Pirate Bay Founder Convicted on Hacking Charges

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, a Swedish hacker who founded the controversial file-sharing website Pirate Bay, has been found guilty of hacking crimes in Denmark. He was charged with vandalism, as well as hacking into several Danish public databases via an ISP and accessing people’s personal data, including criminal records and extradition agreements. Svartholm Warg contends the hacking was done by someone who remotely accessed his computer. Sentencing for both men is expected 31 October 2014. Prosecutors sought a six-year sentence, near the maximum allowed. Svartholm Warg, who has spent 11 months in a Danish prison, was arrested in 2012 in Cambodia before extradition to Sweden on unrelated hacking charges before being extradited to Denmark a year ago. In 2009, he was found guilty of copyright violations with the other founders of Pirate Bay, which gained a reputation as a conduit for illegal copies of movies, music, software, and video games. (The Age)(International Business Times)

Robots Hawking Coffee Makers in Japanese Retail Stores

A fleet of humanoid robots is selling coffeemakers for Nestle SA in electronics retailers throughout Japan. The company is the first corporate customer for SoftBank’s Pepper robots, which are developed in France and made in Taiwan. In December, 20 robots will be used in Japanese Nestle stores. Nestle plans to eventually have robots in 1,000 stores. Nestle Japan spokesperson Miki Kano told the Japan Times, “We are sure that our customers will enjoy shopping and being entertained by robots.” Pepper—which sells for ¥198,000 yen ($1,763)—is also serving as a greeter at SoftBank mobile phone stores in Japan. Pepper will be available to consumers in February 2015. (Reuters)(Japan Times)

Microsoft Announces Final Planned Job Cuts

After eliminating more 3,000 jobs in late October, Microsoft says it has now completed “almost all” of the 18,000 cuts announced in July by new CEO Satya Nadella. He said the reductions were designed such that there were “fewer layers of management, both top down and sideways, to accelerate the flow of information and decision making.” The latest cuts were reportedly in departments such as finance, human resources, and marketing. “The reductions are spread across many different business units and many different countries,” according to a corporate statement. The company will have, once the job cuts are effective, roughly 110,000 employees. (Geek Wire)(Reuters)

Hackers Hit Unclassified White House Computer Network

An unclassified network within the US White House was hacked, according to various press reports. The Executive Office of the President network was attacked roughly two or three weeks ago, according to the Washington Post, affecting some of the Executive Office computing resources and causing a temporary network outage as cybersecurity teams sought to isolate the illicit activity. It is unclear whether the hackers took any data from the network, which isn’t used for classified communications. Unnamed US officials claim it was a state-sponsored attack. The US National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Secret Service are investigating. (BBC)(eWeek)(The Washington Post)

Google Uses Sensors and Nanoparticles for Health Diagnostics

A technology combining nanoparticles and sensors should enable physicians to detect diseases in their very early stages, according to research that Google has conducted. The technology could detect imminent heart attacks or strokes, cancers, and other diseases before conventional means could identify their presence and even before the person is symptomatic. This is important because, for example, some cancers are typically detected only after they have become untreatable. Google X scientists are undertaking the research, which is still in early development. In the new system, nanoparticles detect disease via constant monitoring. These enter the patient’s bloodstream in a pill-type delivery device. A wrist-based sensor identifies any biochemical changes in the user’s body that the nanoparticles detect. The wrist device would be used to attract and count the nanoparticles, which would also have a smart coating to seek out specific molecules or biomarkers in the body indicative of possible disease. The system could also diagnose conditions based on the nanoparticles’ movement through a magnetic field created by the wristband. Google, which is working to reduce the number of false-positive findings the system generates, is seeking partners for licensing the technology. (BBC)(The Wall Street Journal)(ZD Net)

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)


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