsequent arrivals in Japan and Taiwan, this 8K display will go on sale across Europe at the end of April for €11,199 — about $13,800 at current exchange rates. Sharp hasn’t announced anything about U.S. availability, but during a conversation at CES in January, Sharp marketing vice-president Rey Roque said an American price for this set would be in the “low five figures.”

That, apparently, is supposed to be a reasonable price for a set that supports a video format that offers next to nothing to watch, that can’t be streamed on most broadband connections or fit onto Blu-ray discs and which can’t even be properly appreciated unless you get a set too big to fit in many living rooms.

An upsell based on upscaling

Sharp laid out its pitch for 8K TV last week at the IFA Global Press Conference, a spring event hosted by the organizers of the IFA electronics trade show that runs in Berlin each summer. One thing it doesn’t include: Having lots of video to watch in 8K.

Sascha Lange, Sharp’s European vice president for marketing and sales, instead emphasized how this and other 8K sets could electronically upscale 4K content (although even that remains scarce, especially for live programming like sports) and could show still images at their full resolution.

Actual 8K video will be a small part of the picture at first. The Japanese broadcaster NHK has been testing 8K transmission over the air as well as via cable and satellite, but it stands alone in that respect.

Blu-ray discs now support 4K video, but they won’t be able to accommodate 8K, predicted Mark Vena, senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. For that, you’d need “really high-density drives,” he said.

Streaming allowed 4K video to find an audience without the cooperation of cable and satellite firms. But while, for instance, YouTube has offered 8K video since 2015, video at that resolution demands far faster download speeds than 4K streaming.

The highlights reel playing on a demo unit of Sharp’s 8K set required 300 megabits per second of bandwidth to stream, said Adrian Wysocki, group product manager at UMC, the Sharp-owned firm that builds TVs in Poland for the company. He suggested in a conversation Friday that more efficient formats could cut that to 100 Mbps.

Only 23.2% of U.S. fixed-broadband connections hit that speed at the end of 2016, according to to the Federal Communications Commission’s latest report on internet access services.

Wysocki added that an 8K display can also show four 4K streams at once, a possibility Sharp demonstrated at CES in January. He allowed that Sharp’s 70-inch set was not really a product for average consumers but would definitely appeal to the right sort of videophile.

“If you’re a freak and if you have enough money, of course you will want to have this at home.”

You’re going to need a bigger living room

Sharp also emphasized that 8K will make bigger screens possible — which is another way of saying that you’ll need giant screens to appreciate 8K’s extra resolution, much as 4K’s added pixels can’t be seen from most couches unless the screen is bigger than 50 inches or so.

“It enables larger screens at home,” said Sharp’s Lange during the presentation. “8K is the technological condition to start selling and enjoying more 70-inch-plus screens at home.”

But as set sizes increase, so do their costs, warned analyst Paul Gray of IHS Markit. Ultra-large TVs incur shipping, delivery and installation costs that don’t apply to smaller sets.

“Between 65 and 75, the volume of the box goes up by a factor of four,” Gray said, noting the extra reinforcement required for the larger display to survive shipment.

Installation of something that won’t fit in a car and may not fit through some doors adds to the expense. “It’s got to be delivered by two people, when the owner is in, and it’s probably gotta be installed by them,” Gray said.

Some people will probably buy this

The entire 8K concept — something that Sharp has been pushing since CES 2012 — can seem like one of the electronics industry’s more annoying exercises in fetishizing newness over convenience or cost. Think of Apple dropping the headphone jack, but with much larger price tags all around.

But 8K probably will draw some shoppers. IHS Markit predicts that China will be an early success for it, thanks to an enormous and expanding market of early adopters of technology. The firm projects 8K will account for 9% of the display market there by 2021, versus just over 2% in North America.

And a flood of 8K content may not be necessary for 8K to secure a niche as a luxury product if just bringing more pixels to the party can suffice. Or as Gray summed up: “It’s numbers marketing.”

(Disclosure: The conference organizers covered most of my travel expenses, along with those of a large group of journalists and analysts.)


iOS 11 Now Installed on 76% of iOS Devices, While Android 8 is Installed on 4.6% of Android Devices

The iOS 11 operating system is installed on 76 percent of devices as of April 22, according to statistics Apple shared today on its App Store support page for developers.

That’s up 11 percentage points since January 18, when iOS 11 was installed on 65 percent of devices, and 24 percentage points since November 6, when iOS 11 was installed on 52 percent of devices.

19 percent of devices continue to use iOS 10, while 5 percent of devices use earlier versions of iOS, such as iOS 9. Many of these devices are likely older and unable to be updated to the newest version of iOS.

iOS 11 adoption rates have been growing steadily, but adoption has been markedly slower than iOS 10. In February of 2017, for example, iOS 10 was installed on nearly 80 percent of active devices.

iOS 11 has been plagued by high-profile bugs and issues like the HomeKit bug, the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, and most notably, the iPhone slowdown controversy that saw Apple throttling the performance of older iPhones. Though not directly related to iOS 11, it’s likely people shied away from updating after reading about the issue.

The 11 percent uptick in iOS 11 adoption from January to April can be attributed to the launch of iOS 11.2 in December and iOS 11.3 in March, both of which were major updates introducing key new features.

iOS 11.2 brought Apple Pay Cash and faster 7.5W wireless charging for Apple’s newest devices, while iOS 11.3 included a new battery health tool, ARKit 1.5, a Health Records feature, and many other smaller changes.

iOS 11.4, which is in the works, is another update that could spur adoption, as it will introduce Messages on iCloud and AirPlay 2 if the features currently in testing make it into the release.

Customers may be wary of iOS 11, leading to somewhat slower adoption rates, but Apple’s iOS 11 install base is beyond impressive compared to Google’s adoption numbers for its latest operating system update.

As of April 16, just 0.5 percent of Android devices are running the newest version of Android Oreo, and only 4.6 percent of devices total have Oreo installed. The majority of Android users continue to run Android Lollipop, Marshmallow, and Nougat, operating systems that came out in 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively.

Related Roundup: iOS 11Tag: Android
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