Friday, September 27, 2013

How Your Computer Gets Hacked in Under a Minute

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) – With just a few clicks, hackers can access all of your online information and stay in your system for years. Bloomberg’s Megan Huges talks to the experts to show you how it’s done. (Source: Bloomberg)

Hackers-for-hire uncovered using hit-and-run 'Icefog' APT on Mac OS X and Windows systems - IT News from

Kaspersky Lab confirmed uncovering the Icefog campaign in its The Icefog APT: A Tale of Cloak and Three Daggers threat report. The researchers said the campaign has been active since at least 2011 and has hit a number of high profile targets.
"Icefog is an Advanced Persistent Threat that has been active since at least 2011, targeting mostly Japan and South Korea. Known targets include government institutions, military contractors, maritime and shipbuilding groups, telecom operators, industrial and high-tech companies and mass media," read the report.
"There are versions for both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. In its latest incarnation, Icefog doesn't automatically exfiltrate data, instead it is operated by the attackers to perform actions directly on the victim's live systems."

Continue Reading: Hackers-for-hire uncovered using hit-and-run 'Icefog' APT on Mac OS X and Windows systems - IT News from

Monday, September 23, 2013

Utilities Try to Learn From Smart Meters

Vast customer data is starting to transform the ways companies operate

"Utilities have installed more than 60 million smart meters in North America in the past decade.

Now they have to figure out what to do with all the information the devices are generating.

It's a mind-boggling amount of data. Consider that traditional meters did nothing more than track consumption. They were read 12 times a year by meter readers. In contrast, smart meters bombard utilities with data, often passing along meter readings every 15 minutes, or 35,000 times a year. They also alert utilities to electricity theft and dozens of other useful things.

And that's just part of the story. In addition to the smart meters, information is streaming in from the grid itself, where millions of sensors and smart controllers are giving utilities deeper, more timely information on equipment performance and power flows.

"The flow of data is increasing fast," says Matt Wakefield, director of information technologies for the industry-funded Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif. "The challenge [for the industry] is in understanding the opportunities. There's a gap in analytics."

Blame It on the Pump

As utilities get their arms around the data, the implications for consumers could be significant."

Continue Reading

Ms. Smith is a staff reporter in The Wall Street Journal's San Francisco bureau. She can be reached at
A version of this article appeared September 23, 2013, on page R3 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Data, Data and More Data.

Utilities Want Solar Customers to Pay More

Their argument: The few (homes with solar power) are being subsidized by the many (everyone else).

"People with solar panels on their roofs often get a pretty good price break on their energy bills.
Too good, some utilities say.

Now, utilities in several states—including the country's sunniest, California and Arizona—are trying to do something about it.

Here's the issue: For most homes, solar panels don't generate all the power the residents use. At night and on cloudy days, and sometimes even on sunny days, these homes draw power from the grid that serves all a utility's customers. But at other times, the panels generate more power than the home is using, and that surplus power flows into the grid.
Under state rules known as net metering, customers are credited on their bills for any power that flows from their homes to the grid, usually at the same rate they pay when they draw power from the grid. 

So, customers with solar panels not only are buying less electricity from their utilities, but also are able to offset much of the cost of what they do buy.

The utilities say solar customers are paying so little that they don't cover their share of the cost of maintaining the grid, which they still rely on. That drives up costs for nonsolar customers, utilities say, and they warn that the burden will grow as the number of solar customers continues to swell.
Solar companies and their customers deny that people with solar panels aren't paying their share of utility costs, and argue that rooftop solar systems benefit utility grids by relieving demand and providing extra power. Cutting incentives would reduce the appeal of solar energy, they say, depriving the grid of some of that additional power, blunting the environmental benefits of solar power and hurting the young, fast-growing industry."

Continue Reading

 Ms. Sweet is a Wall Street Journal staff reporter in San Francisco. She can be reached at

A version of this article appeared September 23, 2013, on page R3 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Utilities Seek to Raise Bills for Solar Customers.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Proof That The Fingerprint Sensor On The iPhone 5S Isn't Just A Gimmick

By Steve Kovach and William Wei

Read more:

Secure Our Smartphones Coalition Statement On Release Of Apple's iOS 7 

Gascón & Schneiderman: After Months Of Pressure, Apple Responds With The World's First Attempt To Implement A Technological Solution To The Global Smartphone Theft Epidemic

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released this joint statement following today's deployment of Apple's newest operating system, iOS 7:

"After months of pressure from a global coalition of elected officials and law enforcement agencies, we are pleased that Apple is set to release a new mobile operating system that includes a theft deterrent feature called Activation Lock. This is an important first step towards ending the global epidemic of smartphone theft.

“In the months ahead, it is our hope that Activation Lock will prove to be an effective deterrent to theft, and that the widespread use of this new system will end the victimization of iPhone users, as thieves learn that the devices have no value on the secondary market. We are particularly pleased that – because Activation Lock is a feature associated with Apple's new operating system as opposed to a new device – it will be available to consumers with older phone models who download the free upgrade.

“While it is too early to tell if Activation Lock will be a comprehensive solution to the epidemic of ‘Apple Picking’ crimes that have victimized iPhone and iPad owners around the world, we believe it is a step forward and strongly urge iPhone users to download iOS 7, and most importantly, ensure they utilize both an Apple ID and Find My iPhone. We also encourage Apple to make Activation Lock a fully opt-out solution in order to guarantee widespread adoption, and strongly urge the other leading manufacturers of smartphones to quickly implement effective theft deterrents that protect their customers from violent crime.”

Gascón and Schneiderman also urge consumers to enable basic security features such as a password or the newly available fingerprint scanning technology on the iPhone 5S. While password and fingerprint scanning security features can help protect data on a device, they do not deter thieves from stealing smartphones. Theft deterrence for iPhone users will occur only if adoption of iOS 7, and the utilization of an Apple ID and Find My iPhone is widespread. Additionally, the success of Activation Lock is largely dependent on the failure of hackers' rumored exploits.

Finally, they noted that simply downloading iOS 7 and enabling Activation Lock through the use of an Apple ID and Find My iPhone does not mean consumers are safe from potential theft. Even if Activation Lock proves effective, thieves will not react overnight. Accordingly, it is vital that consumers beare aware of their surroundings at all times, especially when using their smartphones in public places.

The Secure Our Smartphones (SOS) Initiative coalition is a groundbreaking coalition of state Attorneys General, major city Mayors, District Attorneys, major city Police Chiefs, state and city Comptrollers, public safety activists and consumer advocates from around the world. This initiative is working to encourage the industry to implement meaningful solutions that will end the national epidemic of violent thefts of mobile communications devices such as smartphones and tablets.
For more information on efforts by District Attorney Gascón and Attorney General Schneiderman to combat “Apple Picking,” visit the San Francisco District Attorney’s website and the New York State Attorney General’s website.

iCloud: Find My iPhone Activation Lock in iOS 7

Overview and frequently asked questions

With iOS 7, Find My iPhone includes a new feature called Activation Lock, which makes it more difficult for anyone else to use or sell your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch if you ever lose it. It starts working the moment you turn on Find My iPhone in iOS 7. With Activation Lock, your Apple ID and password will be required before anyone can:
  • Turn off Find My iPhone on your device
  • Erase your device
  • Reactivate and use your device
This can help you keep your device secure, even if it is in the wrong hands, and can improve your chances of recovering it. Even if you erase your device remotely, Activation Lock can continue to deter anyone from reactivating your device without your permission. All you need to do is keep Find My iPhone turned on, and remember your Apple ID and password.
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about Find My iPhone Activation Lock.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

There's Basically No Way To Get A Gold iPhone On Friday Unless You Stand In Line

Apple is releasing its highly-anticipated iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C this Friday.
But the big question on a lot of people's mind is probably, "How can I get it as fast and as painless as possible?"

Read more:

TIM COOK ON APPLE VS. ANDROID: 'We're Not In The Junk Business'

By just about every statistic Apple's mobile software, iOS is beating Google's software, Android.
In profit share, Apple leads all other Android manufacturers combined. In web traffic, iOS has 55% of the market, according to NetMarketShare
The iPhone has been the top rated smartphone in consumer satisfaction in nine consecutive studies by JD Power and Associates
In less concrete statistics, iOS is generally still the first choice for developers. Reader interest at our site, and at others, is off the charts for iOS, but just so-so for Android. 
Apple's also the company that rivals compare themselves against. Microsoft, Samsung, and even Motorola all make fun of the iPhone in their ads. They wouldn't do that if Apple wasn't the real leader. 

Read more:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Mac Trojan Discovered Related to Syria

"A new Mac Trojan has been discovered that creates a backdoor on an affected user’s machine. It was found on VirusTotal, sent by a user in Belarus. At the time of writing, the Command and Control (C&C) server is down and no longer sending commands to affected users. This appears to be a targeted attack, though the method of delivery is not yet known. So, while this has been affecting users in the wild, the overall threat level appears to be low.
The Trojan is an application that is disguised as a picture – the .app file-extension is not visible by default."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Reports of NSA Spying on Your Smartphone Are Overblown

"Happy Monday! Once again, it’s time to shed light on some recent questionable reporting about the NSA scandal.
This weekend, there was some murmuring about an article in Der Spiegel about how the NSA can grab all sorts of things from your smartphone. And while they certainly could potentially grab things from smartphones, it’s not nearly as ubiquitous and horrible as the article makes it sound. Some of that could simply be attributed to a lack of technical understanding by the reporter, but it’s being picked up by more technical sites and interpreted as if it’s de facto truth."