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Comcast Xfinity Wi-Fi Discloses Customer Names and Addresses ( 47

itwbennett writes: Despite assurances that only business listings and not customer names and home addresses would appear in the public search results when someone searches for an Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspot, that is exactly what's happened when the service was initiated 2 years ago — and is still happening now, writes CSO's Steve Ragan. And that isn't the only security issue with the service. Another level of exposure centers on accountability. Ken Smith, senior security architect with K Logix in Brookline, Ma., discovered that Comcast is relying on the device's MAC address as a key component of authentication.

How Hollywood's Hedy Helped Heighten Handhelds ( 67

szczys writes: Hedy Lamarr is a household name for the wrong reason. Her name is known as a Hollywood actress, but her legacy is in your pocket and reaches far more people than her movies. She was a brilliant thinker who plied her skills during World War II, developing technology that could help to win the war. Her patent wasn't used at the time, but is a foundation of spread-spectrum which is used in the radio modules of your cellphone: WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and others. This frequency hopping concept sat unused for decades before being added to the most ubiquitous of wireless connectivity methods.

FCC Clarifies: It's Legal To Hack Your Router ( 85

Mark Wilson writes with an update to an earlier report that the wording of new FCC regulations could mean that it would be illegal to modfiy the software running on wireless routers by installing alternative firmwares. Instead, The commission has now acknowledged that there was more than a little confusion from people who believed that manufacturers would be encouraged to prevent router modifications. The FCC wants to make it clear that most router hacking is fine and will remain fine. With a few exceptions, that is. In a blog post entitled Clearing the Air on Wi-Fi Software Updates, Julius Knapp from the FCC tries to clear up any misunderstandings that may exist.

Huawei Battery Upgrade Means Dramatically Faster Charging For Mobile Devices 75

Computerworld reports a welcome development for everyone with battery powered portable electronics, which might just have applications further afield, too (like electric cars): Huawei has developed a battery based on conventional lithium-ion chemistry but tweaked with the addition of graphite atoms bonded to the anode. From the article: That change means faster charging but not at the expense of usage life or a sacrifice in the amount of energy that can be stored in each battery, [the company] said. It was developed by Huawei research and development subsidiary Watt Lab and the company showed off two prototypes in videos posted online. One of the two batteries has a capacity of 3,000mAh (milliampere hours) -- about equivalent to the batteries in modern smartphones -- and can be charged to 48 percent of capacity in five minutes. The second has a much smaller capacity of 600mAh but reaches 68 percent of capacity in just two minutes.
Wireless Networking

An Algorithm To Facilitate Uber-Style Dynamic Phone Tariffs ( 75

An anonymous reader writes: A new paper proposes an algorithm to help network providers furnish 'surge' pricing for mobile data and other network communications, citing a 50% shortfall between demand and capacity over the next five years as an indicator that consumers may have to be shepherded out of the congested times and areas in order for normal service to continue to be maintained. Just don't tell any of the people in charge of airport wireless networks.
Wireless Networking

LA's Smart LED Street Lights Boost Wireless Connectivity ( 75

An anonymous reader writes: Los Angeles will introduce a smart street lighting system, featuring connected LEDs and fully-integrated 4G LTE wireless technology. In a collaboration between Dutch tech firm Philips and Swedish telco Ericsson, the SmartPole project aims to deliver LA citizens public lighting which is energy efficient and improves network performance in urban areas. By the close of this week, a total of 24 SmartPoles will be installed across the Hollywood area. The city plans to place 100 poles over the coming year, with a further 500 to follow.

FCC Fines Another Large Firm For Blocking WiFi 138

AmiMoJo writes: Another company is learning about the fine points of Section 333 of the Communications Act, which prohibits willful interference with any licensed or authorized radio communications. This time, M.C. Dean, who provided the Baltimore Convention Center's in-house WiFi service, were caught by the FCC sending deauthentication frames to prevent hotspot users maintaining a connection. The complainant alleged that M.C. Dean's actions were identical to those that had earned Marriott a $600,000 fine only weeks earlier.

Sprint Signs First Direct Roaming Agreement With Cuba ( 17

An anonymous reader writes: Sprint is now the first U.S. wireless carrier to sign a direct roaming agreement with Cuba. Sprint already has a direct long-distance interconnection agreement with the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA). "As the commercial relationship between the U.S. and Cuba continues to progress, it is expected that the number of travelers to Cuba will increase exponentially," said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. "We want to make sure any Sprint customer traveling to Cuba can use their phone the same way as they do in the United States."

How a Group of Rural Washington Neighbors Created Their Own Internet Service ( 94

An anonymous reader writes with a story that might warm the hearts of anyone just outside the service area of a decent internet provider: Faced with a local ISP that couldn't provide modern broadband, Orcas Island residents designed their own network and built it themselves. The nonprofit Doe Bay Internet Users Association (DBIUA), founded by [friends Chris Brems and Chris Sutton], and a few friends, now provide Internet service to a portion of the island. It's a wireless network with radios installed on trees and houses in the Doe Bay portion of Orcas Island. Those radios get signals from radios on top of a water tower, which in turn receive a signal from a microwave tower across the water in Mount Vernon, Washington.

Universities, Gov't Testing Magnetic Resonance Charging For EVs In Transit ( 77

Lucas123 writes: At least two universities are testing the use of magnetic resonance and mobile receivers to charge electric vehicles while they're on roadways. Partially funded by a multi-million dollar DOE grant, Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research has been testing stationary wireless vehicle charging and is now preparing to test mobile wireless recharging for vehicles.In the U.K., the government is expected to perform off-road trials of dynamic wireless charging that it acquired from researchers at North Carolina State University. The idea behind dynamic wireless charging is to create a series of embedded highway stations that can incrementally recharge EV carrying mobile receivers as the vehicles drive by. The vehicles would use a Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) technology to communicate with roadway chargers. DSRC can support both stationary wireless charging and in-motion wireless charging with the same system architecture. DSRC is already being used in crash avoidance systems and is expected to be required over the next five years, so the charging technology could piggyback on the DSRC modules already installed.

Chase and MasterCard Jump Into Mobile Payments ( 56

itwbennett writes: JP Morgan Chase said Monday that it plans to launch its own smartphone payment platform in mid-2016. 'Chase Pay will be based on CurrentC, a retailer-led mobile payment system that has largely been written off by Silicon Valley techies for its reliance on barcodes rather than the more sophisticated NFC (near-field communications) technology adopted by its competitors,' writes Martyn Williams. CurrentC, and therefore Chase Pay, is compatible with a much larger number of smartphones than the rival services from Apple, Google and Samsung. Meanwhile, MasterCard announced a program that aims to turn any type of gadget into a payment device, from car keys to fitness trackers.

Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over iOS Wi-Fi Assist ( 212

An anonymous reader writes: A class-action suit has been filed against Apple in U.S. District Court over Wi-Fi Assist being turned on by default in iOS 9. Wi-Fi Assist is designed to switch to cellular data when a user is trying to perform an action over the internet on a poor Wi-Fi signal. This has the natural side effect of using cellular data. Since iOS 9 turned it on for many users, they weren't necessarily expecting that extra use, causing some of them to exceed their data caps. A former Apple employee who was in a leadership position for Mac OS X Wi-Fi software has commented on the issue, saying that the Wi-Fi Assist mess was unavoidable given how Apple's management treats that part of the business.

Quoting :"[O]ne particular directorial edict which I pushed back against at the end of my tenure sticks out as not just particularly telling, but deeply misguided: 'Make it self-healing.' Self healing in this context meaning that the networking system, Wi-Fi in particular, should try to correct problems that caused the network to fail, which, if you have spent any time trying to diagnose networking issues is a clear misunderstanding of the issues involved. ... Asking the devices which connect to this vast complex network of networks to detect, and then transparently fix problems in the infrastructure without the permission of the administrators is, well, it's absolutely the pinnacle of buzzword driven product management. Real pointy-haired boss territory."


Dutch Researchers Show Connected Cars Can Be Cheaply Tracked ( 25

schwit1 writes to point out an experiment undertaken on the campus of the Netherlands' University of Twente, in which two wireless sensing stations were able to cheaply pinpoint a target vehicle equipped with "smart" V2X systems nearly half the time, and track it (albeit less precisely) even more, according to Jonathan Petit, Principal Scientist at software security company Security Innovation. "You can build a real-time tracking system using off-the-shelf devices with minimum sophistication," says Petit. In a paper to be presented at the Black Hat Europe security conference in November, he describes being able to place a security vehicle within either the residential or the business zones of the campus with 78 percent accuracy, and even locate it on individual roads 40 percent of the time. The tracking here was accomplished by listening for transmissions emitted over using 802.11p at 5.9 GHz. Says the article: Petit is now working with Ford, GM, and other carmakers to develop strategies to help secure connected cars. One interesting finding from his experiment was that a Manhattan-style grid of roads makes it difficult for potential attackers because there are more connections between the intersections. "This raises the idea of privacy-enhancing road networks, where cities are designed with the concept of privacy at their core," he says.

Tattling Kettles Help Researchers Crack WiFi Networks In London ( 162

New submitter campuscodi writes: Security researchers at Pen Test Partners have found a security vulnerability in the iKettle Wi-Fi Electric Kettle that allows attackers to crack the password of the WiFi network to which the kettle is connected. Researchers say that using this simple trick and information about iKettles, they drove around London, cracked home WiFi networks, and created a map of insecure WiFi networks across the city. The same researchers cracked a Samsung smart-fridge this summer to disclose Gmail passwords. If you have 6 minutes, there's a YouTube video you can watch.

Feds Looking Into Reports CIA Director's Email Was Hacked ( 100

An anonymous reader writes: The FBI and Secret Service are looking into reports that non-government personal accounts of CIA Director John Brennan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson were hacked. NBC reports: "Questions over a possible hacking of a private email account belonging to the CIA director arose late on Sunday after the New York Post published a story in which a hacker claimed to have gained access to the account. Described by the Post as a 'stoner high school student,' the individual claimed to have taken documents that included the Social Security numbers of top intelligence officials, among other information." ComputerWorld's story on the hack describes some of the images published by the hacker as well, poking fun at Brennan: Another screenshot shows Brennan’s wireless phone bill as the hacker taunted the CIA to “step your game up homies, we own everything of you.” One tweet contains a screenshot of suspicious activity logs as Brennan was “trying to get CWA arrested.” Yet another shows a CIA Office of General Counsel fax cover page. Supposedly, Brennan offered the hacker money to “leave him alone.”

LTE 4G Networks Put Androids At Risk of Overbilling and Phone Number Spoofing 113

An anonymous reader writes: Carnegie Mellon University's CERT security vulnerabilities database has issued an alert regarding the current status of LTE (Long-Term Evolution) mobile networks, which are plagued by four vulnerabilities that allow attackers to spoof phone numbers, overbill clients, create DoS (Denial of Service) states on the phone and network, and even obtain free data transfers without being charged. The vulnerabilities were discovered by 8 scientists which documented them in their research.

Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P Reviews Arrive ( 190

An anonymous reader writes: A few weeks ago, Google announced its new Nexus phones — the 5X built by LG, and the 6P built by Huawei. The phones are starting to ship, and reviews for both devices have landed. So far, they're largely positive. Ars Technica calls them the Android phones to beat, though criticizes them for having fairly large bezels and no wireless charging. Android Police says the 6P's form factor is an improvement over the Nexus 6, being slightly narrower and taller. Meanwhile, most publications report that the 5X does a good job at carrying on the legacy of the excellent Nexus 5. It's their lower end phone, and most reviews mention that it feels that way in the hand — but battery life is reportedly excellent. The Nexus 6P's battery is capable, but doesn't last as long. Fortunately, the worries about overheating with its Snapdragon 810 chip seem overblown.

Sprint Will Start Throttling Customers Who Exceed 23GB Monthly ( 153

CNET reports (and CTO John Saw explains on the company's blog) that Sprint has decided to taper access to a slice of its "unlimited" wireless data customers, by throttling access (not curtailing it, at least) to those who slurp down more than 23 gigabytes per month -- the same cap that T-Mobile has imposed. If you think "throttled" and "unlimited" don't quite jibe to describe the same service, you're not the only one to quibble: CNET notes that regulators have "begun scrutinizing the carriers' practice [of slowing access past a cap]. In June, the Federal Communications Commission threatened to fine AT&T $100 million for deceiving its customers by mislabeling its service as unlimited. The FCC also challenged Verizon when the company planned to expand its data throttling policy to its 4G customers. The company retracted that policy last fall. In June, Verizon also stopped slowing unlimited-data traffic for 3G customers."

FCC's WiFi Rule-Making: Making It Fair For Both Open Source and Proprietary ( 173

Bruce Perens writes: The FCC wants to be sure that WiFi drivers don't cause interference with airport weather radars, but their proposal to lock down WiFi firmware, won't fly. Many commenters in the proceeding have made it clear that Open Source firmware for WiFi devices must remain legal. While an "alternative" proposal to the FCC that would require that all WiFi routers be Open Source is getting most of the publicity today, I have proposed another alternative that would be fair for both Open Source and proprietary software. It requires approval of the source code of a WiFi driver by a person with a technical license from FCC, the GROL+Radar, if that driver is to be mass-distributed in binary form for use by RF-naïve users by either the manufacturer or Open Source. The license assures that the responsible person actually understands how to protect radar systems in a WiFi driver. It's pretty easy for someone competent in radio engineering to pass the license test, and many thousands of people hold the license today. Vendors and Open Source are treated the same. It doesn't place restrictions on testing and development, or conversion of WiFi equipment to other radio services. And it includes an explanation of the problem, for those of you who don't know what the uproar is about.

Why Cybersecurity Experts Want Open Source Routers ( 177

derekmead writes: A coalition of 260 cybersecurity experts is taking advantage of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) public comment period to push for open source Wi-Fi router firmware.

The cybersecurity experts asked the FCC on Wednesday to require router makers to open-source their firmware, or the basic software that controls its core functionality, as a condition for it being licensed for use in the US. The request comes amid a wider debate on how the FCC should ensure that Wi-Fi routers' wireless signals don't "go outside stated regulatory rules" and cause harmful interference to other devices like cordless phones, radar, and satellite dishes.