The Regin stealth malware is one of the most sophisticated pieces of attack code written, and was likely created by a government for corporate espionage, according to the Symantec security firm. Regin was used for the past six years and has the ability to take screenshots, recover deleted files, and steal usernames and passwords from infected machines.
It is believed that machines from Ireland, Russia and Saudi Arabia have been most infected, with an effort to attack end users, companies, and government organizations. The Regin creators were diligent to cover their tracks, and it could have taken months to develop the software.
"We believe Regin is used primarily for espionage," said Liam O'Murchu, Symantec security researcher. "We see both companies and individuals targeted. The ultimate goal is to listen in on phone calls or something like that. [Regin's operators] target individuals and spread the attack to find whatever it is they're looking for. All of these things together make us think that a government wrote it."
Dell is now shipping its Alienware Alpha all-in-one console PC gaming unit, promoted as a Steam machine to consumers in time for Christmas. The entry-level Alpha machine has an Intel Core i3-4130T dual-core CPU, 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M, 4GB DDR3 RAM and 500GB HDD, with all models created so they can be easily upgraded.
The Alienware Alpha is available now and starts at $549, with $699, $799, and $899 models also available. The units ship with Alpha UI, but can boot directly to Microsoft Windows 8.1 and Steam Big Picture.
"We've been working hard this past year to break the mold and develop a system that finally brings hundreds of Steam games, including some really fun indie titles, to TVs," said Frank Azor, Alienware GM. "The team and I are excited to finally deliver our vision for big screen gaming and give our fans a console that delivers true next-gen performance with the flexibility to choose how, what and where they want to play."
Mobile attacks accounted for around one-third of attack activity on ThreatMetrix networks, and while mobile attacks are still lower than desktop threats, cybercriminals are increasingly interested in expanding their mobile cybercrime strategies.
"As iPhone, Android and tablet usage continues to increase among consumers, mobile will represent an equal opportunity chancel for cybercrime activity," said Alisdair Faulkner, ThreatMetrix CEO, in a statement. "Cybercriminals always go where the money is and as more transactions turn to mobile, they will create new, sophisticated strategies to target this channel."
Google Android controls a higher market and browser share than rivals - and Apple iOS has amounts for almost twice the amount of payments, logins and authentications combined - both mobile operating systems are under threat. ThreatMetrix said 48 percent of mobile attacks were targeted against iOS smartphones and tablets.
Google Android smartphone and tablet owners flying on United Airlines will be able to stream TV shows and movies using the airline's free on-demand video entertainment solution. The streaming entertainment offering was available only for Apple iOS devices, but support for Android seemed inevitable. Check on United.com to see if your upcoming United flight supports the new service.
The service is designed for 200 United aircraft, but will be expanded to United Express regional jets in the near future. The following aircraft are currently supported: Airbus A319, Airbus A320, Boeing 747 and Boeing 777 aircraft, with most flights travelling between mainland US and Hawaii.
"Travelers increasingly want to watch entertainment on their own devices, as shown by the measurable improvement in satisfaction among travelers who fly on aircraft with personal device programming," said Tom O'Toole, United SVP of marketing and loyalty.
Sony doesn't believe its PlayStation Network was hacked, despite a recent report from a hacker group that they "released a log of customer logins" of usernames and passwords for PSN, Windows Live and Origin. It's possible the user logins were repurposed from previous security breaches, so it would appear gamer PSN accounts are still secure.
"We have investigated the claims that our network was breached and have found no evidence that there was any intrusion into our network," Sony said in a statement. "Unfortunately, Internet fraud including phishing and password matching are realities that consumers and online networks face on a regular basis. We take these reports very seriously and will continue to monitor our network closely."
Even though data breaches are something consumers are increasingly more aware of, there also has been an increase in the amount of fake reported attacks.
It was an atrocious year for private companies and consumers when discussing cybersecurity, with 20 major retailers breached in 2014. Between the medical/healthcare, financial, educational, business and government/military verticals, a total of 679 breaches occurred, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, and it has been extremely difficult to try to defend against these increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.
"The markets react to a market opportunity," said David Burg, PwC Global and US advisory cybersecurity head. "One of the problem is it's hard to secure the enterprise absolutely. So one of the reasons there is a flood of venture capital money into the space is because investors see an opportunity for innovation to solve some of these hard problems that exist out there."
However, investors and private companies are finding a lucrative opportunity to create next-generation security software, as cybersecurity spending is increasing. The industry is expected to see a 7.9 percent increase in 2014, up to $71.1 billion, with eight percent year-over-year growth estimated through 2016, the Gartner research group says.
Kohler, a well-known manufacturer of bathroom and kitchen products, has introduced the new Purefresh deodorizing toilet seat that can kill certain bathroom smells that most people want to hide. The battery-operated toilet seat has a $90 price tag and is able to intake air and pass it through an odor-eating carbon filter - and an optional scent pack.
The toilet seats were launched on Nov. 10, just in time to put under the Christmas tree, with carbon filters available for $6.99. The carbon filters and two D batteries required to operate the toilet seat should be able to last up to six months.
Not surprisingly, trying to develop an appealing odor-eating toilet seat isn't anything new, and it has been done before. Brondell launched a similar no-odor toilet seat, but it was pulled from the market after about five years.
The rise in popularity of e-cigarettes in the United States and Western Europe has led to the potential of malware infection from e-cigarettes made in China, according to recent reports. Cybercriminals have become more creative in their attempts to compromise devices, and ensuring devices from Chinese production facilities are pre-loaded with malware has become increasingly popular.
"The Made in China e-cigarette had malware hardcoded into the charger, and when plugged into a computer's USP port the malware phoned home and infected the system," according to a report posted on Reddit.
Trend Micro security consultant Rik Ferguson seems to agree with the assessment: "Production line malware has been around a for a few years, infecting photo frames, MP3 players and more. For consumers it's a case of running up-to-date anti-malware for the production line stuff and only using trusted devices to counter the threat."
The University of California at Berkeley demonstrated the PR2 robot in 2010, a robot designed to help take care of laundry -and the research is advancing nicely. During the demonstration four years ago, it took the robot around 20 minutes per towel, but it continues to speed up as research developments mature.
A large portion of the overlooked and mundane steps that can be easily done by humans, however, has proven to be difficult to assign for PR2. Steps ranging from locating dirty laundry and picking it up to transporting the laundry to the washer, putting in detergent and then placing the clothes into the dryer are difficult.
In Japan, where an aging population needs assistance as the age gap widens, Japanese researchers are developing robots designed to aid in daily chores and activities.
Encryption and security was a big part of the push toward Android 5.0 Lollipop, with the first version of Android that enables Full Disk Encryption (FDE) by default on new devices.
AnandTech has now discovered that this forced security actually kills read/write performance on some devices, testing a Nexus 6 with some benchmark numbers to prove it. The benchmarks, below, are using AndEBench, where FDE has a really bad hit on performance. When FDE is enabled on AnandTech's Nexus 6 smartphone, random read performance drops by 62.9%, while random write speeds slump by 50.5%. That's not the worse of it, where sequential read speeds are hit by a huge 80.7% drop in speeds.
FDE is only enabled by default with devices that ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop, so if you're upgrading to Lollipop, FDE isn't enabled by default, thus you're not affected by these slowdowns. When FDE is enabled, all writes to the flash are encrypted before before being saved, and then decrypted when they're being read and sent to RAM. Worse yet, are those who enable FDE with it requiring a key to decrypt, which is protected by a lockscreen password. This means people who opt out of the passcode on the lockscreen, still experience the performance hit on their Lollipop-powered device, without the benefits of FDE's encryption.