Category Archives: Other

Stagefright Gives Android Users Something to Fright About

A few months ago people were talking about the latest bug  in iOS that would cause the phone to crash if someone sent a specific set of characters via a text message (which has been fixed).  Now it appears that it is Android’s turn.  This new bug is being called Stagefright which allows an attacker to remotely execute code on another person’s Android device that they received via MMS messages.

The exploit was publicly announced on July 27, 2015 by the security firm Zimperium.  Researchers say that the bug originated in a core component called “Stagefright” which is a library that is used to play various multimedia formats that are integral in displaying the contents included in MMS messages.  The reason why this issue is so serious is because that it can execute on a user’s device without you actually doing anything.

Furthermore, this bug has been in the Android operating system since version 2.2 which means that roughly 1 billion devices can be potentially infected with malware due to this flaw.  While Google and Samsung are working hard to push out a security fix to ultimately patch this bug, Zimperium has released an app that can be installed on your device to check to see if your Android device has been infected.

If you want to learn more about this bug, watch the video below which demonstrates the Stagefright bug:


Microsoft Publicly Releases Windows 10 IoT Core

After Build this year, Microsoft had releases the Windows 10 IoT Core Preview. Well, today is the day that the full and public release is available, and it’s available at everyone’s favorite price: free.

Windows 10 IoT Core is created for smaller devices that may or may not have a display. You can run it on the Raspberry Pi 2 or the MinnowBoard Max.

Since Windows 10 IoT Core is designed for devices that might not have displays, there is no interface. It’s just the Windows 10 Core. You would write a Windows 10 Universal app to create your own interface.

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Windows RT 8.1 Update 3 Will Not Support Universal Apps

When Windows 10 was first announced, we had heard that Windows RT would not get Windows 10; however, it would feature a subset of features.

If you asked anyone who had a Windows RT device, the one feature that mattered was universal app support and sadly, they will not get this wish. The reasoning is sound.

To be clear, that Windows RT update, called Windows RT 8.1 Update 3, will feature start menu and lock screen improvements.

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Cortana on Android can Now be Set as Default

You’ve probably heard that Cortana is now available on Android as a beta. After all, the APK leaked all over the Internet like a money shot in a porno.

Well, Cortana on Android just got updated and it’s one of the most important features it could have. Users of the beta can now set Cortana as the default on Android, just as they previously could with Bing or Google Now.

If you’re interested in grabbing the Cortana beta for Android, you still can. Just fill out a survey and Microsoft will get back to you.

Source: Windows Central

Why Your Car Is Insecure

You may not know this, but most of you drove into work today in a computer.  Don’t believe me?  Oh, maybe because you commonly refer to it as your car.  For the past 40 years car manufacturers have been making cars with computers that typically are located in proximity to the automobiles engine.  The on-board computer controls many things including fuel injection, the anti-lock braking system (ABS), gear shifting, and diagnostics (you know, the infamous check engine light) to name a few.

However over the past decade manufacturers have started to add more smarts into the cars, specifically to the entertainment system.  Bluetooth, iPod and USB connectors, as well as WiFi all add the ability to connect 3rd party devices to your car.  As consumers we have taken all of these new features for granted but now we are going to need to rethink these capabilities because they are being used also as attack vectors for hackers.

Over the past year more and more reports have been surfacing regarding groups of people who have been able to successfully hack into the car’s computer and expose some serious exploits.  Last month Chrysler recalled 1.4 million of Dodge Rams, Vipers, Durangos, Chargers and Jeeps due to a flaw in their UConnect entertainment system which could allow an attacker to gain control of critical functions such as braking, steering, speed control, and the transmission.  Then this week Tesla Model S cars pushed out a patch to a flaw that could allow hackers to take control of the vehicle (The details of this hack will be announced during Def Con).  I am pretty sure that we will be hearing more car hacks relating to other car makers in the up coming months too.

The major problem is that there is a design flaw in the how the components in the car connect to the computer.  They use a standard protocol called CAN bus which is similar to the internal bus in typical computers.  Car manufacturers say that the components are “firewalled” from the entertainment system but clearly this isn’t enough.  They need to go back to the drawing board and physically separate the entertainment system from the CAN bus and this will prevent these types of attacks from happening in future model cars.  But there is no word yet whether or not manufacturers are going to be taking this route.  For now if you get a recall letter for your car you should always take it seriously and get your car fixed, regardless of the reason.

Moore’s Law: Its Days are Numbered

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the famous computer observation known as Moore’s law.  Moore’s law is named after the co-founder of Intel, Gordon Moore, which predicted that the number of transistors that you can print on integrated circuits (or ICs) doubles roughly every 18 months.  This law has been consist with the industry trend over the past five decades and as a result we have enjoyed the outcome of faster, smaller, and less expensive components used in computers.

Gordon Moore

However it looks now that Moore’s law may be in trouble.  As we have developed smaller and smaller transistors in the last few years we are now getting down to the nanometer (nm) level in terms of size.  To give you an idea how small a nanometer is if you blew up 1 nanometer to the size of a meter stick (about 3 feet) 1 meter in comparison would be over 600 miles long.  This is roughly the driving distance from New York City to Detroit!

The issue when you start working on these small sizes is that the chip manufacturers have to deal with issues on the quantum level.  Electrons start doing funny things such as spontaneously coming into and out of existence (also known as electron tunneling).  There are also current leakages that cause the chip to incorrectly report a gate as set as open even though it is supposed to be closed.  These ill effects prevent the making of reliable ICs.

But chip makers are not ready to throw in the towel yet.  Currently Intel is down to the 14nm which is about the width of about 150 atoms.  Furthermore, there was a report from IBM a few weeks ago saying that they have been able to cut that number in half to 7nm.  But at some point it looks like we may not be able to get any smaller and it may be sooner than we think.

Microsoft is Open Sourcing Windows Bridge for iOS

While the Windows 10 launch has come and gone, there is still much to be desired. For one thing, we’re still waiting for the various bridges that Microsoft announced, such as the Windows Bridge for iOS, also known as Project Islandwood.

While Project Islandwood won’t be officially available until the Fall, Microsoft is throwing the code up on Github.

In a related article, Microsoft made it clear that this is not about porting iOS apps. They are not running in an emulator. Visual Studio 2015 will compile Objective-C code into native universal apps.

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For the Love of Tech Windows 10 Universal App is Live!

This is something that I’m very excited about. I’ve been working on this for a long time, and the official For the Love of Tech Windows 10 universal app is now live in the Store, and it’s absolutely FREE!

If you’re still on Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1, you can still grab version 2.0. If you’re on Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview, you’re still going to get version 2.0 of the For the Love of Tech app. The reason is because the mobile side of the Universal Windows App requires Windows 10 Mobile build 10240 or better, which hasn’t been publicly released. You can download version 2.0 right now, and as soon as Microsoft pushed out a new Windows 10 Mobile build, you’ll be updated

You can download the official For the Love of Tech universal app right here from the Windows 10 Store!

The Windows 10 DVD Player App is Now Available

You might have heard that Windows 10 would not support Media Center. It’s kind of a big deal. All three people that use it are really upset.

Microsoft did promise a replacement, a DVD Player app. The DVD Player app is free from the Store, assuming that you upgraded to Windows 10 from a PC that had a version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 that had Media Center.

If you upgraded from any other version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, the DVD Player app is $14.99. You can download it right here.

Apple Releases Xcode 7 Beta 5 to Everyone!

Today, Apple released another round of betas. Since we’ve seen two Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan betas since we saw the last Xcode 7, iOS 9, or WatchOS 2 beta, we didn’t see a new Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan beta today, but we got everything else.

As has been the case since WWDC, Xcode 7 Beta 5 is still free for anyone that wants to grab it.

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