Archive for March, 2012

GEIGER COUNTER APP FOR SMART PHONES AS A RESULT OF JAPANESE NUCLEAR ACCIDENT

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

GEIGER COUNTER APP FOR SMART PHONES EVOLVES FROM JAPANESE DISASTER

As a response to public fears about radiation levels following the Fukushima crisis, a Japanese organization called Radiation Watch has launched Pocket Geiger, a Geiger counter iPhone peripheral and accompanying app aimed at concerned individuals.

New Scientist reports that the peripheral has eight photodiode sensors to detect radiation and aluminum foil to screen alpha and beta particles. Second generation peripherals, known as Pokega Type2, do away with the need for batteries, using the connected iPhone as a power supply.

The app functions as the Geiger counter display, but also uploads data to a Radiation Watch server where readings are collectively mapped for an overview. Apparently there are over 10,000 users, though the viewing of maps is limited to Radiation Watch members.

The main advantage of the Pocket Geiger appears to be cost. Where a typical personal Geiger counter would cost well into three figures, the peripheral and app cost a mere US$46 – or $65 for the Pokega Type2.

Of course, the WikiSensor app we looked at last October did away with the peripheral entirely.

Sources: New Scientist, Radiation Watch

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

THOSE PRIVATE IPHONE PICS YOU HAVE ARE NOT SAFE FROM HACKERS

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

SO YOU THINK THE PHOTOS YOU HAVE ON YOUR IPHONE ARE PRIVATE?

SAN FRANCISCO: The private photos on your phone may not be as private as you think.

Developers of applications for Apple’s mobile devices, along with Apple itself, came under scrutiny this month after reports that some apps were taking people’s address book information without their knowledge.

As it turns out, address books are not the only things up for grabs.

Photos are also vulnerable. After a user allows an application on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to have access to location information, the app can copy the user’s entire photo library, without any further notification or warning, according to app developers.

It is unclear whether any apps in Apple’s App Store are illicitly copying user photos.

Although Apple’s rules do not specifically forbid photo copying, Apple says it screens all apps submitted to the store, a process that should catch nefarious behaviour on the part of developers.

But copying address book data was against Apple’s rules, and the company approved many popular apps that collected that information.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

The first time an application wants to use location data, for mapping or any other purpose, Apple’s devices ask the user for permission, noting in a pop-up message that approval “allows access to location information in photos and videos.”

When the devices save photo and video files, they typically include the coordinates of the place they were taken — creating another potential risk.

On phones and tablets running Google’s Android software, apps must ask for approval before transmitting any photos.

On Apple devices, full access to the photo library was first permitted in 2010 when Apple released the fourth version of iOS. The change was intended to make photo apps more efficient.

The knowledge that this capability exists is not new, developers say, but it was assumed that Apple would ensure that apps that inappropriately exploited it did not make it into the App Store. Based on recent revelations, phone owners cannot be sure.

“Apple has a tremendous responsibility as the gatekeeper to the App Store and the apps people put on their phone to police the apps,” said David Jacobs, a fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

“Apple and app-makers should be making sure people understand what they are consenting to. It is pretty obvious that they aren’t doing a good enough job of that.”

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha
www.intelagencies.com

WATER CHARGING LOW SMARTPHONE BATTERY & OTHER GADGETS

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Everyones  nightmare of the gadget world – a smartphone low on battery.

Now Swedish group myFC says its water-powered charger could be the fix anywhere while battery giant Duracell is championing a push for cars and even stadiums to be built with energy “mats” that would power up phones.

A Californian firm, meanwhile, has launched a phone that it claims can remain charged for up to 15 years, making it the perfect spare in emergencies or disasters.

“The difference between the energy on a phone and the energy we consume is increasing. We need to charge more often but you don’t want to be hooked onto a wall,” said myFC chief executive Bjorn Westerholm.

His firm has therefore come up with a portable fuel cell charger which is slightly larger than a compact camera and which uses just one spoonful of water and a small metallic device called a fuel puck, to fully charge an iPhone.

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The PowerTrekk could appeal most to campers, aid workers or the military, said Westerholm, who is exhibiting the charger at the world’s biggest mobile fair in Barcelona.

“It could be sea water, fresh water. You need to carry water with you to survive anyway and the PowerTrekk needs just one spoonful,” he said.

“So you can Facebook, email even when you’re in the outdoors for hours.

“Our value proposition is that you don’t need to go to the grid. You don’t need to wait to charge your phone.”

Competition for solutions to power up phones is fierce.

XPAL Power rolled out a phone with a battery that “lasts 15 years,” said Christian Scheder, chairman of the Californian firm.

The so-called Spareone, which will be commercialised in March, remains charged for up to 15 years if the phone is turned off, and for two months if it is on.

“This is great for emergency, disaster situations,” Scheder said.

Battery giant Duracell meanwhile has its own vision to keep the world charged.

It is championing the PowerMat system, a mat which looks like a small tablet that plugs into the power source and which has sufficient space to charge two phones which are equipped with special protective covers.

But that is just the beginning, Stassi Anastassov, Duracell President, said.

Beyond just targeting consumers with the charging kit, Duracell is at the Mobile World Congress to talk phone manufacturers into designing a slot for a special chip or even build it into the telephone, thereby doing away with the protective covers that are currently required to dock with the mat.

The company further wants to fit the mats in public places, for instance, build them into tables at fast-food chains, thereby allowing anyone with equipped phones to charge up anytime.

It already has a deal with General Motors to fit all vehicles from 2013 with the charging mat. Likewise, it has an agreement to equip New York’s Madison Square Garden, starting with bar tabletops.

“Of course it will take many years, the whole ecosystem will not be up tomorrow,” said Anastassov.

“But our vision is that you will be able to never go out of power, simply by facilitating the whole charging process for you.

“It’s very similar to banking and money. If you want to have cash, you can either have a very big wallet full of money or you have an ATM card,” he said.

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

SMART PHONES-IPHONES-ANDROIDS NOW EASILY HACKED BY AVAILABLE SOFTWARE

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

HACKING INTO IPHONES ANDROIDS & SMART PHONES IS EASY

The security threat to mobile devices is now very real and there is a wave of new exploits that has allowed hackers to eavesdrop on smartphones – even when you’re not connected to a phone call, writes Lia Timson.

Phone crashing regularly? Strange SMS bothering you for an update or a juicy link? It’s time to wise up to mobile malware.

Security experts have shown that iPhones and Android phones are quite vulnerable to the same type of “drive-by” attacks that have long plagued PC users.

A team of researchers infected a Google Android smartphone overnight, live, in front of a packed audience of computer security buffs to prove how mobile malware is now on the cusp of the big time, after so many years of unfulfilled predictions.

George Kurtz, co-author of Hacking Exposed, former McAfee security champion and now at the helm of CrowdStrike alongside Dmitri Alperovitch, demonstrated how the team designed a smartphone remote access tool (RAT) and eavesdrop operation.

They then set about buying the necessary items to make it happen, later coding, then executing the attack on their demo phone.

“We believe we are here today and on the cusp of what we’re going to see in the future. If you think of what a smartphone has the capability to do, it’s the ultimate spying tool. Always powered on, always connected, travels around with us at all times,” Kurtz began.

“If you haven’t figured out privacy is dead, this is going to do it for you.”

The scenario was a competitor wanting to intercept calls and text messages on Kurtz’s phone and the attack was Webkit-based. Webkit is a tool used by Apple, Google and RIM to render HTML websites in Safari, Chrome and Android, and the latest versions of the BlackBerry, respectively.

The team bought 20 Webkit vulnerabilities – or bugs – in the underground for $US1400, spent approximately $US14,000 developing the malware code (“weaponisation phase”) and engineering root access, as well as building their own command and control centre to be able to harvest the fruits of their exploits.

The attack followed several steps: the first was a text message delivered to the smartphone appearing to come from the mobile carrier requesting a system update via a link. Once clicked, the drive-by link delivered the first part of the malware to the phone to elevate access (root) privilege, then cause it to crash.

It then automatically rebooted, executing the second part of the malware and hijacking the phone’s communications.

When Kurtz made a call to Alperovitch, the audience could hear the live conversation – as well as what was said before the call connected. On the command and control centre’s screen, a map positioned Kurtz and Alperovitch’s locations, the start of transmission, and the text of a subsequent text message Alperovitch sent Kurtz.

They said the attack did not require a phone be jailbroken and would work on any of the devices using Webkit – although this particular code was customised for the Adroid 2.2 (Froyo) version.

Kurtz told Fairfax Media such an attack would be possible on the iPhone because of the root access obtained via the browser vulnerability.

“We would have to get code execution via the browser, then escalate our privilege to root and totally bypass the app store [as we did] with Android.

“This is the point we are making: drive-by attacks will hit the phone just like the PCs,” he said.

But he said he didn’t want the audience to develop a bout of paranoia.

“The sky is not falling, these are very targeted attacks.”

BTBMYN

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha