Ebola-Advisory Mobile Phone Application Expanding into West Africa

A Sierra Leone text-based messaging system used to advise residents about Ebola is being ramped up for a launch in seven other West African countries: Benin, Togo, Ghana, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, and Burkina Faso. The Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (TERA) was created by The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Trilogy International Partners, a wireless telecommunications company. The system enables users to send text messages—to educate the public about Ebola symptoms, how to avoid infection, what to do in case of infection, and other health-education information—to every switched-on mobile telephone handset in a specific geographic area by drawing an outline around the targeted area on a computer-generated map. Phone owners’ privacy is protected because their phone numbers aren’t made visible. Recipients could opt out of the text notifications. The IFRC and Trilogy want to expand their system within nine months, but they need local mobile providers’ and government cooperation. The IFRC and Trilogy developed TERA following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. It was also used in Sierra Leone in 2013 in connection with that country's worst cholera outbreak in 40 years. (BBC)(IT Pro Portal)(The International Federation of Red Cross)

New Legal Defense Fund Raises Funds for Lawsuit by Man Named as Possible Bitcoin Creator

A website is raising money to enable Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto—a 65-year-old man that Newsweek magazine, in a March 2014 article, said appeared to be bitcoin’s creator—to possibly sue the publication. The website NewsweekLied—sponsored by Nakamoto’s attorneys at Kirschner & Associates—asks for contributions to be used for mounting a legal defense on his behalf, “to raise money to hold Newsweek accountable for [its] article.” He appears in a photograph on the site. The NewsweekLied website states Nakamoto and his family were “misquoted. In some cases, words were attributed to them that were never said.” Nakamoto specifically said that he didn’t create bitcoin. The website does not state what Newsweek would be sued for. So far, roughly $23,000 worth of Bitcoin has been donated by other supporters for Nakamoto’s personal use. Some Nakamoto supporters are skeptical about the motives behind this effort, implying Nakamoto’s attorney is spurring the effort. The article describes, in detail, the life story of the Temple City, California, man and features interviews with his family and others regarding the possibility this Nakamoto is the same Nakomoto who created bitcoin. (Tech Crunch)(CoinDesk)(Newsweek Lied)

Mass Router Failure Remains Unexplained

Belkin International has not explained the cause of a mass outage of its routers on 7 October 2014, which resulted in users not being able to connect to the Internet. The failure, primarily in older wireless routers, occurred when the devices checked for general network connectivity through a site that Belkin hosts. Belkin says the issue has been fixed. However, the company has not yet explained what caused the outages and has not indicated what actions would be taken to prevent such issues in the future. Some media outlets—such as PC World —have speculated that a firmware update caused the problem. (Tech Crunch)(PC World)

Woman Sues US Government for Creating False Facebook Page

A woman is suing the US government for making a false Facebook page displaying photos of her and containing personal information federal agents took from her cellular phone to extract information from suspected drug dealers. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) says a Drug Enforcement Administration agent created the page as part of an ongoing drug investigation using images and information retrieved from Sondra Arquiett’s phone. The New York woman was arrested in July 2010 on cocaine distribution charges. In February 2011, court records show, Arquiett pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute the drug. In January 2012, she was sentenced to time served and given a period of home confinement. The records do not show whether Arquiett agreed to testify against any alleged co-conspirators. At the time of her arrest, she gave police access to her cell phone. A DEA agent subsequently took images—including one of her son—and information from her phone and used them to create a Facebook page using Arquiett’s alias of Sondra Prince in order to fool her friends and others into “revealing incriminating drug secrets,” according to The Associated Press. In her lawsuit, Arquiett said law enforcement officials didn’t say they would create a Facebook page using material from her phone. She alleges the incident breached her rights to privacy, equal protection under the law and due process, and is seeking $250,000 in damages. Her case is scheduled to go to trial this week in Albany, New York. The DoJ says it is reviewing the incident to determine whether creating the page “went too far.” Federal officials have said the consent was implicit and Arquiett “relinquished any expectation of privacy she may have had to photographs on her cell phone” by agreeing to having her phone searched. The government claims the page was not publicly available. However, reporters from Buzzfeed and the Associated Press were able to access it before it was taken down. Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights advocacy organization, told The Associated Press the government’s rationale for creating the page was “laughable.” He said, “If I’m cooperating with law enforcement, and law enforcement says, ‘Can I search your phone?' and I hand it over to them, my expectation is that they will search the phone for evidence of a crime, not that they will take things that are not evidence off my phone and use it in another context.” Facebook has declined comment. (BBC)(The Associated Press @ Newsday)

European ATM Vulnerability Lets Crooks Cash Out

Interpol has discovered a vulnerability in cash machines that criminals can leverage to steal money. The international law-enforcement agency says it is investigating the matter and alerting countries in Europe, Latin America, and Asia that hackers have targeted. Security vendor Kaspersky Lab, which discovered the hack, says infected ATMs can be prompted to dispense 40 banknotes without a card simply by entering a series of digits on the keypad. Hackers infect machines with Tyupkin malware via a boot CD. They can then selectively unlock compromised machines and let hired thieves withdraw specified amounts of money. The cash is taken from the ATM’s store of money and not from a customer’s account. ATM security is notoriously weak and badly needs upgrading, according to Kaspersky. (BBC)(Kaspersky Lab SecureList)


Microsoft Announces Windows 10

Microsoft has announced that its newest operating system, Windows 10, will run on devices ranging from PCs to game consoles and mobiles devices when released by the end of 2015. Microsoft will release the OS’s technical preview for laptops and PCs later this week, with a server version to follow at an undisclosed time in the near future.  Microsoft officials say they skipped from the current Windows 8 to Windows 10 to reflect how different the two operating systems will be. “Windows 10 will be our most comprehensive platform ever,” said Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s chief of operating systems. Longtime Windows users will see the return of the Start Menu, which Microsoft removed from Windows 8. Some of the newer features are rough, such as Continuum, which allows the operating system to reconfigure from a keyboard-and-mouse oriented input to touch-capable tiles for tablets and phones. (BBC – 1)(BBC – 2)(ReadWrite)(Microsoft TechNet)

US Agency Orders Airplane Cockpit Technology Retrofits

US airlines must replace or modify the cockpit-display units in 1,326 Boeing 737 and 777 jets during the next five years to prevent signal interference that could cause screens to go blank, according to a new US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) directive. The agency says its tests showed that Wi-Fi signals could interfere with Honeywell Phase 3 cockpit displays, which show essential aircraft information such as airspeed, altitude, and heading. However, Honeywell says that in 2012, it fixed the only known problem of this type, which occurred during a test while an aircraft was on the ground. Virgin Australia, Air France, Ryanair, and Honeywell have opposed to the new FAA rules, saying Wi-Fi signals are not sufficiently strong to disrupt the cockpit display’s operations. The FAA estimates that mandated retrofits will cost roughly $13.8 million. (BBC)(Engadget)(Reuters)(The Federal Register)

OpenVPN Might Be Vulnerable to Shellshock Bug

New information shows that virtual-private-network servers based on the popular open source OpenVPN may be vulnerable to attacks exploiting Shellshock and related flaws. Fredrik Strömberg, cofounder of the commercial VPN service Mullvad, noted, “OpenVPN has a number of configuration options that can call custom commands during different stages of the [VPN] tunnel session.” “Many of these commands are called with environmental variables set, some of which can be controlled by the client.” Hackers exploiting Shellshock could use this to infect systems with malware. The Shellshock vulnerability is in versions 1.14 through 4.3 of the GNU Bourne Again Shell—known as Bash—the command-line shell used in many Linux and Unix operating systems, as well as Mac OS X Mavericks, and some Windows and IBM products. Numerous Internet-connected devices, Web servers, and online services run on Linux distributions that use Bash. If a system has a vulnerable Bash version as its default shell, hackers could attack it via malicious Web requests, telnet communications, or other programs that use Bash to execute scripts. They could then run deep-level shell commands on target devices. Researchers say hackers could exploit many possible remote attack vectors, including the OpenVPN server’s authentication capabilities. Vendors continue issuing Shellshock patches for their vulnerable products. (PC World)(ZD Net)(Threatpost)

New Social Network Takes on Facebook

A new social network originally intended for use by about 90 friends is now open to others and has generated considerable interest in what industry observers call an anti-Facebook backlash. The invitation-only Ello website -- https://ello.co/   —which has gained attention in part because it has no advertisements—is now receiving roughly 31,000 requests an hour from people wanting to join. Ello CEO and cofounder Paul Budnitz opened the site, which is still in beta, to those beyond his immediate circle of 90 friends on 7 August, but the site is still in beta. The site is spare and white, with plenty of space given to photographs. Ello plans to eventually sell users access to special features, which it has yet to develop, to generate revenue. (BBC)(TIME)(Bloomberg Businessweek)

US Agency Investigates Bitcoin Hardware Provider

The US Federal Trade Commission is asking a federal judge to grant a preliminary injunction against Butterfly Labs, which would place the Bitcoin-mining-hardware manufacturer in a court-appointed receivership and extend a temporary restraining order filed by the agency. The injunction alleges that Butterfly Labs used customer-ordered machines to mine bitcoins before shipping them, saying the practice was part of their testing, allowing the company to pocket Bitcoins that should have gone to its customers. The FTC says it is also investigating three of the company’s directors for spending company money on personal products and services while not fulfilling orders, thereby taking what amounts to interest-free loans from customers. Butterfly Labs is currently working under a temporary restraining order. The court previously allowed the FTC to seize Butterfly Labs’ assets and close its operations before the case goes to court. (Ars Technica)(CoinDesk)


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