Episode 351 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes


Android master key flaw used in the wild

Attackers have begun exploiting a major Android vulnerability that allows them to take over a victim’s phone without altering the digital signature of a targeted app.

The attacks exploited the “master key” flaw in several popular apps marketed to Chinese-speaking Android users.


This enabled attackers to remotely control victims’ phones, send premium SMS messages and disable security software on the device, Symantec researchers said.


In addition, they could steal data stored on the phone, such as international mobile station equipment identity (IMEI) and phone numbers.


So far, researchers have detected six hijacked apps affecting Android users: a popular card game, an arcade game, a betting and lottery app, a news app and two apps that help users find and schedule doctor’s appointments.


an estimated 900 million devices were impacted since the bug can be exploited in any Android phone released in the last four years.


Symantec security response manager Satnam Narang said the infected apps were found in third-party online stores in China, but only time will tell whether the threat will make its way to the United States.


The app from Duo Security and Northeastern is called ReKey and it’s available in the Google Play market and is designed to fix the vulnerability in the absence of a patch from the carrier. http://threatpost.com/new-app-rekey-fixes-android-master-key-vulnerability

Aussie ‘net speeds ‘peak’ above 26 Mbps for the first time

Australia’s “peak” internet connection speed increased by 2.9 Mbps between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, to 26.3 Mbps.


The “peak” speed number is an average of the “highest connection speed calculated from each unique IP address” that hits up an Akamai HTTP/S platform for web content.


The latest report pegs the average speed experienced by Australian fixed-line internet users at 4.7 Mbps. Three years ago, the average was closer to 2.5 Mbps.



Apple dev site hacker emerges

A Turkish developer in London claims he was the person who hacked the Apple developer site, and says he has the details of over 100,000 registered users in his possession.


Balic calls himself a security researcher and said he had found thirteen bugs that had been reported to Apple. He had not heard back from Apple over the reports and the silence appears to be the reason Balic penetrated the developer site, which was shut down last Thursday and only reopened yesterday.


I have taken 73 users details (all apple inc workers only) and prove them as an example,” Balic wrote in his TechCrunch comment.

“My aim was to report bugs and collect the datas for the porpoise [sic] of seeing how deep I can go within this scope. I have over 100.000+ users details and Apple is informed about this. I didn’t attempt to get the datas first and report then, instead I have reported first.

A mixed bag for Apple’s Q3 results

Apple sold a record number of iPhones 31.2 million in the June quarter, up from 26 million last year. However, Apple sold just 14.6 million iPads compared to 17 million last year, and the number of Mac computers sold fell from four million to 3.8 million.


“We are especially proud of our record June quarter iPhone sales of over 31 million and the strong growth in revenue from iTunes, Software and Services,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a statement


Surface RT a sales failure for Microsoft

the Surface RT, has failed in the market, leading to a massive write-down.

Microsoft locked in  aA$981.5 million “inventory adjustment” for Surface RT.


This week, Microsoft lowered the price of the device by thirty per cent to A$389.


Bill Gates might ‘return to his old post’ at Microsoft

In the wake of Microsoft’s $900 million write-down for Surface RT, “there’s speculation about the return of Gates to power as he attempts to put order in the company he founded in the early 70s,” according to the report by Australian International Business Times on Monday


Talk about Gates returning to Microsoft surfaces like clockwork every time Microsoft has a bad quarter, along with predictions that CEO Steve Ballmer will be shown the door. But Gates has made it clear that he has no intention of returning to Microsoft on a full-time basis.


Microsoft partners feel that the company needs an infusion of founder leadership.



Big Blue to boost Gold Coast’s IQ

IBM has named the Gold Coast as the latest recipient of its IBM Smarter Cities Grant.


The arrangement is pro bono in nature and will see IBM gift the city best of breed solutions directed towards improving its public safety disaster response capabilities in preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.


Launched in 2011, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is three-year, $US50 million philanthropic initiative by Big Blue. The Gold Coast brings to three the number of IBM smart cities in Australia, with Townsville and Geraldton already on board.

Telstra to Vodafone: back down

Telstra plans on extending coverage of its high speed 4F LTE network to 85 percent of the population by the end of the year.

Vodafone labelles its services as the fastest 4G network in Australia. This claim has lead Telstra to send a strongly-worded legal letter to the carrier, with the threat of challenging Vodafone’s claims in court.


In its advertising material, Vodafone is non-specific about its 4G speeds, simply claiming it is up to three times faster than home broadband. Telstra, on the other hand, makes specific claims for the performance of its 4G network. According to the Telstra website, 4G customes can expect download speeds between 2Mbps and 40Mbps, subject to location, network congestion and so on.


Last August, we committed to extending our 4G coverage to 66 per cent of Australians by June 30. Having met that target, we are now committing to have superfast services in place for 85 per cent of the population by the end of the year Telstra said


Vodafone continues to shed mobile customers at an alarming rate in Australia, losing 551,000 in the first half of this year.

Huawei revealed  that its 5G replacement will be available in 2020.


Hulu And Vdio Lodge Australian Trade Marks

According to the trademark sentinels over at TM Watch, both Hulu and Vdio (the video streaming offshoot of Rdio) snapped up Australian trade mark applications last week.

Intriguingly, the trade mark lodged by Hulu encompasses a range of specific classes including Class 9(“Recordable and pre-recorded media; digital media, namely, streaming or downloadable audio-visual content in the fields of news, entertainment, sports, comedy, drama, music, and music videos; computer software, namely, downloadable players for audio-visual content”), Class 28 (“Action skill games; arcade games; board games; card games; balls; balloons; video games”) and Class 42 (“Computer services, namely, hosting a website featuring audio-visual content in the fields of news, entertainment, sports, comedy, drama, music, and music videos”).

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be getting either service any time soon. Netflix has beenmaking noises about launching in Australian for years, and it too holds an Australian trade mark, which was registered back in 2012. And yet, we still haven’t received an official local version of the service.

Should You Bring Your Laptop On Holidays?

I am going on annual leave next week, and a couple of kind-hearted people with my best interests in mind have suggested that perhaps I leave my (work) laptop at home. I did my best not to laugh in their faces because that is ridiculous. Of course I am bringing my laptop.

Should you bring your laptop/other work gadgets with you to paradise if you (maybe) can avoid it? Do you bring them regardless? Do you do it enthusiastically or with a cavalcade of sighs? Is there a right answer here?


Telstra Expanding 4G To 85 Per Cent Of Aussies By Christmas

Telstra has announced this afternoon that it’s expanding its 4G coverage to 85 per cent of the nation’s population by Christmas this year, with a big focus on regional coverage.

Unlike other telcos like Optus and particularly Vodafone, Telstra has had a substantial head start when it comes to its network roll-out. Right now, it’s the largest 4G provider in the country in terms of coverage and plans to continue that lead with today’s announcement.

As of right now, Telstra says that it has made good on its promise from last year to expand its 4G network to 66 per cent of the Australian population, and has pledged to expand to 85 per cent by Christmas.

Telstra calls it a “Christmas present for its customers”: a 1500-base station upgrade program to power up 4G to more of the nation by year’s end.

The 4G network is currently being slammed with traffic. There are now 2.1 million 4G networks on the Telstra network, with traffic growing by an average of 23 per cent month-on-month, and the telco is now assuring us that it will deploy 4G smarter to tackle congestion issues. The breakdown of those devices goes as follows: 1.4m handsets, 150,000 tablets 370,000 dongles and 320,000 hotspots are using the network.

Telstra is also stacking spectrum in regions like Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth on the 1800MHz band to compete directly with Vodafone’s 20MHz of contiguous spectrum by offering the same amount. Telstra is also stacking spectrum in Sydney and Melbourne, now offering 15MHz of contiguous spectrums around those capitals.


You Won’t Believe How Much Netflix Crops Your Movies

Did you know that Netflix is cropping the hell out of movies? I didn’t. But even if you had noticed, it’s unlikely you realise just how bad it gets. A semi-new Tumblr called What Netflix Does has pointed out the extent of the trimming. And it’s atrocious.

If you were born before, let’s say, 2000, you’re probably used to seeing the following disclaimer before the start of a movie:

This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen.

Well, as you can surmise, Netflix doesn’t give you any such warnings. Most everything is shot in a 16:9 aspect ratio, and it appears that Netflix is cropping the 2.39:1 image from the original frame to fill your television screen, which results in the following:



Huawei’s New Phone Is The Fastest 4G Phone In Australia

The Huawei Ascend P2 is packing a 1.5GHz quad-core processor built in-house, Android Jelly Bean and a 13-megapixel camera, a 2420mAh battery, and 32GB of internal storage, all sheltered underneath a great-looking 4.7-inch in-cell display (315ppi), but that’s not what makes it special.

The P2 is Australia’s first Category 4 LTE/4G device. That means it’s capable of speeds greater than any 4G smartphone on the market right now. Category 3 devices are only capable of 4G speeds up to 100Mbps, but a Category 4 device charges that right up to 150Mbps down. Compare that to previous wireless generations and you find that DC-HSPA is only capable of 42Mbps, while HSPA+ can only muster 21Mbps.

Telstra is the only carrier capable of Category 4 LTE/4G right now, and as such it’s the only carrier that will be offering the device on plans. Adelaide and Brisbane are the first two capital cities with Category 4 4G enabled on the network right now, but more cities are coming.

You’ll be able to get the nation’s first Category 4 device from Telstra for $0 upfront on a $60 Every Day Connect Plan for 24 months. That $60 plan gives you $600 of included calls, text and MMS and 1GB of included data. If you’d rather buy it outright, you can get it for $504.

NASA’s 3D-Printed Rocket Injector Test: A Beautiful Inferno

NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne tested their first 3D-printed rocket engine injector today. What you see above is the little guy passing the test with flying — and flaming — colours. Success is a beautiful thing.

The process used to create the injector, which NASA likes to call “additive manufacturing”, is actually a step or two more insanely awesome than your average molten-plastic variety of 3D printing. NASA’s method involves using lasers blasts to melt stacks of metal powder into gadgets that can sustain rocket blasts. And if tests continue to go this well, NASA could soon be using laser blasts to melt metal powder into entire spacecraft.

Hackers Ban US Authorities From Attending DEF CON This Year

The Obama administration’s big push for improved cyber security just hit a roadblock after the organisers for the hacker conference DEF CON banned feds from attending. Maybe next year?

In a letter posted on the event’s website late Wednesday night, DEF CON founder Jeff Moss said very plainly that “it would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a ‘time-out’ and not attend DEF CON this year” in light of recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s overzealous spying on Americans. “The community is digesting things that the Feds have had a decade to understand and come to terms with,” Moss told Reuters after posting the letter. “A little bit of time and distance can be a healthy thing, especially when emotions are running high.”

This is a big deal because DEF CON is arguably the federal government’s biggest opportunity to recruit hackers over to their side. Again, cyber security is a huge priority for the Obama administration, and over the next five years, the Pentagon will spend some $US23 billion beefing up the nation’s capabilities. And the NSA is leading the charge. In fact, the NSA is so serious about recruiting hackers from DEF CON, they have a special page set up on their career site for attendees. (Ironically, in last year’s message the agency says, “Maybe by the time DEF CON 21 rolls around, you’ll have a whole new perspective on the importance of what you do.”)

Feds, we need some time apart.

For over two decades DEF CON has been an open nexus of hacker culture, a place where seasoned pros, hackers, academics, and feds can meet, share ideas and party on neutral territory. Our community operates in the spirit of openness, verified trust, and mutual respect.

When it comes to sharing and socializing with feds, recent revelations have made many in the community uncomfortable about this relationship. Therefore, I think it would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a “time-out” and not attend DEF CON this year.

This will give everybody time to think about how we got here, and what comes next.

The Dark Tangent



UK to automatically filter ‘adult’ internet content

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced an agreement signed with the country’s four largest internet service providers to have home network-based internet filters switched on by default for subscribers by the end of next year

In a speech delivered on Monday, the prime minister said the government had reached an agreement with BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky to, by the end of 2013, have all new subscribers prompted to install ‘family-friendly’ filters at the time of subscription, with the default set to have the filter turned on.

“And, in a really big step forward, all the ISPs have rewired their technology so that once your filters are installed, they will cover any device connected to your home internet account,” Cameron said.

“No more hassle of downloading filters for every device, just one click protection. One click to protect your whole home and keep your children safe.”

Once activated, the filter can only be switched off by the account holder, who must be an adult, Cameron said.


Ubuntu launches crowdfunding effort to manufacture a PC-level Edge superphone

Canonical has embarked on what it claims is “the biggest ever crowdfunding campaign” to develop and manufacture a Ubuntu Edge smartphone that company founder and funder Mark Shuttleworth says is a mobile phone with the specification of a low-end laptop. This will be “a new class of device which brings forward what we see as the inevitable convergence of the phone and the PC,” aimed primarily at enterprises and enthusiasts — “people like us,” said Shuttleworth.

Canonical is using Indiegogo to raise $32 million (£21.5 million) over 30 days. This will finance a limited production run of 40,000 phones.

“Backers committing $600 (£394) on day one, or $830 (£532) thereafter, will receive one of these groundbreaking mobile devices in May 2014,” according to Canonical. Enterprises can buy a bundle of 100 phones for $80,000, including some online support.

“If we don’t get the money, we’re not going to do it,” Shuttleworth added.

Telstra’s takeover bid for Adam falls through

Telstra’s proposed acquisition of Adelaide-based ISP Adam Internet will not go ahead after the telcos failed to address concerns held by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

In October last year, Telstra had signed a deal rumoured to be worth up to AU$60 million to buy out the South Australian ISP to turn it into a national Jetstar-like budget ISP to target the low-cost sector of the market where BigPond can’t currently compete.

Telstra’s competitors, including iiNet, Macquarie Telecom, Vodafone, and Optus, all raised concerns with the regulator that because Telstra is the wholesale owner of the fixed copper network in Australia, it would offer a better price to Adam than it does to its retail competitors.

The deal needed the approval of the ACCC in order to go ahead, but chair Rod Sims said in December that the deal could result in a substantial lessening of competition in the fixed voice and broadband retail market in Australia.


SkyDrive on par with C: Drive in Windows 8.1

Among the newly-revealed features is the ability for Windows Store apps to save to or load from SkyDrive, without users having to make any adjustments other than setting up a SkyDrive account.

Another newly-disclosed feature is “placeholders” that will, Microsoft writes, “look and feel like normal folders and files” but don’t refer to a local copy of the data they contain. That won’t arrive until users click on the file, at which point it will download. In this way Microsoft hopes to preserve disk space on mobile devices.

Caching of image thumbnails means browsing photos will be possible without requiring users to download the whole image.

Combined with another new feature, the ability to denote which SkyDrive sub-folders will automatically sync and which won’t, Microsoft says local storage requirements have plummeted to as little as five per cent of previous levels.

Another nice addition is collection of metadata from SkyDrive for inclusion in Windows 8.1’s local index, as this will mean search results should list files on the C: Drive and in SkyDrive, even if those files aren’t yet stored locally.


Chromecast Is Google’s Answer To Getting Web Video On Your TV

Chromecast. This is Google’s vision for how Chrome can help unite your experience across all of the many screens we’ve got. And you better believe it’s all about video. Who knew a little $35 dongle could change the way you watch forever?

Chromecast, according to Google, will have close to zero setup time. Just pop the little flash-drive shaped device into your TV’s HDMI port, connect it to your home Wi-Fi, and then you’re ready to wirelessly transfer what you’re watching on your computer, phone or tablet on your TV.

if the application you’re using on your phone or other device supports Chromecast, there will be a little “Cast” button. Hit it, and just like that, it will land on your TV. From there, you can control playback from multiple devices if you’d like.

And it doesn’t stop with YouTube — all supported applications will have the cast button. In the demo today, we were shown Netflix, Google Play Movies, TV and Music. Google says Pandora is coming soon.


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