Hacks in Spaaaaace!

Subject: General Tech | October 15, 2015 - 04:31 PM |
Tagged: hack, nasa, skylab

Figuring out and successfully executing a hardware hack is fun in and of itself, not to mention that you end up with a working device at the end but for the pinnacle of this craft you should check out this article at Hack a Day.  NASA has pulled off some very inspired hardware hacks in the most inhospitable place for humans imaginable, with serious repercussions if the kludges don't work.  Skylab was launched unmanned but before the crew was even prepping for launch numerous problems began to plague the space station, including an internal temperature of 77C.  These issues needed a workable solution in place before humans could set foot in the station, preferably ones that could be enacted remotely without any humans on the spot.  That is only one of the examples in the article, check out the other examples of ingenuity under extreme pressure by clicking that link.

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"From the repairs to fix the blinded Hubble Space Telescope to the dodgy cooling system and other fixes on the International Space Station, both manned and unmanned spaceflight can be looked at as a series of hacks and repairs."

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Source: Hack a Day

PINs and Patterns are preferable after this Android 5 issue

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2015 - 04:49 PM |
Tagged: hack, smartphone, Android, security

You can see in the video that The Register linked to that this particular vulnerability is neither quick nor elegant but it is most certainly effective.  By entering an extremely long string of digits into the password field, accomplished with multiple copies and pastes, while the camera app is active you can cause the lock screen application to crash on all but the newest version of Android 5.  Unfortunately the effect of that crash is to drop you onto the phones home screen, thus allowing complete access to the phone.  If you are running a version of Android 5 you should consider switching to a PIN or pattern unlock, at least for the time being.

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"If you've got an Android 5 smartphone with anything but the very latest version of Lollipop on it, it's best to use a PIN or pattern to secure your lock-screen – because there's a trivial bypass for its password protection."

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Source: The Register

Intel is offering a much better deal than "Hack your car; go to jail"

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2015 - 04:58 PM |
Tagged: security, Intel, hack

Intel is bucking the trend of FUD and overreaction when someone reveals a major flaw in a product that is on the market and are instead rewarding those who find ways to hack their automobiles.  As we have seen recently, remotely exploiting onboard software and causing a car to crash is no longer something only possible in the movies and it seems that Intel is far more interested in working towards secure solutions as opposed to the auto manufacturers reliance on lawsuits and security through obscurity.  Intel's Automotive Security Review Board is looking for bright minded individuals who will help bring PC style security to cars and is offering a free car (or cash equivalent) to the member who provides the best contribution.  Check out the links at The Register if you are interested.

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"Intel is getting serious – dead serious, apparently – about car hacking. And nothing says serious like a prize giveaway. If you join Chipzilla's new Automotive Security Review Board and make all the right noises, you can win a free new ride."

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Source: The Register

This Wacom "Cintiq" Really Is Based on an Intuos

Subject: General Tech, Displays | June 8, 2014 - 09:09 PM |
Tagged: wacom, Cintiq, Intuos, hack

A couple of years ago, you might remember my review of the Wacom Cintiq 22HD. It was not a review unit. I was originally saving for the Cintiq 24HD until the 22HD and the 24HD Touch were announced. At that point, I was making decision whether to upgrade to the 24HD with a touchscreen for Windows 8 development, or save some money and get the 22HD. If you have read my many editorials on Windows Store certification requirements, you might guess that, at least I believe, I made the right decision.

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Image Credit: Hack a Day

This purchase was actually the second graphics tablet that I owned. Years earlier, I purchased an Adesso CyberTablet 12000 but had problems with drawing in one location and seeing the results in another. I, then, transitioned to scanning pencil-and-paper and inking/filling them with a mouse. It was at that point that I took a gamble on a Wacom Cintiq.

Why am I telling this story? Wacom Cintiqs are based on the same technology as their Intuos tablets, even down to pen compatibility, with a display built in. Well, at Hack a Day, one of their clever readers decided to make their own Cintiq out of what appears to be a Wacom Intuos3 A5. Basically, he fit a replacement 9.7-inch, 2048x1536 display, designed for Retina iPads and similar tablets, behind the touch sensor. It apparently worked without much fuss.

You can find Wacom Intuos3 6 x 8-inch pen tablets for about 120-150$ used. You can also find a 9.7-inch 2048x1536 panel and the other necessary hardware for about $70. While it is not an exact replacement for a Wacom Cintiq, it is the best you will do for under $250 (or even under $900).

Source: Hack a Day

Your Friday FUD; the hackable hospital

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2014 - 04:52 PM |
Tagged: hospital, hack, fud

If you thought that antibiotic resistant infections were the only sort of bug you had to worry about when you are hospitalized then this story on Wired is not for you.  Scott Erven is head of information security for Essentia Health which operates a network of 100 facilities in the US and he has released some shocking news about the hackability of hospital equipment.  It would seem that almost every life saving device is hackable, in many cases quite easily hacked by remote.  Implantable defibrillators can be set off by an attacker or worse, prevented from shocking a heart when it should, drug infusion pumps can have the delivered dosage changed,  maximum radiation levels delivered by CT scans can be changed and a host of other rather terrifying vulnerabilities make going to the hospital even more anxiety inducing than it already was.  Your best bet is to try to stay healthy.

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"When Scott Erven was given free rein to roam through all of the medical equipment used at a large chain of Midwest health care facilities, he knew he would find security problems–but he wasn’t prepared for just how bad it would be."

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Source: Wired

Check out these inventive hacks for a Sci-Fi themed contest

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2014 - 04:37 PM |
Tagged: hack, valve, glados, tf2, kick ass

Hack a Day have been accepting entries to their Sci-Fi contest for long enough that they have a few worth showing off before the entry deadline of April 29th, specifically the Valve themed ones.  A table top sized level 1 sentry gun from TF2 is being entered, perhaps not as heavy duty as  the one currently guarding Valve HQ but destined to be able to fire paint balls if all goes to plan.  There is a French team who are modifying some personal assistant software called RORI into a replica of GLaDOS, hopefully a version at least slightly less murderous than the original while another team is going about creating a physical version of the homicidal AI complete with a camera to allow face tracking.  Check these entrants and other in the full Hack a Day post.

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"While most of the entries to our Sci-Fi contest come from movies and TV shows, a select few are based on the Valve universe, including a few builds based on Portal and Team Fortress 2."

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Source: Hack a Day

Learn about infrared communications and maybe have a bit of fun too

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2013 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: reverse engineering, IR sensor, hack, DIY, arduino

You can buy the USB Infrared Toy v2 from Dangerous Prototypes and get right to turning cheaply made IR devices off and on but you would miss out on a chance to build one yourself.  If you follow the links from Slashdot you will get a quick tutorial on how to determine the oscillation frequency of a broadcaster by looking at the components of the circuit and how to use an Arduino UNO to create your own.  If you are already familiar with this type of project consider teaching someone who needs their fear of electronic devices reduced through understanding how these magic boxes work.

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"Cheap home alarms, door opening systems and wireless mains switches can be bypassed with low-cost and home-made devices that can replicate their infrared signals. Fixed-code radio frequency systems could be attacked using a $20 'toy', or using basic DIY componentry."

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Source: Slashdot

Block Second Generation GSM texts and calls

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 26, 2013 - 05:05 PM |
Tagged: sweet justice, GSM, hack

[H]ard|OCP has stumbled upon some research even more wonderful than TV-B-Gone, a way to mod your GSM phone to be able to block the reception of phone calls and texts on cellphones using the same provider as you do.  No longer will idiots who are unable to watch a movie in the theater without constantly calling their friends to let them know what they think of it impinge upon your experience.  The hack essentially makes your phone respond to every query from the phone provider as being the target device for the call or text and thanks to a tweak to the software on the phones baseband processor the hacked phone responds to that query before the legitimate phone has a chance.  This will not work on 3G or 4G phones as it is only effective against GSM but the researchers who developed the tweak estimate that 11 modified phones would be enough to completely take down the ability of Germany's third largest provider to provide service in a single cell.

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"By making simple modifications to common Motorola phones, researchers in Berlin have shown they can block calls and text messages intended for nearby people connected to the same cellular network. The method works on the second-generation (2G) GSM networks that are the most common type of cell network worldwide. In the U.S., both AT&T and T-Mobile carry calls and text messages using GSM network."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Bring dead data on an SD card back to life with the power of Arduino

Subject: General Tech | August 19, 2013 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: arduino, hack, sd card

It would seem that there is more than one way to access an SD Card, and the usual interface used by your devices called SDIO can be the failure point preventing you from accessing your data.  The alternative method is called SPI mode which is significantly slower but also less complex which means that when SDIO fails you may still be able to access and copy your data using SPI mode.  Over at Hack a Day you can read about how to use a Playduino One Arduino clone and a SD card shield along with some custom Python scripts to recover those vacation snaps. 

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"A few days ago, one of [Severin]‘s SD cards died on him, Instead of trashing the card, he decided to investigate what was actually wrong with the card and ended up recovering most of the data using an Arduino and an immense amount of cleverness."

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Source: Hack a Day

Gain root to your Chromecast dongle

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2013 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: streaming, media, google. chrome, chromecast, hack

The Chromecast streaming dongle you heard about just a few days ago has now been opened up thanks to a quickly discovered exploit.  As a bonus, the page on Hack a Day also shows off more of the internals of the device including 17 unused connection just begging for hacks to be created. The exploit allows you to dial in to a root shell which will exist on port 23 although as of now there is little you can do but examine the modified Google TV OS but this should change as creative people have a chance to play with the new device.

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"Well that didn’t take long. The team over at GTVHacker have worked their magic on Chromecast. The HDMI dongle announced by Google last week was so popular they had to cancel their 3-free-months of Netflix perk. We think the thing is worth $35 without it, especially if we end up seeing some awesome hacks from the community."

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Source: Hack a Day