Category: Earthformed

Fingerprint Biometrics – Is It Really More Secure?

fingerprint-scanner Apple is clearly very pleased with the iPhone 5S and although its new biometric security system TouchID seems like a neat feature at first glance, the use of biometric data for security isn’t necessarily a good idea. The problem with fingerprint scanners is that they aren’t as secure as you might think, it raises some interesting privacy issues but worst of all once your biometric information has been compromised you can’t change it. In terms of security, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) has already shown that Apple’s TouchID can be tricked using easy everyday means. Although we are only talking about a $600 smartphone and there are easier crimes to commit than trying to lift someone’s fingerprints just so you can access their phone, the weaknesses in fingerprint scanning are applicable to every situation where they are used including on identity documents (like passports) or scanners at supermarkets. In 2007 the CCC demonstrated how to  trick a fingerprint scanner at a supermarket resulting in a shopping bill being charged to someone else’s account. In 2008 the group included thin film copies of the fingerprints of the then German Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble in its club magazine. The CCC’s webpage on how to fake fingerprints was uploaded in 2004, nearly a decade ago and the techniques described remain valid today. You can easily be forced to unlock your phone against your will. Forcing you to give up your passcode is much harder under most jurisdictions than just casually swiping your phone over your handcuffed hands – the Chaos Computer Club. There are also serious privacy questions around the use of biometric data. A senior US senator has written to Apple asking the Cupertino tech giant how the fingerprint data is encrypted on an iPhone 5S, whether any diagnostic data is ever […]

Six Revisions: A Complete Guide to VPS Hosting

Tweet Mar 30 2010 by Blue Derkin | 73 Comments A Comprehensive Guide to VPS Hosting Web hosting is a tricky business – there are a wide variety of options out there designed to fit a wide range of needs, but like with most things, there are trade-offs. Shared hosting is usually cheap and easy, but the resources are limited. Dedicated servers are powerful and customizable, but a certain level of technical knowledge can be required to run them, depending on the hosting company you choose. What happens, then, when your site is too big and gets too much traffic for a shared hosting plan, but doesn’t require the resources (or expenditure) of a dedicated server? If you find yourself asking these questions, then you should look into VPS hosting. Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is a flexible, scalable, and economical hosting solution that can fit the needs of almost any kind of website. It’s a perfect solution for those who have outgrown their shared hosting plans but don’t really need to move to a dedicated server. One thing to note before we dive in to examining the features and benefits of a VPS –  the specs on a VPS vary widely from host to host. To see if a certain host offers a certain feature, make sure to ask the provider. So What IS VPS, Anyway? In answering this question, maybe it’s better to examine how VPS hosting fits in to the overall offerings of most hosting companies. Shared hosting is just that – your site is hosted on a machine with a bunch of other sites, and each of you share the same resources, including RAM, disk space, and CPU.  Your site uses what it needs if it’s available, and if it’s not – well, that’s the […]

Android Police: Galaxy Note 3 Deep-Dive Review

You’ve been warned: the Galaxy Note II was probably my favorite smartphone of 2012, and it looks like its successor, the Note 3, is stealing my heart all over again. With big hardware improvements across the board, as well as substantial additions to software, the Note 3 feels like a true next-generation sort of phone. Samsung has rather effectively ruined every other large-screen device for me, and frankly, probably every other phone released this year. The thing I’ve come to like about the Note phones is their no-compromise approach to the big phone concept. Some large devices will sacrifice on the camera, the quality of the display, the processor, or practical ergonomics (*cough* Z Ultra *cough*) in order to meet a price or size target. Samsung, however, seems dead set on making the Note 3 the very best phone it can possibly be, period. And it’s not just about specifications – anyone can have those. It’s about putting them to good use. While I will be among the first in line to call out some of Samsung’s superfluous software gimmicks, there’s little denying they’ve developed features that have legitimate uses, and that their phones have a degree of functional versatility that remains unmatched by any of their competitors. With the Note 3, Samsung does add a little to the pile of toggles and overflow menus, but it has also refined and honed many parts of TouchWiz NatureUX 2.0 (yep, that’s the name), including some Note-specific features that may be worth a second look. And while NUX still won’t be winning any beauty contests, it still does focus on providing in-built functionality stock Android lacks. wm_IMG_6894 The Note 3 is, to me, is Samsung’s way of saying “here’s what we can do.” It’s the phone that, in my opinion, every […]

Why the iOS 7 Activation Lock Is a Disaster Waiting to Happen

There’s no question that the iPhone 5S and iOS 7 together make for the best phone ever made. The din of offhand, dismissive criticism from the Android fan base that Apple never innovates should be silenced, at least for awhile, given that Apple now sells the only dual-tone LED flash; the only 64-bit mobile CPU; the only 64-bit OS; the fastest touch-screen performance phones by far; the only wide-scale deployment of Multipath TCP; and the only useful, usable and widely used fingerprint scanner ever placed on any consumer electronics device. Yes, there’s plenty of petty grousing . And who knows what competitors will ship tomorrow? But today, it’s clear that Apple rules the smartphone market. The Android fan critics now also have to contend with a razor sharp, concise rebuttal to the cacophony of general criticism of Apple by Apple VP Craig Federighi: “ New is easy. Right is hard. ” He said that after referring to Samsung by saying that Apple “didn’t start opportunistically with 10 bits of technology that we could try to find a use for to add to our features list.” Ouch! Unfortunately, iOS 7 is going to cause some huge problems that nobody is talking about yet, but will do when the unwanted bricking epidemic starts. The Looming Activation Lock Crisis Everybody’s praising iOS 7’s new Activation Lock. And, yes, it’s a great feature. Activation Lock bricks your iPhone or iPad when you report it lost or stolen with Find My iPhone. Once bricked, the device cannot be used by whomever is in possession of it. This is a great deterrent for “Apple Picking” crimes where thieves deliberately look for white earbuds to jack Apple devices based on their high re-sale value. Activation Lock is great, but also introduces new problems. In addition to […]

Dread Pirate Roberts Illegal Drug Website Siezed by Feds – Gawker.com

Once upon a time, you could sign on to Silk Road and buy everything from LSD to Moon Rock molly with Bitcoin. That time is now over because the FBI along with a few other federal agencies have seized the domain and shutdown the drug-dealing site. The only question is, what took them so long? Silk Road found its way into popular culture a couple of years ago when Gawker’s Adrian Chen a big exposée on "the site where you can buy any drug imaginable." Chen made the point that it wasn’t just illegal drugs that were being sold on the anonymous black market site. But when you look at the criminal complaint , it’s pretty obvious that it’s the drugs the Feds are interested in. The Criminal Complaint Indeed, the very first count in the complaint is for "Narcotics Trafficking Conspiracy." The complaint is filed against a Mr. Ross William Ulbricht, a.k.a. "Dread Pirate Roberts," a.k.a. "DPR," a.k.a. "Silk Road." The second and third counts include "Computer Hacking Conspiracy" and "Money Laundering Conspiracy," and based on the numbers in the complaint, the scale of the operation was nothing less than severe. The complaint says that Silk Road did some $1.2 billion in sales, amounting to $80 million in commissions: S This was not run like your standard member of the Better Business Bureau, either. At one point, Ulbricht actually tried to hire a hit man to kill a Silk Road user and paid in Bitcoin: S And if you had any hopes that Silk Road was actually a safe place to buy massive quantities of illegal drugs, think again. The cops were on to this place a long time ago, and they had undercovers carry out over 100 purchases. They even tested the drugs, and the drugs were […]

It Hits the Fan for Mom Bloggers Everywhere – We're looking at you WSJ

Let’s start with the title. “The Mommy Business Trip” is the headline on Katherine Rosman’s piece in the Wall Street Journal and its tagline is the equally icky “Conferences Appeal to Women With A Guilt-Free, Child-Free Reason to Leave Home.” It gets worse from there. In 1,228 words, Rosman takes a real trend — the explosion of conferences for women with online businesses and a parallel surge in the numbers of advertisers who are courting those entrepreneurs — and turns it into a tale of desperate housewives who use the pretext of work as an excuse to escape from home and act like ninnies. A few questions: Is it possible that the reason a woman attends events like BlogHer and Mom 2.0 is NOT because she needs an excuse to “leave her husband and children,” but rather because those conferences provide her with the connection and know-how to do her job? Would Rosman ever describe Dad 2.0, which attracted hundreds of men who write about parenting, as a gaggle of Daddies “who need a legitimate reason to leave home”? Haven’t men been going to sales meetings and conferences for generations? Staying at lovely hotels and dining in fine restaurants — and sometimes acting really silly? Do you think there is a single article about men and work travel that oozes the same patronizing tone as this one? Find me one. I challenge you. Isn’t there a big ‘ol conference in Austin every spring , where the crowd is mostly male and the schmoozing and partying is considered far more of the draw than the actual sessions? Didn’t Rosman write about that conference two years back, calling South By Southwest a place where “Internet entrepreneurs, engineers, journalists, promoters, moneymen and web-savvy Hollywood types meet to discuss technology, brand and buzz”? […]