The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'hacking'
Could this be the viral marketing campaign for a new William Gibson/Haruki Murakami collaboration?
Police in Japan who have for months been taunted by an anonymous hacker have found a memory card attached to an animal's collar after solving a set of emailed riddles, according to reports. The discovery was made after messages were sent to newspapers and broadcasters, with the sender claiming details of a computer virus were strapped to a cat living on an island near Tokyo.
The Times goes to DEFCON, interviews some hax0rs:
He tells me about one of his cases involving Symbolic Motors in La Jolla, California. Symbolic, which supplies Ferraris, Lotuses, Aston Martins and Bentleys to the stars, is arguably the most lucrative dealership in the States. It wanted to find out just how good its multi-million dollar security system was, so Pyr0 and his friends Ryan Jones and Chris Nickerson, who call themselves ethical hackers, went to work.
“First we did a bit of dumpster-diving, looking in their trash, to find out who their computer company was,” says the spiky-haired Pyr0. “Then I paid a visit, posing as one of their technicians and got access to the company's servers. I secretly installed a wireless network behind a desk while I was there, which allowed Ryan, who was in a car outside, to begin hacking into their computer system remotely.” While Jones was downloading Symbolic's files - details of sales, prices, film-star customers and so on - Pyr0 was wandering around the building taking pictures. There was no alarm security above the ground-floor showroom and the roof skylights were not alarmed. In the showroom, he worked out the blind spots in an array of motion sensors.
That night, they broke in through the unalarmed skylights, exploited the motion sensors' blind spots, crawled to the alarm keypad and switched off the system. They opened the showroom doors, drove out a Lotus and returned it, parking it the wrong way round.
Michael Chorost, born partially deaf, completely lost his hearing in his mid-30s, depriving him of the pleasure of listening to his favourite piece of music (Ravel's Boléro; one of the few pieces which his condition allowed him to appreciate). He was fitted with a "bionic ear", an implant that processes sound and converts it into neural impulses, at a resolution just good enough to understand speech, though nowhere near enough to appreciate music. So he studied up on neurology, music and psychoacoustics, liaised with experts around the world and hacked the implant's firmware to let him enjoy music again:
When the device was turned on a month after surgery, the first sentence I heard sounded like "Zzzzzz szz szvizzz ur brfzzzzzz?" My brain gradually learned how to interpret the alien signal. Before long, "Zzzzzz szz szvizzz ur brfzzzzzz?" became "What did you have for breakfast?" After months of practice, I could use the telephone again, even converse in loud bars and cafeterias. In many ways, my hearing was better than it had ever been. Except when I listened to music.
About a year after I received the implant, I asked one implant engineer how much of the device's hardware capacity was being used. "Five percent, maybe." He shrugged. "Ten, tops." I was determined to use that other 90 percent. I set out on a crusade to explore the edges of auditory science. For two years tugging on the sleeves of scientists and engineers around the country, offering myself as a guinea pig for their experiments. I wanted to hear Boléro again.
I suggested rebooting and sampling Boléro through a microphone. But the postdoc told me he couldn't do that in time for my plane. A later flight wasn't an option; I had to be back in the Bay Area. I was crushed. I walked out of the building with my shoulders slumped. Scientifically, the visit was a great success. But for me, it was a failure. On the flight home, I plugged myself into my laptop and listened sadly to Boléro with Hi-Res. It was like eating cardboard.
Hold on. Don't jump to conclusions. I backtrack to 5:59 and switch to Hi-Res. That heart-stopping leap has become an asthmatic whine. I backtrack again and switch to the new software. And there it is again, that exultant ascent. I can hear Boléro's force, its intensity and passion. My chin starts to tremble. I open my eyes, blinking back tears. "Congratulations," I say to Emadi. "You have done it." And I reach across the desk with absurd formality and shake his hand.But being able to hear Boléro again wasn't the end of it; with his new hearing, Chorost started getting into the music that he hadn't been able to hear before, and he's confident that it will improve further:
In his studio, Rettig plays me Ravel's String Quartet in F Major and Philip Glass' String Quartet no. 5. I listen carefully, switching between the old software and the new. Both compositions sound enormously better on 121 channels. But when Rettig plays music with vocals, I discover that having 121 channels hasn't solved all my problems. While the crescendos in Dulce Pontes' Cançào do Mar sound louder and clearer, I hear only white noise when her voice comes in. Rettig figures that relatively simple instrumentals are my best bet - pieces where the instruments don't overlap too much - and that flutes and clarinets work well for me. Cavalcades of brass tend to overwhelm me and confuse my ear.
And some music just leaves me cold: I can't even get through Kraftwerk's Tour de France. I wave impatiently to Rettig to move on. (Later, a friend tells me it's not the software - Kraftwerk is just dull. It makes me think that for the first time in my life I might be developing a taste in music.)Amazing stuff.
(via bOING bOING)
A look inside the script kiddie culture, where gangs of teenagers hijack networks of machines, and launch denial-of-service attacks on each other's territory, at least partly in competition for the attention of the handful of girls in the scene, in between selling their use to whoever is willing to pay. Meanwhile, the script kiddies have access to security holes and exploits from secret "0day" mailing lists, months before security experts find and patch them; and don't expect the FBI or its local equivalents to do anything about them; the agencies reportedly don't have the resources to deal with such matters. (via Slashdot)
- Parrot knows 950 words, has grammar, can coin phrases and shows evidence of a sense of humour. Which calls into question the accepted belief that parrots act as sound-recording devices. Mind you, the article also claims that the parrot has telepathic abilities, which makes it sound rather dubious. Perhaps the BBC News has been acquired by Pravda?
- FBI computer expert talks about (in)security:
American companies have tried to respond to the massive fraud being perpetrated online. One common preventive, adopted by most companies that sell products online, has been to refuse shipments outside of North America, or allow international shipping, except for Eastern Europe. Criminals have figured out a way around this, however. They hire folks to act as middlemen for them. Basically, these people get paid to sit at home, sign for packages from Dell, Amazon, and other companies, and then turn around and reship the packages to Russia, Belorussia, and Ukraine. You know those signs you see on telephone poles that read "Make money! Work at home!"? A lot of that "work" is actually laundering products for the Russian mob. Of course, anyone caught acting as a middleman denies knowledge of their employer: "I had no idea why I was shipping 25 Dell computers a day to Minsk! I just assumed they liked computers!"
Dave also had a great quotation for us: "If you're a bad guy and you want to frustrate law enforcement, use a Mac." Basically, police and government agencies know what to do with seized Windows machines. They can recover whatever information they want, with tools that they've used countless times. The same holds true, but to a lesser degree, for Unix-based machines. But Macs evidently stymie most law enforcement personnel. They just don't know how to recover data on them. So what do they do? By and large, law enforcement personnel in American end up sending impounded Macs needing data recovery to the acknowledged North American Mac experts: the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Evidently the Mounties have built up a knowledge and technique for Mac forensics that is second to none.
- The amazing story of three blind brothers who became Israel's most formidable phone phreaks, partly by dint of their acute senses of hearing:
Two hours into an afternoon-long interview with the Hebrew-speaking Badirs, my translator's lips lock. He shrugs and tells me that the Badirs have shifted into a secret code. Ramy later explains that as kids he and Muzher developed their own language - reordering letters in mathematically complex ways - after they discovered that other boys were snooping on their conversations.
Ramy, Muzher, and Shadde were arrested on a variety of charges relating to computer fraud in connection with their hacks of the radio station and Bency Levy's phone sex operation. Police took them from their home in wrist and leg cuffs, but even in custody, they could not help but show off by conversing in their secret language and announcing telephone numbers that were being keyed in by law enforcers.
- Warning: blogging can endanger your career, relationships or general wellbeing: (via FmH)
"The blogging community is terribly incestuous," Lapatine admits. "If the relationship doesn't go well, all your mutual friends will read about it. This," he adds, "is how a friend of mine learned that he had halitosis and was a bad dancer."
Some bloggers run into difficulties from seemingly mundane reports about their daily thoughts and activities. "As an Asian girl, I get weird Asian-fetish e-mails from people who read [my] site," says Lia Bulaong, the twentysomething Manhattan author of Cheesedip (she includes tame photographs of herself in everyday clothes). "Also, stalkers I had in college that I didn't know about have come out of the woodwork."
- The prognosis for the upcoming Hitchhiker's Guide film looks somewhat dubious, what with Karey "Chicken Run" Kirkpatrick rewriting the script (undoubtedly crushing out anything that doesn't fit the standard Hollywood rules of characterisation and plot) and a rapper being cast as Ford Prefect. The thing about Trillian having been rewritten as a "brilliant scientist" also seems dubious. But you knew that already.
- A proposed Trainspotting-themed tour of Edinburgh has run into problems because the city has been cleaned up too much, with many of the locations in the novel and film no longer existing in any recognisable form (via Lev)
Hacker/cracker tirelessly crusades to expose security holes, ends up persecuted by the FBI; the usual story, right? Except that there's a twist. According to rotten.com editor and bOING bOING guestblogger "Macki", fugitive hax0r Adrian Lamo brought it on himself to get glory:
The fact that there's now a warrant out for his arrest won't come as a surprise to anyone whose has been following news of his exploits. He has been roaming the country hacking into corporations (not necessarily a bad thing) trying to generate the maximum publicity. He's been doing things that would be very easy for him to get away with and that no one would really care about all that much. Instead of getting away with it, Adrian made a decision a long time ago to become a hacker martyr. A close friend of his already registered FreeAdrian.com over a year ago. So with each hack he rubbed the companies' noses in it and gave juicy leads on his latest exploits to friendly reporters. He dresses it up with rhetoric relating to the responsibility of people to secure their networks and about doing a public service.
Or so one guy (who admits to having a grudge against Lamo) says.
I've just heard that the ABC is showing In the Realm of the Hackers, a local documentary about two hackers/crackers from late-1980s Melbourne, their exploits and the law's pursuit of them, tomorrow (Thursday) night at 10PM. I saw this in the cinema earlier this year, and can recommend it.
A good interview with Hacktivismo founder Oxblood Ruffin, where he talks about pro-democracy technologies, and Western technology companies' complicity in totalitarian control regimes and also claims that the Klez virus is likely to have been the work of the Chinese Public Security Bureau. (via bOING bOING)