10/15/2009

‘Magnetic electricity’ discovered

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Researchers have discovered a magnetic equivalent to electricity: single magnetic charges that can behave and interact like electrical ones.

The work is the first to make use of the magnetic monopoles that exist in special crystals known as spin ice.

Writing in Nature journal, a team showed that monopoles gather to form a “magnetic current” like electricity.

The phenomenon, dubbed “magnetricity”, could be used in magnetic storage or in computing.

Magnetic monopoles were first predicted to exist over a century ago, as a perfect analogue to electric charges.

Although there are protons and electrons with net positive and negative electric charges, there were no particles in existence which carry magnetic charges. Rather, every magnet has a “north” and “south” pole.

Apple breaks jailbreakers’ hearts with iPhone 3GS patch

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple has reportedly tweaked the way its iPhone is coded in an effort to freeze out users who jailbreak the company’s handsets.

It’s understood that when Apple ships new iPhone 3GS phones, they’ll come loaded with a “bootrom” that defends against the 24kpwn exploit used by the Dev-Team and individuals to jailbreak artificial restrictions built into the popular smartphone.

Indeed, the Dev-Team warned iPhone users last week to hang fire on installing the latest iPhone OS.

More recently, the group’s hacker MuscleNerd has confirmed that for the time being a normal jailbreak of the phone would be impossible, following the loss of the 24kpwn exploit.

Users jailbreak their handsets in order to install unsigned Apple Apps on their iPhone. The Cupertino-based company has watched world dog enjoy the exploit for the best part of this year.

But the next batch of iPhone 3GS units to arrive in-store are expected to come with code that prevents the jailbreak.

All of which will probably lead to another exploit being discovered, although with each Apple patch, the jailbreaks have turned from a gush to a trickle.

Trojan plunders $480k from online bank account

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A Pennsylvania organization that helps develop affordable housing learned a painful lesson about the hazards of online banking using the Windows operating system when a notorious trojan siphoned almost $480,000 from its account.

News reports say $479,247 vanished from a bank account belonging to the Cumberland County Redevelopment Authority after it was hit by Clampi. The trojan gets installed by tricking users into clicking on a file attached to email and then lies in wait for the victim to log in to online financial websites. The authority has so far been able to recover $109,467 of the stolen loot.

Adobe fixes 28 holes in Reader and Acrobat

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Adobe on Tuesday released a security bulletin that includes fixes for 28 vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader and Acrobat, including a critical hole that has reportedly been exploited in the wild in limited attacks.

Affected software includes version 9.1.3 of Reader and Acrobat; Acrobat 8.1.6 for Windows, Macintosh, and Unix; and version 7.1.3 of Reader and Acrobat for Windows and Macintosh. The vulnerabilities could cause the applications to crash and could allow an attacker to take control of a user’s computer.

Adobe recommends that people update to Adobe Reader 9.2 and Acrobat 9.2, or Acrobat 8.1.7 or Acrobat 7.1.4. For Adobe Reader users who cannot update to Adobe Reader 9.2, Adobe has provided the Adobe Reader 8.1.7 and Adobe Reader 7.1.4 updates.

New Wi-Fi spec challenges Bluetooth

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A new Wi-Fi specification will let wireless devices discover and connect to one another without a router.

The spec, called Wi-Fi Direct, was announced Wednesday by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the industry group that promotes the technology. By making it much easier for devices to connect directly to each other using Wi-Fi, the new spec could pose a challenge to wireless technologies such Bluetooth.

The way Wi-Fi Direct works is that it allows Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as phones, cameras, printers, computers, keyboards, and headphones to connect to other Wi-Fi devices individually or to multiple devices at once. The spec will support standard Wi-Fi data rates, and devices will be able to connect to one another within about 100 meters of each other. This would allow just about any device that has Wi-Fi built into it to use wireless broadband instead of Bluetooth. It could even eliminate the need for Wi-Fi routers in some places.

The new spec will turn gadgets into mini Wi-Fi access points, which means that it could reduce the need for home Wi-Fi routers. It could also hurt Bluetooth, which is widely used to provide similar peer-to-peer connections between devices. For example, Bluetooth technology connects headsets to music players and cell phones. And it’s used to provide other high-speed wireless connections over short distances between other devices. The new Wi-Fi Direct specification would offer the same function.

Ad hoc wireless connections are already supported via the current Wi-Fi standard. But the Wi-Fi Direct specification would make it easier for devices to discover each other and connect. The Wi-Fi Alliance plans to publish the new peer-to-peer Wi-Fi specification soon and says it will begin certifying devices for Wi-Fi Direct in 2010.

Samsung delivers Blockbuster, Amazon on-demand video

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Samsung announced on Wednesday that on-demand video services from Blockbuster and Amazon are coming to some of its home entertainment products.

Blockbuster OnDemand, which allows people to rent or purchase video content on a one-off basis, is now available on some of Samsung’s high-definition TVs, Blu-ray players, and home theater systems.

According to Samsung, the service will be offered on its Series 650 and above LCD and plasma HDTVs, as well as its Series 7000 and above LED HDTVs. Blockbuster OnDemand will be available to owners of the Samsung BD-P1600, BD-P3600, and BD-P4600 Blu-ray players, as well as the company’s HT-BD1250, HT-BD3252, HT-BD7200, and HT-BD8200 Blu-ray home theater systems. The company said that the service is available now through a firmware upgrade.

As part of the rollout, Blockbuster OnDemand content can be streamed across multiple Blockbuster-enabled devices in the home. According to the company, users who order a particular movie can start watching it on one Samsung product in their home and continue watching it on another supported Samsung device.

Microsoft releases biggest patch on record

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft Corp issued its biggest software patch on record on Tuesday to fix a range of security issues in its programs, including the yet to be released Windows 7 operating system.

In a monthly update sent to users of its software, Microsoft released 13 security bulletins, or patches, to address 34 vulnerabilities it identified across its Windows, Internet Explorer, Silverlight, Office and other products.

It said six of the patches were high priority and should be deployed immediately. The patches — which update software to write over glitches — are designed to protect users from hackers or malicious software downloaded from the Internet.

Several of the patches affect Windows 7, the software maker’s new operating system, which will be officially unveiled next week, but has been widely used in test versions.

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