News & Updates

Internet of Things (IoT) is the latest buzz in the world of technology, but they are much easier to hack than you think.

Until now we have heard many scary stories of hacking IoT devices, but how realistic is the threat?

Just think of a scenario where you enter in your house, and it’s sweltering, but when you head on to check the temperature of your thermostat, you find out that it has been


(credit: Getty / Aurich)

AT&T has agreed to pay $7.75 million after a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation uncovered a cramming scam in which AT&T customers were billed $9 a month for a non-existent directory assistance service.

When the DEA investigated two Cleveland-area companies for drug-related crimes and money laundering, the agency seized the companies’ “cars, jewelry, gold, and computers.” In the process, the feds “discovered financial documents related to a scheme to defraud telephone customers,” according to a Federal Communications Commission announcement today.

“The key participants in the scheme told DEA agents that the companies were set up to bill thousands of consumers (mostly small businesses) for a monthly directory assistance service on their local AT&T landline telephone bills,” the FCC said. “The DEA referred this investigation to the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau in 2015.” The FCC investigated further and convinced AT&T to agree to today’s settlement.

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Enlarge / Devices running the iOS 10 beta. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Public betas are now a given for major and minor iOS and macOS releases for Apple, but that wasn’t the case just a couple of years ago. The reason? Apple Maps, according to a Fast Company piece with quotes from Apple CEO Tim Cook, Software Engineering SVP Craig Federighi, and Internet Software and Services SVP Eddy Cue.

To recap, the Maps app in iOS switched from using Google’s data to Apple’s in iOS 6 back in 2012. The transition did not go well; the reception from the press and the public was bad enough that it prompted a rare apology and led to the departure of longtime iOS software head Scott Forstall.

“We made significant changes to all of our development processes because of [Maps],” Cue told Fast Company. “To all of us living in Cupertino, the maps for here were pretty darn good. Right? So [the problem] wasn’t obvious to us. We were never able to take it out to a large number of users to get that feedback. Now we do.”

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MICROS, an Oracle-owned division that’s one of the world’s top three point-of-sale services, has suffered a security breach. The attack possibly comes at the hands of a Russian crime gang that siphoned out more than $1 billion (~£770 million) from banks and retailers in past hacks, security news site KrebsOnSecurity reported Monday.

Oracle representatives have told reporter Brian Krebs that company engineers “detected and addressed malicious code in certain legacy MICROS systems” and that the service has asked all customers to reset their passwords for the MICROS online support site. Anonymous people have told Krebs that Oracle engineers initially thought the breach was limited to a small number of computers in the company’s retail division. The engineers later realized the infection affected more than 700 systems.

Krebs went on to report that two security experts briefed on the breach investigation said the MICROS support portal was seen communicating with a server that’s known to be used by the Carbanak Gang. Over the past few years, Carbanak members are suspected of funneling more than $1 billion out of banks, retailers, and hospitality firms the group hacked into.

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Shaun Bridges was captured by CCTV security cameras, leaving a Secret Service field office with a large bag. The government said the bag may have contained hard drives with keys needed to access his Bitstamp wallet. (credit: US Attorney’s Office San Francisco)

The lawyer representing Shaun Bridges, the corrupt Secret Service agent who was part of the Silk Road investigation, has said that his recent appeal is largely worthless and has asked to be removed from the case.

Davina Pujari, who is Bridges’ third lawyer since his appeals process began in December 2015, wrote in a filing last Friday to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:

After having carefully examined this record and after having researched the relevant statutes and case law, counsel has concluded that this appeal presents only legally frivolous issues. Therefore, counsel requests the Court’s permission to withdraw as attorney of record and to allow Appellant to file any further briefs he deems necessary.

Last year, Bridges was sentenced to 71 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing money from Silk Road dealers while investigating the site. He is now in federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, and is set to be released in January 2021.

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The building that houses the IceCube servers. (credit:

Tantalizing hints have regularly turned up to indicate the existence of a sterile neutrino—a theoretical fourth type of neutrino separate from the three predicted by the Standard Model. Researchers have now searched for it using the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a powerful neutrino detector in Antarctica that is able to spot neutrinos of cosmic origin. Could this particle finally be found, ushering in a thrilling new era of physics?

No. IceCube’s search has turned up nothing, as revealed in results published today. The lack of detection doesn’t necessarily mean sterile neutrinos don’t exist, but it does put the strictest constraints on them yet, narrowing down the range of energies they could have and informing future studies on where to look.

Had sterile neutrinos been found, they would have explained anomalies in old research, revealed new physics beyond the Standard Model, and potentially provided clues for mysteries such as the nature of dark matter and the imbalance between matter and anti-matter in the Universe. “If you throw in a fourth neutrino, it changes everything,” said Francis Halzen, principal investigator for IceCube and one of the paper’s authors.

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The world of Harry Potter has become an industry. The books have sold hundreds of millions of copies around the world, the film adaptations raked in billions of dollars, and there are now real-life Hogwarts castles at Universal theme parks. But the latest creation born from the fantasy franchise is a decidedly old-school entity: it’s a play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Childshowing exclusively in London.

Most people won’t ever get to see the staged version for themselves—it’s already sold out for the next year—but fans can buy the script in book form (UK). Within two weeks of its release, it has already become controversial among fans. The play is nevertheless required reading if you liked the novels. It’s a genuine reinvention of the Potterverse with a new cast of Hogwarts students who create very different alliances than their parents’ generation did.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

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Long lines for Delta passengers at Logan Airport earlier this morning. (credit: Getty Images | Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe)

Chaos hit Delta Air Lines early on Monday morning as a loss of power at its Atlanta data center resulted in the airline grounding all its flights worldwide for several hours. Although the company’s planes are now taking to the air, Delta informed customers flying today to expect delays and cancellations.

The problem completely crippled the airline, knocking out flight operations and bookings. Although it is yet to be confirmed by Delta, a member of the FlyerTalk forums was told by the captain of their flight that the cause was a fire in the data center:

According to the flight captain of JFK-SLC this morning, a routine scheduled switch to the backup generator this morning at 2:30am caused a fire that destroyed both the backup and the primary. Firefighters took a while to extinguish the fire. Power is now back up and 400 out of the 500 servers rebooted, still waiting for the last 100 to have the whole system fully functional

This is the second severe IT-induced travel disruption in recent weeks. On July 20, Southwest Airlines lost a router in its Dallas data center, which resulted in 2,300 flight cancellations. Southwest’s CEO Gary Kelly described that event as a “once-in-thousand-year flood.”

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(credit: Hulu)

Hulu will reportedly stop offering free video, but that streaming service’s users still be able to find some of Hulu’s free shows thanks to a new business partnership with Yahoo.

In the next few days, Hulu will begin notifying customers of a plan to “shutter its offering of no-cost, ad-supported television and movies,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote today. Hulu has already de-emphasized its free offerings, attempting to push customers toward subscription plans that cost $8 to $12 a month.

“For the past couple years, we’ve been focused on building a subscription service that provides the deepest, most personalized content experience possible to our viewers,” Hulu Senior VP Ben Smith was quoted as saying. “As we have continued to enhance that offering with new originals, exclusive acquisitions, and movies, the free service became very limited and no longer aligned with the Hulu experience or content strategy.”

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