Game Dev Releases Sabotaged Torrent to Teach Pirates with Irony

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Game piracy isn’t just something that affects big studios, and it can have a huge impact on smaller teams; that’s why the coders behind Game Dev Tycoon decided to release their own cracked version, albeit with a moral lesson hardcoded for pirates. Fully expecting a cracked copy of the game to surface shortly after the $7.99 Game Dev Tycoon was released, Greenheart Games pipped the pirates to the post and added a torrent of their own. However, what downloaders didn’t realize was that the cracked version had a bug the authentic one didn’t: players would inevitably run into the effects of game theft. 

After a period of play – particularly if the pirate gamer is doing well, their in-game studio creating highly-rated titles – a message from one of the virtual dev team pops up warning them that piracy has become a problem:

“Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt”

After that point, it’s pretty much game-over for the player’s studio, with their bank account shrinking and bankruptcy the only result. Unsurprisingly, the clueless pirates weren’t too keen on a game that seemingly had no outcome but failure, missing the irony of their own behaviors in the process.

“Why are there so many people that pirate? It ruins me! I had like 5m and then people suddenly started pirating everything I made, even if I got really good ratings (that I usually get). Not fair” Anonymous complaint

After a single day out in the wild, over 90-percent of those playing Game Dev Tycoon were using the cracked version, Greenheart Games discovered, thanks to some phone-home anonymous usage code built into both versions. Unfortunately, attempts to actually encourage those who might be tempted to pirate the game to instead pay for a legitimate copy have floundered, the developers say.

Whereas Greenheart Games says it will still continue with non-DRM on its titles, that isn’t the approach some teams have decided to take. Notably, Microsoft is believed to be adding a mandatory internet connection requirement to its next-gen “Xbox 720” which would require titles be installed to the console’s hard-drive, and then connect to a server to be validated before play can take place.

Greenheart’s site is currently up and down, probably due to interest in this little life-lesson, but you can find the Google cache here.

Source: Slash Gear

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LG’s First Flexible OLED Phone Due Before Year End

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LG plans to launch a flexible OLED smartphone before the end of the year, the company’s VP of mobile has confirmed, though it’s unclear to what extent the work-in-progress handset will actually flex. The OLED panel in question is the handiwork of LG Display according to VP of LG mobile Yoon Bu-hyun, the WSJ reports, with the proposed device set to launch sometime in Q4.

LG Display’s work on flexible OLEDs has been underway for some time, though the company’s efforts have perhaps been overshadowed somewhat by rival Samsung’s YOUM development. Last year, according to a Korea Times report, LG Display was preparing for mass-production of flexible screens by the second half of 2013.

Samsung, meanwhile, demonstrated a flexible OLED concept back at CES, though the screen wasn’t implemented in quite the way many had expected. Rather than being a clamshell device, with the flexibility used to allow the prototype to open up and reveal a bigger panel, Samsung instead wrapped the display around the edge.

That allowed the handset to display status updates along the side, making for at-a-glance notifications without needing to power up the whole display. However, Samsung insisted at the time that the device was merely a concept of what flexible OLED could be used for, not an indication of an actual product in development.

While OLED panels have become more common in their use on mobile devices, LG Display still faces potential bottlenecks in ensuring supplies for its smartphone affiliate. Analysts have already warned that the next-gen displays still suffer from low yields, which likely means high prices and low numbers of products.

That would probably put the eventual device in line with LG’s curved OLED TVs, demonstrated at CES, officially intended for the market but at a cost that will make the potential audience tiny. Nonetheless, as a proof of capabilities, it suggests we could see flexible OLED phones more widespread in 2014 and beyond.

Source: Slashgear

WHO: H7N9 Virus ‘The Most Lethal So Far’

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As the death toll from China’s bird flu outbreak rose to 22 with news of another victim in eastern Zhejiang Province, the World Health Organization warned the H7N9 virus was one of the most lethal that doctors and medical investigators had faced in recent years.

“This is an unusually dangerous virus for humans,” Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health, security and the environment told a news conference in Beijing Wednesday.

“We think this virus is more easily transmitted from poultry to humans than H5N1,” he added, referring to the bird flu outbreak between 2004 and 2007 that claimed 332 lives.

“This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses that we have seen so far.”

As investigations continue into the possible sources of infection, Fukuda warned that authorities were still struggling to understand the virus. The WHO said China must brace for continued infections.

“I want to give you a caveat, or give you a little bit of context. We really are at the beginning of our understanding of this virus,” Fukuda said. “(The situation remains) complex, difficult and it is evolving.”

So far there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, the authorities say.

“We do want to note, however, that if limited person-to-person transmission is demonstrated in the future, this really will not be surprising,” Fukuda warned, adding that it was critical to remain vigilant, monitoring the virus’s spread and mutation.
“We are not sure that the clusters were caused by common exposure to a source of the virus or were due to limited person-to-person transmission,” he said. “Moreover we have not seen sustained person-to-person transmission.”

While some elements of the outbreak have baffled investigators — specifically why the virus tends to target an elderly demographic and the fact that it is asymptomatic or mild in some cases and lethal in others — authorities have claimed some significant victories in the fight against a pandemic.

Anne Kelso, the director of a WHO-collaborating research center, said researchers had seen a “dramatic slowdown” in human cases in Shanghai after the city’s live poultry market was shut on April 6. Describing the finding as “very encouraging,” she said evidence suggests the closure of live poultry markets is an effective way to stop the spread of the virus.

The joint inspection team from China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission and the World Health Organization also found that, so far, no migratory birds have tested positive for the virus, taking another worrying route of transmission out of the equation.

It said the H7N9 virus is only being found in chickens, ducks and pigeons at live poultry markets.

WHO officials said there are already efforts underway in other countries to develop a vaccine after Chinese officials admitted international help would be needed with this.

Meanwhile, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said in its daily update on H7N9 cases that a total of 108 H7N9 cases have been reported in China, including 22 deaths. Most cases have been confined to Shanghai and neighboring provinces in eastern China.

Source: CNN

New ‘BadNews’ Malware Downloaded By ‘At Least 2m Android Users’

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Malware that avoided detection and made its way onto the official Google Play store has been downloaded at least 2 million times, a security firm warned today.

Google was notified of the outbreak by Lookout and all affected rogue apps have been removed from the Android store. As many as 9 million could have downloaded the dirty code.

Lookout found 32 applications contained code from the “BadNews” software development kit, which masqueraded as a standard advertising network SDK.

But it was particularly aggressive, sending phone number and device IDs to their command and control servers, and prompting users to install applications, including AlphaSMS, a “well-known premium rate SMS fraud malware”, which can cost users plenty of money.

“It is not clear whether some or all of these apps were launched with the explicit intent of hosting BadNews or whether legitimate developers were duped into installing a malicious advertising network,” the company wrote in a blog post.

“However, based on our analysis of the backend code behind a number of these purported ad networks there is little doubt that BadNews is a fraudulent monetisation SDK.”

“Further, it is clear that a substantial amount of code in BadNews has previously appeared in other families associated with Eastern European toll fraud.”

Lookout identified three C&C servers, in Russia, Ukraine and Germany.

It’s another big outbreak of Android malware, which has been spreading rapidly in recent years. NQ Mobile reported earlier this week that mobile malware jumped 163 percent in 2012, with almost all threats aimed at Android.

Governments appear to be using mobile Trojans too. China was this month implicated in attacks on Tibetan activists, which sought to get malicious kit on Android devices.

Source: Tech Week Europe

DDoS Attack Bandwidth Jumps 718%

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Photo via Rivalhost.com

The average bandwidth seen in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks has recently increased by a factor of seven, jumping from 6 Gbps to 48 Gbps. Furthermore, 10% of DDoS attacks now exceed 60 Gbps.
Those findings come from a new report released Wednesday by DDoS mitigation service provider Prolexic Technologies, which saw across-the-board increases in DDoS attack metrics involving the company’s customers.

“Average packet-per-second rate and average bit rate spiked in the first quarter and both are growing at a fast clip,”

said Prolexic president Stuart Scholly in a statement.

“When you have average — not peak — rates in excess of 45 Gbps and 30 million packets per second, even the largest enterprises, carriers and, quite frankly, most mitigation providers, are going to face significant challenges.”

In the first three months of 2013, 77% of DDoS attacks targeted bandwidth capacity and routing infrastructure, while 23% were application-level attacking that didn’t overwhelm targeted networks through packet quantity, but rather by disrupting critical applications or processes running on a server.

The report also found that between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, the total number of attacks increased marginally — by only 2% — while attack duration increased by 7%, from 32.2 hours to 34.5 hours. But the greatest number of DDoS attacks continue to be launched from China, although the volume of such attacks has recently declined. While 55% of all attacks came from China at the end of last year, by March 2013 that had dropped to 41%, followed by the United States (22%), Germany (11%), Iran (6%) and India (5%).

The source of attacks doesn’t mean that a country’s government or even criminal gangs are directly responsible for launching DDoS campaigns. For example, the Operation Ababil bank disruption campaign being run by al-Qassam Cyber Fighters relies in part on hacking into vulnerable WordPress servers and installing such DDoS toolkits as “itsoknoproblembro” – aka Brobot Attackers then use command-and-control servers to issue attack instructions to the toolkits, thus transforming legitimate websites into DDoS launch platforms.

Given that situation, it’s no surprise that China, the United States and Germany — which all sport a relatively large Internet infrastructure — are also tops for DDoS attack origin. But Prolexic’s report said it’s odd that Iran, which has a very small Internet architecture by comparison, should be the source of so many attacks.

“This is very interesting because Iran enforces strict browsing policies similar to Cuba and North Korea,”

according to Prolexic’s report.

As DDoS attack sizes increase, so do fears of an Armaggdon scenario, in which the attack not only disrupts a targeted site, but every site or service provider in between. According to Prolexic’s report, the largest single attack it’s mitigated to date occurred in March, when an “enterprise customer” was hit with an attack that peaked at 130 Gbps. While that wasn’t equal to the 300 Gbps attack experienced by Spamhaus, it still represents well more than most businesses can handle, unless they work with their service provider or third parties to build a better DDoS mitigation defense.

On that front, some businesses tap dedicated DDoS mitigation services from the likes of Arbor Networks, CloudFlare, Prolexic and Verisign.

“There are a number of DDoS mitigation technologies out there, and we see organizations that are deploying the technologies in their own infrastructure and in their own environments,”

as well as working with service providers, said Chris Novak, managing principal of the RISK Team at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, speaking recently by phone.

“Like so many things in the security space, the layered approach is the most effective for most organizations,”

he said.

Source: Information Week

Tiny Injectable LEDs Help Neuroscientists Study the Brain

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A new class of tiny, injectable LEDs is illuminating the deep mysteries of the brain.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis developed ultrathin, flexible optoelectronic devices – including LEDs the size of individual neurons – that are lighting the way for neuroscientists in the field of optogenetics and beyond.

Led by John A. Rogers, the Swanlund professor of materials science and engineering at the U. of I., and Michael R. Bruchas, a professor of anesthesiology at Washington University, the researchers will publish their work in the April 12 issue of the journal Science.

“These materials and device structures open up new ways to integrate semiconductor components directly into the brain,”

said Rogers, who directs the Frederick Seitz Research Laboratory at the U. of I.

“More generally, the ideas establish a paradigm for delivering sophisticated forms of electronics into the body: ultra-miniaturized devices that are injected into and provide direct interaction with the depths of the tissue.”

The researchers demonstrated the first application of their devices in optogenetics, a new area of neuroscience that uses light to stimulate targeted neural pathways in the brain. The procedure involves genetically programming specific neurons to respond to light. Optogenetics allows researchers to study precise brain functions in isolation in ways that are impossible with electrical stimulation, which affects neurons throughout a broad area, or with drugs, which saturate the whole brain.

Optogenetics experiments with mice illustrate the ability to train complex behaviors without physical reward, and to alleviate certain anxiety responses. Yet fundamental insights into the structure and function of the brain that emerge from such studies could have implications for treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety and other neurological disorders.

While a number of important neural pathways now can be studied by optogenetics, researchers continue to struggle with the engineering challenge of delivering light to precise regions deep within the brain. The most widely used methods tether the animals to lasers with fiber-optic cables embedded in the skull and brain – an invasive procedure that also limits movements, affects natural behaviors and prevents study of social interactions.

The newly developed technologies bypass these limitations with specially designed powerful LEDs – among the world’s smallest, with sizes comparable to single cells – that are injected into the brain to provide direct illumination and precise control. The devices are printed onto the tip end of a thin, flexible plastic ribbon – thinner than a human hair and narrower than the eye of a needle – that can insert deep into the brain with very little stress to tissue.

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“One of the big issues with implanting something into the brain is the potential damage it can cause,”

Bruchas said.

“These devices are specifically designed to minimize those problems, and they are much more effective than traditional approaches.”

The active devices include not only LEDs but also various sensors and electrodes that are delivered into the brain with a thin, releasable micro-injection needle. The ribbon connects the devices to a wireless antenna and a rectifier circuit that harvests radio frequency energy to power the devices. This module mounts on top of the head and can be unplugged from the ribbon when not in use.

“Study of complex behaviors, social interactions and natural responses demands technologies that impose minimal constraints,”

Rogers said.

“The systems we have developed allow the animals to move freely and to interact with one another in a natural way, but at the same time provide full, precise control over the delivery of light into the depth of the brain.”

The complete device platform includes LEDs, temperature and light sensors, microscale heaters and electrodes that can both stimulate and record electrical activity. These components enable many other important functions – for example, researchers can measure the electrical activity that results from light stimulation, giving additional insight into complex neural circuits and interactions within the brain.

The breadth of device options suggests that this wireless, injectable platform could be used for other types of neuroscience studies – or even applied to other organs. For example, Rogers’ team has developed related devices for stimulating peripheral nerves in the leg as a potential route to pain management. They also have built devices with LEDs of multiple colors, so that several neural circuits can be studied with a single injected system.

“These cellular-scale, injectable devices represent frontier technologies with potentially broad implications,”

Rogers said. His group is known for its success in the development of soft sheets of sophisticated electronics that wrap the brain or the heart or that adhere directly to the skin.

“But none of those devices penetrates into the depth of tissue,”

Rogers said.

“That’s the challenge that we’re trying to address with this new approach. Many cases, ranging from fundamental studies to clinical interventions, demand access directly into the depth. This is just the first of many examples of injectable semiconductor microdevices that will follow.”

The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy supported this work. Rogers is also affiliated with the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory; the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology; and the departments of bioengineering, chemistry, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical science and engineering at the University of Illinois.

Source: University of Illinois

Regulators Looking into Expensive In-App Purchases

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Offering a game for free — but charging for further content in-game like extra levels, power-ups and accessories — is an extremely popular business model for many companies. Currently, 80 of the 100 top-grossing apps on the Google Play Store in the are free-to-play but make their money with in-game purchases.

“The OFT investigation is exploring whether these games are misleading”

Official statement, Office of Fair Trading

The OFT’s statement reads:

“The OFT investigation is exploring whether these games are misleading, commercially aggressive or otherwise unfair. In particular, the OFT is looking into whether these games include ‘direct exhortations’ to children — a strong encouragement to make a purchase, or to do something that will necessitate making a purchase, or to persuade their parents or other adults to make a purchase for them. This is unlawful under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.”

There are numerous reports of children running up large bills without their parents’ knowldeg. Wired.co.uk reported in March on an eight-year-old boy who racked up a bill of £980 for virtual donuts on The Simpsons: Tapped Out for iPad. The boy’s parents only realised when their monthly phone bill came through, with purchases on it ranging from £1.50 to as high as £75 — for donuts, remember, that aren’t even real.

Apple agreed in this case to refund the bill, a decision that the company usually makes on a case-by-case basis. In the US, Apple was forced into a settlement in a class-action suit brought over what were labelled “bait apps” — if someone could prove that a minor made an in-game purchase without permission from the responsible adult, the money could be reclaimed in either cash or iTunes credit.

That’s just a US case, but the OFT’s investigation could see a similar case resulting in the UK depending on what evidence is uncovered. The OFT has asked parents to write in

“with information about potentially misleading or commercially aggressive practices they are aware of in relation to these games”.

The contact page is on the OFT’s site.

Games companies are also being contacted for information on how they advertise in-game purchases. The OFT’s Cavendish Elithorn  said:

“We are concerned that children and their parents could be subject to unfair pressure to purchase when they are playing games they thought were free, but which can actually run up substantial costs.”

“The OFT is not seeking to ban in-game purchases, but the games industry must ensure it is complying with the relevant regulations so that children are protected. We are speaking to the industry and will take enforcement action if necessary.”

The report of the OFT’s findings is due to be published in October 2013.

Source: Wired.co.uk

Secrets of FBI Smartphone Surveillance Tool Revealed in Court Fight

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A legal fight over the government’s use of a secret surveillance tool has provided new insight into how the controversial tool works and the extent to which Verizon Wireless aided federal agents in using it to track a suspect.

Court documents in a case involving accused identity thief Daniel David Rigmaiden describe how the wireless provider reached out remotely to reprogram an air card the suspect was using in order to make it communicate with the government’s surveillance tool so that he could be located.

Rigmaiden, who is accused of being the ringleader or a $4 million tax fraud operation, asserts in court documents that in July 2008 Verizon surreptitiously reprogrammed his air card to make it respond to incoming voice calls from the FBI and also reconfigured it so that it would connect to a fake cell site, or stingray, that the FBI was using to track his location.

Air cards are devices that plug into a computer and use the wireless cellular networks of phone providers to connect the computer to the internet. The devices are not phones and therefore don’t have the ability to receive incoming calls, but in this case Rigmaiden asserts that Verizon reconfigured his air card to respond to surreptitious voice calls from a landline controlled by the FBI.

The FBI calls, which contacted the air card silently in the background, operated as pings to force the air card into revealing its location.

In order to do this, Verizon reprogrammed the device so that when an incoming voice call arrived, the card would disconnect from any legitimate cell tower to which it was already connected, and send real-time cell-site location data to Verizon, which forwarded the data to the FBI. This allowed the FBI to position its stingray in the neighborhood where Rigmaiden resided. The stingray then “broadcast a very strong signal” to force the air card into connecting to it, instead of reconnecting to a legitimate cell tower, so that agents could then triangulate signals coming from the air card and zoom-in on Rigmaiden’s location.

To make sure the air card connected to the FBI’s simulator, Rigmaiden says that Verizon altered his air card’s Preferred Roaming List so that it would accept the FBI’s stingray as a legitimate cell site and not a rogue site, and also changed a data table on the air card designating the priority of cell sites so that the FBI’s fake site was at the top of the list.

Rigmaiden makes the assertions in a 369-page document he filed in support of a motion to suppress evidence gathered through the stingray. Rigmaiden collected information about how the stingray worked from documents obtained from the government, as well as from records obtained through FOIA requests filed by civil liberties groups and from open-source literature.

During a hearing in a US District Court in Arizona on March 28 to discuss the motion, the government did not dispute Rigmaiden’s assertions about Verizon’s activities.

The actions described by Rigmaiden are much more intrusive than previously known information about how the government uses stingrays, which are generally employed for tracking cell phones and are widely used in drug and other criminal investigations.

The government has long asserted that it doesn’t need to obtain a probable-cause warrant to use the devices because they don’t collect the content of phone calls and text messages and operate like pen-registers and trap-and-traces, collecting the equivalent of header information.

The government has conceded, however, that it needed a warrant in his case alone — because the stingray reached into his apartment remotely to locate the air card — and that the activities performed by Verizon and the FBI to locate Rigmaiden were all authorized by a court order signed by a magistrate.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, who have filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden’s motion, maintain that the order does not qualify as a warrant and that the government withheld crucial information from the magistrate — such as identifying that the tracking device they planned to use was a stingray and that its use involved intrusive measures — thus preventing the court from properly fulfilling its oversight function.

“It shows you just how crazy the technology is, and [supports] all the more the need to explain to the court what they are doing,” says EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury. “This is more than just [saying to Verizon] give us some records that you have sitting on your server. This is reconfiguring and changing the characteristics of the [suspect’s] property, without informing the judge what’s going on.”

The secretive technology, generically known as a stingray or IMSI catcher, allows law enforcement agents to spoof a legitimate cell tower in order to trick nearby mobile phones and other wireless communication devices like air cards into connecting to the stingray instead of a phone carrier’s legitimate tower.

When devices connect, stingrays can see and record their unique ID numbers and traffic data, as well as information that points to the device’s location.

By moving the stingray around and gathering the wireless device’s signal strength from various locations in a neighborhood, authorities can pinpoint where the device is being used with much more precision than they can get through data obtained from a mobile network provider’s fixed tower location.

Use of the spy technology goes back at least 20 years. In a 2009 Utah case, an FBI agent described using a cell site emulator more than 300 times over a decade and indicated that they were used on a daily basis by U.S, Marshals, the Secret Service and other federal agencies.

The FBI used a similar device to track former hacker Kevin Mitnick in 1994, though the version used in that case was much more primitive and passive.

A 1996 Wired story about the Mitnick case called the device a Triggerfish and described it as “a technician’s device normally used for testing cell phones.” According to the story, the Triggerfish was “a rectangular box of electronics about a half a meter high controlled by a PowerBook” that was essentially “a five-channel receiver, able to monitor both sides of a conversation simultaneously.” The crude technology was hauled around in a station wagon and van. A black coaxial cable was strung out of the vehicle’s window to connect the Triggerfish to a direction-finding antenna on the vehicle’s roof, which had four antenna prongs that reached 30 centimeters into the sky.

The technology has become much sleeker and less obtrusive since then, but still operates under the same principles.

In Rigmaiden’s case, agents apparently used two devices made by a Florida-based company called Harris. One was the company’s StingRay system, which is designed to work from a vehicle driven around a neighborhood to narrow a suspect’s location to a building. Once agents tracked the signals from Rigmaiden’s air card to the Domicilio Apartments complex in Santa Clara, California, they apparently used another device made by Harris called the — a handheld system that allowed them to walk through the complex and zero-in on Rigmaiden’s air card in apartment 1122.

Although a number of companies make stingrays, including Verint, View Systems, Altron, NeoSoft, MMI, Ability, and Meganet, the Harris line of cell site emulators are the only ones that are compatible with CDMA2000-based devices. Others can track GSM/UMTS-based communications, but the Harris emulators can track CDMA2000, GSM and iDEN devices, as well as UMTS. The Harris StingRay and KingFish devices can also support three different communication standards simultaneously, without having to be reconfigured.

Rigmaiden was arrested in 2008 on charges that he was the mastermind behind an operation that involved stealing more than $4 million in refunds from the IRS by filing fraudulent tax returns. He and others are accused of using numerous fake IDs to open internet and phone accounts and using more than 175 different IP addresses around the United States to file the fake returns, which were often filed in bulk as if through an automated process. Rigmaiden has been charged with 35 counts of wire fraud, 35 counts of identify theft, one count of unauthorized computer access and two counts of mail fraud.

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The surveillance of Rigmaiden began in June 2008 when agents served Verizon with a grand jury subpoena asking for data on three IP addresses that were allegedly used to electronically file some of the fraudulent tax returns. Verizon reported back that the three IP addresses were linked to an air card account registered in the name of Travis Rupard — an identity that Rigmaiden allegedly stole. The air card was identified as a UTStarcom PC5740 device that was assigned a San Francisco Bay Area phone number.

A court order was then submitted to Verizon Wireless requiring the company to provide historical cell site data on the account for the previous 30 days to determine what cell towers the air card had contacted and determine its general location. Verizon responded by supplying the government with information that included the latitude and longitude coordinates for five cell sites in San Jose and Santa Clara cities, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

In July, the government served Verizon Wireless with another court order directing the company to assist the FBI in the use and monitoring of a mobile tracking device to locate an unidentified suspect. The order directed Verizon Wireless to provide the FBI with any “technical assistance needed to ascertain the physical location of the [air card]….”

The government has
fought hard to suppress information on how it uses stingrays, but in his motion to suppress, Rigmaiden lays out in great detail how the surveillance occurred and the nature of the technical assistance Verizon provided the FBI.

On the morning of July 14, 2008, FBI Agent Killigrew created a cell tower range chart/map consisting of a street map, plotted Verizon Wireless cell site sectors belonging to cell site Nos. 268, 139, and 279, and a triangulated aircard location signature estimate represented by a shaded area. On the chart/map, the total land area collectively covered by cell site Nos. 268, 139, and 279 is approximately 105,789,264 ft2. FBI Agent Killigrew used triangulation techniques and location signature techniques to eliminate 93.9% of that 105,789,264 ft2 area resulting in the location estimate being reduced to 6,412,224 ft2 represented by the shaded area. The shaded area on the cell tower range chart covers the location of apartment No. 1122 at the Domicilio apartment complex.

On July 15, agents with the FBI, IRS and US Postal Service flew to San Jose to triangulate Rigmaiden’s location using the stingray. They worked with technical agents from the San Francisco FBI’s Wireless Intercept and Tracking Team to conduct the real-time tracking.

According to Rigmaiden, the agents drove around the cell site areas gathering information about signal range and radio frequencies for each cell site sector. “The radio frequency information was needed so that the FBI technical agents could properly configure their StingRay and KingFish for use in cell site emulator mode,” Rigmaiden writes. “By referencing a list of all the radio frequencies already in use, the FBI was able to choose an unused frequency for use by its emulated cellular network that would not interfere with the various FCC licensed cellular networks already operating in the noted area.”

The next day, Verizon Wireless surreptitiously reprogrammed Rigmaiden’s air card so that it would recognize the FBI’s stingray as a legitimate cell site and connect to it “prior to attempting connections with actual Verizon Wireless cell sites.” The FBI needed Verizon to reprogram the device because it otherwise was configured to reject rogue, unauthorized cell sites, Rigmaiden notes.

On July 16, the FBI placed 32 voice calls to the air card between 11am and 5pm. Each time the air card was notified that a call was coming in, it dropped its data connection and went into idle mode. At the same time, it sent real-time cell site location information to Verizon, which forwarded the information to the FBI’s DCS-3000 servers, part of the elaborate digital collection system the FBI operates for wiretapping and pen-registers and trap-and-traces. From the FBI’s servers, the location data was transmitted wirelessly through a VPN to the FBI’s technical agents “lurking in the streets of Santa Clara” with the StingRay.

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A stingray, made by Harris Corp. Image: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

At this point, the StingRay took over and began to broadcast its signal to force the air card — and any other wireless devices in the area — to connect to it, so that agents could zoom-in on Rigmaiden’s location.

“Because the defendant attempted to keep his aircard continuously connected to the Internet, the FBI only had a very short window of time to force the aircard to handoff its signal to the StingRay after each surreptitious voice call [and] the FBI needed to repeatedly call the aircard in order to repeatedly boot it offline over the six hours of surreptitious phone calls,” Rigmaiden writes. “Each few minute window of time that followed each denial-of-service attack (i.e., surreptitious phone call) was used by the FBI to move its StingRay, while in cell site emulator mode, to various positions until it was close enough to the aircard to force an Idle State Route Update (i.e., handoff).”

Rigmaiden maintains that once the connection was made, the StingRay wrote data to the air card to extend the connection and also began to “interrogate” the air card to get it to broadcast its location. The FBI used the Harris AmberJack antenna to deliver highly-directional precision signals to the device, and moved the StingRay around to various locations in order to triangulate the precise location of the air card inside the Domicilio Apartments complex.

According to Rigmaiden, agents also transmitted Reverse Power Control bits to his air card to get it to transmit its signals at “a higher power than it would have normally transmitted if it were accessing cellular service through an actual Verizon Wireless cell site.”

Once agents had tracked the device to the Domicilio Apartments complex, they switched out the StingRay for the handheld KingFish device to locate Rigmaiden’s apartment within the complex.

Around 1am on July 17, an FBI agent sent a text message to another FBI agent stating, “[w]e are down to an apt complex….” By 2:42 am, one of the FBI technical agents sent a text message to someone stating that they had “[f]ound the card” and that agents were “working on a plan for arrest.”

Agents still didn’t know who was in the apartment — since Rigmaiden had used an assumed identity to lease the unit — but they were able to stake out the apartment complex and engage in more traditional investigative techniques to gather more intelligence about who lived in unit 1122. On August 3, while the apartment was still under surveillance, Rigmaiden left the unit. Agents followed him a short distance until Rigmaiden caught on that he was being followed. After a brief foot chase, he was arrested.

Rigmaiden and the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation have argued that the government did not obtain a legitimate warrant to conduct the intrusive surveillance through the stingray. They say it’s indicative of how the government has used stingrays in other cases without proper disclosure to judges about how they work, and have asked the court to suppress evidence gathered through the use of the device.

U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell is expected to rule on the motion to suppress within a few weeks.

Source: Wired

Researchers Create 3Gbps LiFi Network with LED Bulbs

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Researchers at the Fraunhofer Henrich Hertz Institute (HHI) in Germany have successfully transmitted data at 3Gbps using conventional LED bulbs in a laboratory setting. In a real-world setting (at a trade fair), the same system was capable of 500Mbps.

The concept of visible light communications (VLC), or LiFi as it is sometimes known, has received a lot of attention in recent years, mostly due to the growing prevalence of LED lighting. Unlike incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, LEDs are solid-state electronics, meaning they can be controlled in much the same way as any other electronic component, and switched at a high speed. VLC is essentially WiFi — but using terahertz radiation (light) instead of microwaves (WiFi). Instead of oscillating a WiFi transmitter, VLC oscillates an LED bulb — and of course, on the receiving end there’s a photodetector instead of an antenna.

Now, unfortunately the Fraunhofer press release is almost completely devoid of detail, except for the 3Gbps bit — but we do have the technical specifications of Fraunhofer’s previous VLC system, which the 3Gbps system is based on. The previous VLC system was capable of transmitting up to 500Mbps over four meters (13 feet), or 120Mbps over 20 meters (67 feet). Rather than actually using a standard LED bulb, Fraunhofer’s VLC system is a black box, with an LED and photodetector on the front, and an Ethernet jack on the back to connect it to the rest of the network. In this system, the hardware only allowed for 30MHz of bandwidth to be used, limiting the total throughput.

To reach 3Gbps, the HHI researchers have found a way of squeezing 180MHz of bandwidth out of the LEDs — and instead of using just one LED, they now use three different colors. It is not clear whether this new technique has a higher or lower range than the previous, but it is likely the same. In real-world testing at a trade fair, with less-than-optimal atmospheric conditions, 3Gbps becomes 500Mbps — still pretty darn fast.

Visible light communication has a slew of advantages. In essence, LiFi can turn any LED lamp into a network connection. LiFi, by virtue of operating at such high frequencies (hundreds of terahertz), is well beyond the sticky tentacles of the wireless spectrum crunch and regulatory licensing. For the same reason, LiFi can be used in areas where there’s extensive RF noise (conventions, trade fairs), or where RF noise is generally prohibited (hospitals, airplanes). The Fraunhofer researchers even claim that VLC improves privacy, because your signal can be easily obscured from prying eyes with opaque materials — but as you can imagine, that’s also a tick in the “con” column as well.

Moving forward, we’re still waiting for the first commercial LiFi LED bulbs and LiFi-equipped laptops/smartphones to come to market. There are a few startups that are making headway, and numerous research groups, but no one seems to have a definitive roadmap for commercial products. With so many possible uses, from street lamp-to-car communications through to ultra-fast short-range communications, and the growing maturity of LED lighting, it’s really just a matter of time until LiFi becomes a reality.

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Source: Extreme Tech

BlackBerry ‘Nets’ Deal with Barclays Center

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The Brooklyn arena, home to the Nets, has struck a two-season marketing deal with the embattled smartphone maker, The Post has learned.

The deal is valued at $1 million to $5 million, according to an industry source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

BlackBerry and its new Z10 phone will get prominent ad placement throughout the arena — plus its own customer “experiential” area and a suite-level lounge, according to Mike Zavodsky, the Nets vice president of new corporate marketing.

BlackBerry is paying for “brand domination” at the arena, where people will see marketing for the smartphone maker from “street to seat,” he said.

The tech company has been on a marketing push of late to revive its market share in smartphones since losing ground to the likes of Apple and Samsung. The BlackBerry Z10 hit US stores last month.

BlackBerry has targeted other sports, like Formula 1 racing, with a reported $12 million deal announced in February. BlackBerry also markets heavily with the NHL.

BlackBerry paid $4 million for a Super Bowl ad this year.

The Barclays Center has similar deals with Calvin Klein and MetroPCS for branded “mini-neighborhoods” within the arena.

The deal with BlackBerry, which could be announced as soon as today, comes just as Alicia Keys is set to perform at the arena tomorrow. The singer is a “brand ambassador” for BlackBerry.

Source: NY Post