Episode 426 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

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US woman sues Lenovo and Superfish

A US woman is suing both Lenovo and Superfish, after the PC maker was found shipping laptops to consumers with Superfish adware pre-installed.

Security experts warn that Superfish adware leaves users vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks via a self-signed root certificate, which could allow a saboteur to intercept users’ encrypted SSL connections.

The Woman accused the firms of violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act, federal wiretap law and a state law governing unfair business competition.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published steps to uninstall Superfish. Lenovo stopped preloading the adware in January.


Lenovo website hacked, revenge for Superfish?

Hacking group Lizard Squad claimed credit for the attacks on  Twitter. Lenovo said attackers breached the domain name system associated with Lenovo and redirected visitors from lenovo.com to another address, while also intercepting internal company emails.

Lenovo has since released software to remove Superfish while pledging to never install it on future shipments.

Lizard Squad has taken credit for several high-profile outages, including attacks that took down Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live network last month. Members of the group have not been identified.


Tasmanian school among world’s first IBM-Apple deployments

IBM has revealed Tasmanian school St Virgil’s College as the first publicised example in the world of its Apple mobility push.

IBM has deployed 550 iPads and 900 licences for Fiberlink MaaS360 Mobile Device Management software to cover both the new and existing tablets at the northern Hobart boys’ school.

According to the IBM announcement, the mobile device management software from IBM brand Fiberlink allows the school administration to centrally provision “wireless access, app deployment, email setup, security and document distribution”.

St Virgil’s has both primary and secondary year pupils, and will use the MDM’s “group management features in order to monitor anything deemed inappropriate and control device settings as appropriate to each student’s age”.


PC reseller lands Woolworths as distribution channel

reseller Futu Online has become the first technology seller picked by eBay to have its products available for pickup at more than 90 Woolworths and Big W stores.

The eBay store is one of only a handful picked for the “click and collect” rollout, which will allow customers to pick up Futu Online orders from selected Woolworths and Big W stores, starting in Sydney and Tasmania.

eBay touted the arrangement as the “ultimate in shopping convenience”, with one seller describing Woolworths as a “ready made national network of physical stores”.

Of the six eBay sellers announced publicly so far, Futu Online is the only technology store with its products now available via Woolworths and Big W. Dick Smith, Officeworks and The Good Guys, which also have eBay stores, are also offering click and collect for their eBay users at their own stores.

eBay picked Futu Online because of their “high standards of customer service” including the offer of zero to one day handling and free tracked shipping, an eBay representative said. Futu Online’s eBay page states it tries to dispatch orders within three business days of verifying payment.

The Futu Online eBay store lists laptops from Asus, Toshiba, Sony, HP, Lenovo, and tablets from Microsoft, Sony, HP and others. The seller also lists desktop PCs, monitors, printers, ink and toner, hard drives, memory cards, PC components including CPUs and motherboards, cameras, iPhone accessories, software and other products.

eBay estimates 91 per cent of Australians live within 10km of a Woolworths store. Products from eBay sellers delivered via the stores must be less than 16kg in weight and 50cm by 40cm in size.


Aussie Microsoft partner joins Accenture on $100m home-buying system

Object Consulting has a system, called PEXA, reportedly cost $100 million to develop and will be a world-first once it is rolled out nationally

The goal has been likened to what the ASX did for share markets, with PEXA aiming to remove manual paperwork from property exchanges, reducing delays and stress for home buyers and sellers during settlement.

Buyers and sellers can see and complete documents to complete a property exchange, with PEXA helping users avoid rework due to paperwork conveyancing mistakes.

this month it became possible to conduct an online property transfer in Victoria using PEXA. The platform is also live in New South Wales, with full functionality coming in May for Queensland and Western Australia.

The Victorian launch “marks a huge milestone in PEXA becoming the first truly national online property exchange and settlement platform in the world“, PEXA chief executive officer Marcus Price stated.

Object Consulting, which is also performing a national rollout of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to 450 Mortgage Choice franchises.

The firm also earned the crown Microsoft Worldwide Cloud Partner of the Year for Small Business at Microsoft’s World Partner Conference (WPC) in Washington DC last year.


Police dept pays ransom after Cryptoware infection

The police department in a Chicago suburb paid an unknown hacker US$500 to regain access to data on a police computer infected with ransomware.

This is not the first time that a police department has shelled out money in order to regain access to sensitive data following a ransomware infection. In November 2013, a Massachusetts police department paid a US$750 ransom to unlock files as a result of the CryptoLocker malware.


YouTube: 10 years in 10 videos

10 years ago on 14 February 2005 when Youtube.com was registered as a domain.

the first video ever uploaded was a 19-second video of YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim stood in front of some elephants at San Diego Zoo.

10 years later – with one US$1.65 billion acquisition from Google

It boasts well over 1 billion active users, who between them upload over 300 hours of new content every minute.

youtube views in 2011 – 1 trillion

video views per day – 4 billion

hours of watched video per month – 6 billion


Google’s YouTube to launch kids’ app

It is understood that YouTube Kids will have parental controls and restrictions on who can upload content.

The app will run separately to the main YouTube service and it will initially be available in the US only,

The parental controls will include the ability to limit the amount of time children can spend watching videos, as well as a tool allowing the search function to be switched off, it is understood.

YouTube Kids will have channels and playlists organised into four categories: Shows, Music, Learning and Explore. Users will also be able to search for individual topics.

The app will be free, but it will be available on Google’s Android devices only.


Google machine learns to master video games

A machine has taught itself how to play and win video games, scientists say.

The computer program, which is inspired by the human brain, learned how to play 49 classic Atari games. In more than half, it was as good or better than a professional human player.

Researchers from Google DeepMind said this was the first time a system had learned how to master a wide range of complex tasks.

Dr Demis Hassabis, DeepMind’s vice president of engineering, said: “Up until now, self-learning systems have only been used for relatively simple problems.

“For the first time, we have used it in a perceptually rich environment to complete tasks that are very challenging to humans.”

“The only information we gave the system was the raw pixels on the screen and the idea that it had to get a high score. And everything else it had to figure out by itself.”

The team presented the machine with 49 different videogames, ranging from classics such as Space Invaders and Pong, to boxing and tennis games and the 3D-racing challenge Enduro.

In 29 of them, it was comparable to or better than a human games tester. For Video Pinball, Boxing and Breakout, its performance far exceeded the professional’s, but it struggled with Pac-Man, Private Eye and Montezuma’s Revenge.

“On the face it, it looks trivial in the sense that these are games from the 80s and you can write solutions to these games quite easily,” said Dr Hassabis.

“What is not trivial is to have one single system that can learn from the pixels, as perceptual inputs, what to do.

“The same system can play 49 different games from the box without any pre-programming. You literally give it a new game, a new screen and it figures out after a few hours of game play what to do.”


Google Street View maps Greenland

Google has extended its Street View feature to take in the scenes of sparsely populated Greenland.

The internet giant has published immersive images of some of the island’s most impressive landscapes, including the Ilulissat Icefjord and the Nuutoqaq harbour.

The images are immersive, meaning the user can rotate them in any direction. Another was of Brattahlid, the settlement founded by Erik the Red, who set up the first Viking colony on Greenland.

Erik the Red was a Norwegian, who discovered Greenland after being banished from Iceland.

He is said to have spread word of “the green land” among people living in Iceland on his return there in 985. Some Icelanders subsequently made the trip and decided to settle in Greenland.

His son Leif Eriksson later voyaged to North America – 500 years before Christopher Columbus.


David Thodey steps down as Telstra chief, replaced by Andrew Penn

Mr Thodey has been head of Telstra(TLS), the nation’s biggest telco, for almost six years.


Great, Drones Are Spying On Mobile Phone Signals Now

  • AdNear is self-described as “the leading location intelligence platform“. Basically, these data-driven marketers track mobile phone signals in order to throw hyper-targeted ads in your face.

  • AdNear’s been using a fleet of quadcopters to spy on people’s mobile phone signals, starting in Los Angeles.

  • The FAA probably isn’t going to do anything about it.

  • AdNear has already been using cars, trains, bikes and people on foot to locate wireless devices and to observe consumer behaviour.

  • The Singapore-based company brags that it’s already “profiled” over 530 million users this way in Asia.

  • The company assures that the wireless data collected is anonymous and does not include phone numbers, call data or any photography.

Police insider slams proposed metadata laws

  • THE government has been trying to push the ability to keep our metadata for two years, claiming it’s necessary for national security.

  • Critics argue that this would be a massive privacy breach, but the government believes it is necessary to protect Australia.

  • A recent Essential poll has shown that around 40 per cent of Australians support the introduction of the new metadata laws, while 44 per cent do not.

  • Even Telstra has labelled the storage of the data as a “honey pot for hackers.”

  • Speaking on Radio National’s Download This Show, one police insider revealed the flaws in the proposed system.

  • “There are only three different justifications (where) we have to access metadata; if someone’s life is being threatened, protection of government income, and (an) investigation of a crime punishable with at least two years in prison,” he said.

    • However, crimes punishable by two years jail can be for things as little as graffiti, meaning that more often than not, those investigating a criminal case will have access to metadata.

  • He also acknowledged why telcos and internet providers aren’t keen on the program, claiming it’s going to cost them big time — and it’s data needed by police, not the telcos themselves. The extra cost will likely be pushed back onto consumers.

Lenovo has just released an automatic Superfish removal tool

  • Lenovo has released a tool to help users remove Superfish, according to a statement released today by the company.

  • Superfish is an adware program that was preinstalled on Lenovo’s consumer PCs and made users vulnerable to attack.

  • The Superfish bug quickly went from bad to worse yesterday when researchers found and published a password that would allow anyone to unlock the certificate authority and bypass the computer’s web encryption.

  • With the password and the right software, a person on the same Wi-Fi network as a bugged Lenovo user could potentially spy on that user, or insert malware into the data stream.

  • The tool allows users to automatically uninstall the Superfish application and remove the certificate from web browsers, which previously could only be done manually.

  • Users with infected computers will need to uninstall Superfish and remove the certificate in order to completely fix the issue.

  • Superfish is present on Lenovo laptops sold between September 2014 and January 2015, although Lenovo says no Thinkpads were shipped with the adware.

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