12/4/2007

New airport metal detector is a shoe-in

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

When it comes to gentility and airline security, we may have something to learn from Nairobi International, where they have the decency, and the equipment, to allow you to keep your shoes on.

Nairobi joins Madrid, Prague, and Budapest in deploying the MagShoe, a “high-speed, shoes-on, portable footwear weapons detection system,” at their respective airports. U.K. and U.S. airports may be next.

The MagShoe is a metal detector designed to test shoes and ankles in the ongoing fight against foot-borne threats. A passenger simply steps on what looks like a twin mud scraper/shoe buffer, and within an average of 1.2 seconds an audio-visual signal either alerts the operator to concealed metal or gives the all-clear.

Development of the device was initiated by the technical branch of the Israeli Security Agency in response to 9/11 and the Richard Reid “shoe bomber” incident, according to the manufacturer, IDO Security. In both cases the weapons were smuggled in shoes, and in both cases the terrorists went through an Arch Metal Detector (Magnetometer Gates) without being detected.

Facebook Admits Ad Service Tracks Logged-Off Users

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Facebook has confirmed findings of a CA security researcher that the social-networking site’s Beacon ad service is more intrusive and stealthy than previously acknowledged, an admission that contradicts statements made previously by Facebook executives and representatives.

Facebook’s controversial Beacon ad system tracks users’ off-Facebook activities even if those users are logged off from the social-networking site and have previously declined having their activities on specific external sites broadcast to their Facebook friends, a company spokesman said via e-mail over the weekend.

Although according to the spokesman Facebook does nothing with the data transmitted back to its servers in these cases and deletes it, the admission will probably fan the flames of the controversy engulfing Beacon, which has been criticized by privacy advocates.

The Facebook spokesman did not initially reply to a request for further explanation on how the Beacon action gets triggered if a user is logged off from Facebook, when the social-networking site’s ability to track its users’ activities should be inactive.

It’s also unclear whether Facebook plans to modify Beacon so it doesn’t track and report on the off-Facebook activities of logged-off users.

Adobe upgrades, cuts price on video streaming software

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Adobe Systems is announcing Tuesday its Adobe Flash Media Server 3 products, enabling streaming of high-definition video at a lower price point.

Instead of pricing its software at a range of from $4,500 to $45,000 as it was previously, the price now is at $4,500 and $995 for the two different versions of the product.

Due in January, the product line features Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server 3 for live and on-demand video streaming and Adobe Flash Media Interactive Server 3, for customized video streaming and multi-way social media applications. Flash Media Streaming Server 3 is geared to small- to medium-scale usage, while Interactive Server is a high-performance server.

Adobe also is announcing on Tuesday shipment of its Adobe Flash Player 9, codenamed “Moviestar,” which supports high-definition video content via the H.264 specification.

YouTube restores account of Egypt anti-torture blogger

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The video-sharing Web site YouTube has restored the account of a prominent Egyptian anti-torture activist, and said on Monday he may repost graphic images of purported rights abuses if he puts them in proper context.

Wael Abbas said last week that YouTube had suspended his account and that around 100 images he had posted, including clips of police brutality, purported voting irregularities and anti-government demonstrations were no longer accessible.

YouTube, owned by search engine giant Google Inc, said in a statement that it was committed to preserving its site as an “important platform for expression of all kinds” while ensuring that it remains a safe environment for users.

Apple QuickTime exploit in the wild

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Symantec has found active exploit code in the wild for an unpatched Apple QuickTime vulnerability.

Researcher Joji Hamada wrote in Symantec’s Security Response Weblog on Saturday that the company had seen an active exploit for the vulnerability in Apple’s media-streaming program that could lead to users downloading Trojan software.

Hamada said the exploit code was found on a compromised porn site that redirects users to a site hosting malicious software called “Downloader.” Downloader is a Trojan that causes compromised machines to download other malicious software from the Internet. Symantec rates Downloader as “very low” risk.

No patch is currently available for the vulnerability, which affects version 7.x, and which lies in a boundary error when QuickTime processes Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) replies.

Britney Spears tops list of Yahoo! searches for 2007

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Love her or hate her, Britney Spears fascinated people in 2007 with the disgraced pop princess heading a list of the top 10 searches on Yahoo!.

Spears, a former Disney Mouseketeer who turned 26 on Sunday, continued to draw attention as she shaved her head, attacked a photographer’s car with an umbrella, went to rehab, fought with ex-husband Kevin Federline over the custody of their two sons, and released her first album in four years.

“People do not know what to expect from her any more and the searches would spike every time she was back in the news,” Vera Chan, senior editor at Yahoo!, told Reuters.

“From when she shaved her head and rumors emerged from the rehab mill that she was calling herself the anti-Christ and shaved 666 on her scalp, there was constant tracking of this almost modern-day Greek tragedy happening in front of us.”

Spears has topped the annual Yahoo! list for six of the past seven years, only losing out once — in 2004 — to her friend and fellow party girl Paris Hilton. But Chan said overall the Britney Spears searches were up from a year ago.

Gentler Windows Genuine Advantage to Roll Out

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft Corp. is pulling back from a system that disables programs on users’ computers if it suspects the software is pirated, opting instead for a gentler approach based on nagging alerts.

Microsoft said late Monday it will roll out the new version of Windows Genuine Advantage with the first “service pack” for Windows Vista, due in the first quarter of 2008.

When computer users activate a copy of Windows Vista or try to download certain software from Microsoft’s Web site, the Windows Genuine Advantage system scans their PCs for signs of pirated software. Today, if the tool finds an unauthorized copy of Vista, the glassy Vista user experience disappears and other features are suspended.

In the new version, PC users found to have a pirated copy of Vista will continue to be able to use their computers, but with unmistakable signs their operating system is a fake. The desktop wallpaper will turn black, and a white notice will appear alerting users to the problem. Each time they log in, they will be prompted to buy legitimate software, and every hour, a reminder bubble will appear on the screen.

Users with a high tolerance for irritation can put off switching to genuine software indefinitely, but those who relent and buy a real copy of Windows can do so at reduced prices - $119 for Windows Vista Home Premium, half the regular retail price.

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