Episode 538 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes



Apple Mac computers targeted by ransomware and spyware

Mac users are being warned about new variants of malware that have been created specifically to target Apple computers.

One is ransomware that encrypts data and demands payment before files are released.

The other is spyware that watches what users do and scoops up valuable information.


The two programs were uncovered by the security firms Fortinet and AlienVault, which found a portal on the Tor “dark web” network that acted as a shopfront for both.


Those wishing to use either of the programs had been urged to get in touch and provide details of how they wanted the malware to be set up. The malware’s creators had said that payments made by ransomware victims would be split between themselves and their customers.

Researchers at Fortinet contacted the ransomware writers pretending they were interested in using the product and, soon afterwards, were sent a sample of the malware.


Statistics gathered by McAfee suggest that there are now about 450,000 malicious programs aimed at Macs – far fewer than the 23 million targeting Windows users.



Australia’s small banks offer Samsung Pay



Cuscal has struck a deal to allow credit unions and banks to offer Samsung Pay in addition to Apple Pay.


38 financial institutions would offer Samsung Pay via Cuscal, including Defence Bank, Teachers Mutual Bank, Credit Union Australia and Woolworths Employees’ Credit Union.

About 1.7 million cardholders will be able to avail themselves of Samsung Pay, assuming they have compatible Samsung mobile or smartwatch devices.


Samsung Pay is also available through Westpac, Citibank and American Express.

Samsung said it had struck “more than 870 bank partnerships worldwide” for its Pay service and said there had been “more than 240 million transactions processed over the past year and a half.”

Turnbull govt wants to force companies to break encryption

The Australian government wants to introduce laws that would force technology companies to ensure their systems are capable of decrypting communications.


The plan is a response to the use of encrypted communications channels by terrorists, and follows in the footsteps of the United Kingdom’s moves to force communications operators to make sure they can hand over encrypted messages to law enforcement agencies.


They impose obligations on operators of communications services to ensure they are technically able to hand over decrypted data in “near real time” to the government.

The Australian government over the weekend revealed its intention to pursue a similar path,


attorney-General George Brandis insisted the government had no intention of forcing technology companies to introduce backdoors in their products.


“A technical capability notice … subject to tests of reasonableness and proportionality, imposes upon them a greater obligation to work with authorities where a notice is given to them to assist in breaking a communication,” Brandis told Sky News.

“So that’s not backdooring.”

But it is unclear how the government expects technology companies to break encryption.


Microsoft includes Windows XP in its June Patch Tuesday releases


Microsoft has released its June Patch Tuesday updates on-schedule, and with them yet another security fix for Windows XP


a post-EOL security patch in 2014 reset the clock, and the WannaCry ransomware, also known as WCrypt or WannaCrypt, again forced Microsoft’s hand into releasing a Windows XP update, now 16 years past its launch and nine years past its original retirement date.


While the Windows XP patch for the WannaCry malware was positioned as an unusual response to an unusual attack, relying as it did on exploits collected by and subsequently leaked from the US National Security Agency (NSA), Microsoft has once again reset the clock on the OS that just won’t die with yet another post-EOL security patch. ‘In reviewing the updates for this month, some vulnerabilities were identified that pose elevated risk of cyber attacks by government organisations, sometimes referred to as nation-state actors, or other copycat organisations,‘ explained Microsoft’s Adrienne Hall


These security updates are being made available to all customers, including those using older versions of Windows.



In addition to the fixes for a WannaCry-style malware apparently currently exploiting systems in-the-wild, this month’s Patch Tuesday release includes security updates for the company’s Office products, various Windows releases, the Silverlight platform, Adobe Flash Player, Internet Explorer 11, and Microsoft Edge.


This new technology can help predict if you’re going to die

New research has indicated that “future” predicting computers could be coming to hospitals in the near future. Researchers are hoping that the technology could be used to predict serious illnesses and medical conditions such as heart attacks.

For the study, five year–old medical images of 48 patient’s chests were analyzed by artificial intelligence. From these images alone, the system was able to predict (with 69 percent accuracy) whether or not a patient would die within five years. It was also able to predict medical outcomes by analyzing large volumes of data and discovering subtle patterns. This new exam–by–AI has proven to be more effective than a physical exam from a doctor

Currently the system is only trained to predict death within five years, although,

with the right dataset it should be trivial to extend the technique to other time scales.




Bidding for vintage Apple sneakers starts at $15,000



A relic from the 1990s, these Apple Computer sneakers are so rare that they’ve almost reached mythical status in recent years. Photos of the shoes pop up every now and then, but getting a pair in-hand has been next to impossible. That will change later this month, when Heritage Live plans to auction off this nearly pristine set on eBay.

According to the pre-listing, the shoes were produced exclusively for Apple employees and Adidas is curiously listed as the manufacturer. This pair happens to be a size 9 1/2.

Not your typical auction, the shoes will be sold in a live format, with bidding starting at $15,000. The seller estimates a $24,000 – $36,000 close. Bidding begins on June 11 at 2 p.m.



Taylor Swift returns to Spotify on the day Katy Perry’s album comes out


Taylor pulled her songs from Spotify back in 2014, after criticising the effect streaming services were having on the music industry.

She says her return is a “thank you” to fans, in honour of her last album 1989 selling 10 million copies.

Katy Perry started live streaming her new album, Witness, on Thursday night. She also announced new tour dates, some of them in the UK.

Taylor Swift’s music appeared back on Spotify at midnight – exactly the same time Witness was released – after almost three years away from the service.

A Spotify spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Taylor Swift’s entire back catalogue is now available on Spotify for her millions of fans to enjoy”.






Digital currency frenzy crashes Coinbase exchange



Digital currency exchange Coinbase said on Monday it was experiencing an outage due to an increase in traffic and trading volume. One of the world’s largest digital currency companies with operations in 32 countries, Coinbase engineers and support teams have been working to keep up with the volume, the exchange said in a statement.

The outage occurred just as bitcoin had a more than 10 per cent drop in the price to US$2,640 ($3490), on the Bitstamp platform. Customers voiced on Twitter their displeasure at Coinbase for the outage, as it prevented them from taking advantage of the dip in price to buy bitcoins.

Ethereum, which has the second-largest market capitalisation behind bitcoin, hit $569 in Australia on Tuesday.

“Digital coins are very much in vogue now,” said Asher Tan, CEO of CoinJar Bitcoin exchange.




Google targets travel market with Flights service

Google has officially launched the Flights service today in Australia that lists available flights between global destinations.

Users can search for queries such as “flights to Hobart”, or access the service directly via google.com.au/flights, delivering cached but current results at snappy speeds.

Details offered in results include price, airline, duration and stopovers, similar to existing web services such as Skyscanner and KAYAK.

A notification bar offers tips such as cheaper deals on nearby days or alternative airport options.

If you already use either Gmail or Google Photos, the company probably knows about your holidays through reservation confirmation emails or geotagged image locations anyway.

Google Trends data reveals Brits are seriously confused post-election



CONFUSED Brits have taken to Google to ask the questions they’re too embarrassed to voice following a disastrous election result that mystified almost everyone.

Google Trends showed the European single market, abortion, freedom of movement and LGBT rights are among the most Googled UK political terms since the election result last Friday.

Statistics show Brits also want to know “will there be another Brexit referendum?”, “what was the turnout for the Brexit vote” and shockingly: “Who won the Brexit vote?”

Hint: The clue is in the name, guys.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which won 10 seats and is now in talks with the Conservatives to prop up their minority government, was also a subject of much intrigue.

“Who are the DUP?”, “What does DUP stand for?”, “What are DUP policies?”, “What do they want?”, and “Who are DUP MPs?” have been trending online.


Autonomous supermarket on wheels prototype goes on display in China



POPPING down to the store for milk and bread could look very different in the future if this ambitious start-up idea can find success.

The collaboration between Swedish company Wheelys Inc. and a Chinese university believes it has the hi-tech model for the mini supermarket of the future. And the team rolled out a beta prototype of the futuristic store in Shanghai this week.

The small mobile shopfront is an autonomous self contained store built on wheels, has no staff, and features an artificially intelligent hologram to greet you.

It’s called Moby Mart and the company behind it envisions a scenario where customers can locate and interact with the store via a mobile app. When you enter you simply scan the items you want with your phone and when you leave it automatically deducts the payment from the app.

“It is the store that comes to you, instead of you coming to the store,” the company’s website says.

The Moby Mart vision even includes drone delivers to maintain stock levels.