Will The Recent Disasters Spur On A New Era Of Drones?

The prospect of drones one-day delivering mail, performing rescue operations, or missions deemed too dangerous for humans has been continuously proposed as a dream of the future being offered now. Before September, the drone business was in a limbo of pros and cons, with every article of success having a counterstory of some failure. However, after the recent natural disasters drone designing companies are convinced that a new ear of drones is approaching. During Hurricane Harvey, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned amateur drone pilots to avoid flying, as they would likely do more harm than good. After an initial delay of operations, however, certified pilots were asked for help.

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New MIT-developed System Can Make Websites on any Browser Load Faster

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“Computer scientists at the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a system that can reliably make websites load 34 per cent faster.”

Over the years websites have gotten more complex, leaving certain websites sluggish and even unresponsive becoming a problem for companies such as Amazon, who say that “for every one-second delay in loading time, their profits are cut by one per cent.”

However, a team of researchers working at the university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, may have found the solution.

The system, named Polaris, cuts loading times by determining the best way to ‘overlap’ the downloading of different parts of a webpage. Polaris works by tracking the relationships and dependencies between objects like pictures, videos, and HTML files, on the page and turning the information into a ‘dependency graph’ that can be interpreted by your browser.

When tested, Polaris was found to have loaded some of the world’s most popular websites on an average of 34 per cent faster when compared to a normal browser.

“Polaris could be used on any website and with unmodified browsers, and when tech companies like Google and Amazon are working hard to improve load-times, a similar system might appear on your device soon.”

Can Malware Turn Your Technology into an Eavesdropping Device?

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According to researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), there are many malicious programs just waiting to turn computers into personal eavesdropping devices. Researchers explained as well as demonstrated just how easily most PCs and laptops are susceptible to this form of attack.

Programs such as “SPEAKE(a)R: Turn Speakers to Microphones for fun and profit” are able to transform headphones into a pair of microphones, without setting of unease. “‘The fact that headphones, earphones and speakers are physically built like microphones and that an audio port’s role in the PC can be reprogrammed from output to input creates a vulnerability that can be abused by hackers,’ says Prof. Yuval Elovici, director of the BGU Cyber Security Research Center (CSRC) and member of BGU’s Department of Information Systems Engineering.”

“‘This is the reason people like Facebook Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg tape up their mic and webcam,’ says Mordechai Guri, lead researcher and head of Research and Development at the CSRC. ‘You might tape the mic, but would be unlikely to tape the headphones or speakers.'”

Malware is able to covertly reconfigure a headphone jack from a line-out jack to a microphone jack, converting the headphones into a hackable recording device that is predicted to have a range of several meters. Even worse, this process is able to continue even while the computer doesn’t have a connected microphone–and was demonstrated by the researchers in the SPEAKE(a)R video.  

Countermeasures, however, are possible, such as completely disabling audio hardware or using an HD audio driver to send an alert when microphones are being accessed. Extra precautions can be taken with anti-malware systems, which can monitor and detect unauthorized speaker-to-mic retasking operations and block them.

Smartphones Leave Your Car Vulnerable to Hackers

Credit: NYU Tandon: Damon McCoy

Recent studies have shown that an always present but generally ignored component in almost every vehicle can leave the user vulnerable to hacking attacks.

Damon McCoy, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, along with a few students from George Mason University, conducted what is believed to be the first comprehensive security analysis of its kind. They found that MirrorLink, a system with rules that allow vehicles to connect to smartphones, contained an easily accessible liability.

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New Study Allows Secure Data To Be Sent Through Body Instead of Wifi

 

Researchers have developed a new system that allows secure information, such as passwords, to be sent through a person’s body rather than “easy to hack” Wifi or Bluetooth signal.

“Computer scientist and electrical engineers have found a way to broadcast signals from a fingerprint scanner or touchpad through the body to a receiving device that is also in contact with the user.” This systems allows for a secure means of transporting information that does not require a password.

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