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Staples investigating hack attack

Written By andika jamanta on Rabu, 22 Oktober 2014 | 23.58

21 October 2014 Last updated at 11:54

Office supply superstore Staples is investigating possible payment card data thefts, according to reports.

A blog report by security expert Brian Krebs has suggested that several of its stores in north-east America have been affected by a breach.

If correct, it would make Staples the latest in an increasingly long line of US retailers to have been targeted by hackers.

The US government has called for a swift move to chip-and-pin technology.

Stores are gradually making the move from using magnetic strip payment cards - the most common form of payment in the US - to the more secure chip-and-pin.

Many are now rushing through the changes following a series of high-profile breaches where hackers have put card-stealing malware on cash registers.

Staples, it seems, could be the latest victim.

Secure technologies

Mr Krebs, a US security expert who has written widely on retail data breaches, blogged that bank officials were investigating breaches at Staples stores in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

"Multiple banks say they have identified a pattern of credit and debit card fraud suggesting that several Staples Inc. office supply locations in north-eastern United States are currently dealing with a data breach," Mr Krebs wrote.

Staples said it was investigating the matter.

"Staples is in the process of investigating a potential issue involving credit card data and has contacted law enforcement," company spokesman Mark Cautela said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Sears Holdings said it had discovered that point-of-sale registers at its Kmart stores had been compromised by malicious software.

Fast-food chain Dairy Queen also reported that malware had been installed on cash registers in nearly 400 of its stores.

And, at the end of last year, Target suffered a massive data breach which affected up to 70 million customers.

It has led the US government to call for the widespread adoption of chip-and-pin technology.

"With over 100 million Americans falling victim to data breaches over the last year, and millions suffering from credit card fraud and identity crimes, there is a need to act and move our economy toward secure technologies that better secure transactions and safeguard sensitive data," the Obama administration said in a press release.


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Nasa shares free sounds from space

22 October 2014 Last updated at 13:23

Historical audio from Nasa missions has been uploaded to a free sound library.

More than 60 samples have been added to the agency's new dedicated Soundcloud account, but listeners are unable to leave comments underneath the files.

Astronaut communications, including "Houston, we've had a problem" and "the Eagle has landed", can be heard - as well as some more abstract noises made by working spacecraft and debris.

In space itself, sound is unable to travel as there is no air.

John "Jack" Swigert statue

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Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert's memorable words from the space mission

"You can hear the roar of a space shuttle launch or Neil Armstrong's "one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind" every time you get a phone call, if you make our sounds your ringtone," the space agency said.

"Or, you can hear the memorable words 'Houston, we've had a problem,' every time you make an error on your computer."

The sound library goes alongside Nasa's extensive picture library, which is also available free.

The space agency launched its account at the same time as Twitter enabled users to embed audio into tweets.


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Would you 'beg' to pay for Tinder?

tinder pic
Tinder users swipe left (like) or right (pass) depending on whether or not they like the look of another user

One Newsbeat listener told us that Tinder "is the finest app that the technological world has to offer".

But would you be willing to pay for it if it had added features?

The dating app's co-founder and CEO Sean Rad has told Forbes magazine: "We are adding features users have been begging us for.

"They will offer so much value we think users are willing to pay for them." Only thing is - he hasn't actually said what the changes will be.

Tinder is reportedly launching the paid-for "premium" service next month, without shutting down the original free app.

What's the point of the paid for version and why now?

Sean Rad, Justin Mateen and Jonathan Badeen
Sean Rad, Justin Mateen and Jonathan Badeen co-founded Tinder in 2012 in Los Angeles

The app doesn't currently include adverts or subscription fees, which has helped boost its popularity, with more than 15 million matches being made every day.

But the introduction of a premium feature is a sign of Tinder trying to monetise.

Mr Rad told Forbes that the app had to build a significant amount of users before asking for money.

"Revenue has always been on the road map," he said. "We had to get our product and growth right first."

According to Rad, users swipe through 1.2 billion profiles every day.

What do we get for our money?

Match.com website
Match.com is among the dating services charging users

Although no details were provided on the new features, including how much they will cost, it's thought they could include extended location settings that would allow people to go beyond the limits set by the free version of the app.

Tinder currently lets users see profiles of other people within a selected distance based on their preferences.

It isn't the first dating app to start charging users though.

Grindr, designed for gay, bi-sexual and curious males offers a premium service called Grindr Xtra.

Whereas free members can only view 100 profiles in their area, those using the paid version benefit from a push notification, even if the app is closed, which lets you see who's online, lets you view up to 300 profiles and removes banner ads which appear in the free version.

Also, sites like Match.com have been charging users for ages - so there's nothing new there.

Don't panic, there are still some free sites out there.

Someone else on the Newsbeat Facebook wrote: "(Tinder is a) Fun app to pass the time but definitely wouldn't pay for it."

But another post added: "It doesn't need extra features but I would pay for them nevertheless."

Though it's worth mentioning that the premium features won't be compulsory, there are alternatives if the Tinder price tag puts you off.

Meet Moi, which works in a similar way to Tinder with a chat screen launching when you find a match, and Badoo which includes a "yes/no" format are both free on iPhone and Android.

OkCupid and MeetMe are among the other free dating apps.

Follow @BBCNewsbeat on Twitter and Radio1Newsbeat on YouTube


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Man guilty of fake-girl webcam sex

21 October 2014 Last updated at 04:29 By Angus Crawford BBC News
close up of images of fake teen 'Sweetie' with 'terre des hommes' logo

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The charity said men from 71 countries had tried to solicit Sweetie

A man in Australia is believed to be the first to have been convicted as the result of an undercover sting in which charity workers posed online as a 10-year-old Filipina.

Details of 1,000 men who contacted the fake child, nicknamed Sweetie, were sent to police around the world

The men had requested Sweetie perform sex acts in front of a webcam for cash.

The names of 110 British men thought to be among those involved were sent to the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA).

It says it is actively pursuing the investigation, although no arrests have been made.

Scott Robert Hansen, who is a registered sex offender, pleaded guilty to three charges in Brisbane District Court.

He admitted sending obscene pictures of himself to Sweetie, having images of child sexual abuse on his computer and failing to comply with a sex offenders order.

He was sentenced to two years in prison, but is not expected to go to jail because of the eight months he has already been in detention.

He will be subject to a 12-month correction order and was ordered to undertake a sex offender treatment programme.

Chat logs

BBC News has obtained the chat logs of Hansen's conversations.

Hansen started by asking: "hi u really 9yo"

The operator replied: "Yes," to which he wrote: "wanna chat or cam with older?"

He went on: "I like asian chicks, are you... for action"

Continue reading the main story

Some of the men we interacted with literally give me nightmares"

End Quote Operator, Terre des Hommes

His comments became more explicit: "i'm naked, ever seen a guy naked?"

He then turned on his webcam and performed a sex act in front of what he believed was a nine-year-old girl.

Judge Ryrie, in sentencing said Hansen had "a protracted interest in targeting children in various ways".

The fact the girl was not real was irrelevant, she said. "If you believe that's a nine-year-old girl, then that's the law, that's good enough."

Internet patrols

This is thought to be the first conviction related to the Sweetie operation. It was created by a Dutch charity called Terre des Hommes.

Head of the programme Hans Guyt said he and his colleagues had always hoped the information would be used by police forces to mount their own operations.

"Law enforcement now know that the information we supplied can be very useful," he said.

Operator

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Undercover operator 'Some of the men give me nightmares'

He added that police had to be more proactive. "The only way to try and find these people is to patrol the internet," he said.

A team of four researchers worked on the project for 10 weeks in 2013. They posed in chat rooms as Philippine girls.

Sometimes they even used a computerised avatar, which they would show men via web cam.

Nightmares

BBC News has spoken exclusively to one operator, who asked to remain anonymous.

"Some of the men we interacted with literally give me nightmares," he said.

Regarding Scott Hansen, he commented: "He was very direct, at one point he asked us to get our fictional eight-year-old sister involved. It was very difficult to go to sleep at night after interacting with someone like Hansen."

The operator is proud of playing a part in Hansen's conviction, but wishes there had been more. "He was probably not the most serious, not even amongst the most serious," he said.

Over the period of the project tens of thousands of men contacted the team. The names of 1,000 were given to Interpol, which distributed the identities to 71 countries around the world.

This is the first reported conviction related to the project.

National Crime Agency

The NCA said a substantial amount of work needed to be done to identify the 110 men it had been notified about.

It said it was "actively pursuing" the investigation but could not offer further detail.

BBC News has seen the British files - much of the information would not be admissible in court.

Some of the men are untraceable. Others, though, would be easy to find, and their behaviour is very disturbing.

The NCA has confirmed it has not yet passed the information to individual forces.

This may prove controversial following the NCA's previous admission that it had failed to pass on information from Canadian police in 2012.

The details of more than 2,000 British men who had been buying child abuse images from an online video store in Canada was passed to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) centre in July 2012.

Ceop judged the men low risk and did not inform local forces until November 2013, when it became part of the National Crime Agency.

Several of those men, including Cambridge paediatric cancer specialist Dr Myles Bradbury, have since been convicted of child abuse offences.

The head of the NCA, Keith Bristow, has apologised for the delay in passing on information

He has also referred the handling of the information to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Today the NCA said it received "1,600 referrals relating to potential child abuse every month", adding that it gave "top priority to those cases where an immediate or high risk to a child is identified".


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China denies backing iCloud hack

21 October 2014 Last updated at 11:34

The Chinese government has denied reports that it was involved in an attempt to steal user data from iCloud accounts within the country.

According to campaign website greatfire.org the service was subjected to a "man in the middle" (MITM) attack.

It took the form of a false website placed between the genuine log-in page and iCloud's servers.

Greatfire said it resembled other government-backed attacks but a spokesman denied any involvement.

"This is clearly a malicious attack on Apple in an effort to gain access to usernames and passwords and consequently all data stored on iCloud such as iMessages, photos, contacts, etc," said Greatfire in its report.

"If users ignored the security warning and clicked through to the Apple site and entered their username and password, this information has now been compromised by the Chinese authorities."

The attack coincided with the launch of Apple's iPhone 6 handset in the country last week.

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry, told journalists the government was "resolutely opposed" to hacking.

China Telecom, the country's state-owned internet provider, also said the accusation was "untrue and unfounded".

However, two security experts claim the allegations of government involvement are credible.

"Generally one has to be slightly careful about attributing these attacks - however, in this case, it does seem to have come from deep within in China's domestic network.

"The finger is definitely pointing in that direction," Prof Alan Woodward, a security researcher from the University of Surrey, told the BBC.

"It appears to have been a fairly classic MITM attack. [The Chinese government] has a reputation for hoovering up any data they can get but the big question is, what were they interested in?"

"All the evidence I've seen would support that this is a real attack," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure.

"The Chinese government is directly attacking Chinese users of Apple's products."


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Yahoo profits surge on Alibaba sale

21 October 2014 Last updated at 21:43

Technology giant Yahoo has reported profits of $6.8bn (£4.2bn) for the three months to September, buoyed by earnings from the firm's stake in Alibaba.

Yahoo was required to sell part of its stake ahead of the Chinese firm's stock market floatation, netting it $6.3bn.

That made up for a continuing fall in advertising sales at Yahoo.

The search company has struggled to maintain market share against rivals like Google.

Revenue from ads decreased by 5%.

But overall revenues increase by 1% to $1.15bn from the same period a year earlier, and despite the lion's share of its earnings coming from Alibaba, Yahoo's numbers were better than expected, cheering investors.

Shares in the technology giant rose over 2% in after-hours trading, following the close of the US markets.

Mobile boost

In a statement accompanying the earnings release, Yahoo's chief executive Marissa Mayer touted the firm's investments in its mobile offerings.

"We have invested deeply in mobile and we are seeing those investments pay off," she said.

"Not only are our mobile products attracting praise and engagement from users and industry awards, they are generating meaningful revenue for Yahoo."

Yahoo said revenue from its mobile products was over $200m for the quarter, and estimated that mobile revenues could top $1.2bn by the end of the year.

Ms Mayer has been under pressure from investors and analysts to demonstrate that Yahoo can continue to grow now that it no longer has a significant stake in Alibaba, which had been providing a steady stream of revenue to the company.


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Audi claims self-drive speed record

21 October 2014 Last updated at 13:29 By Leo Kelion Technology desk editor
Audi RS7

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WATCH: The RS7 took a little over two minutes to complete a lap (video filmed by Audi and edited by BBC)

Audi has claimed a speed record for a self-driving car.

The German car giant says its RS7 vehicle topped 149mph (240km/h) while driving uncrewed round the Hockenheim racing circuit, south of Frankfurt.

The car took just over two minutes to complete a lap of the Grand Prix track.

Sunday's stunt was organised to highlight the firm's efforts to bring "piloted driving" to road vehicles. But one expert cautioned that several hurdles still needed to be overcome.

Audi - a division of Volkswagen - also put a human behind the wheel of the vehicle for a comparison lap. He took five seconds longer to complete the circuit.

A member of the car company's research team explained that it believed the innovation could ultimately be used by the public.

"I know accident-free driving will remain a vision. But at least we can reduce the number of accidents in the future," said Dr Horst Glaser.

"Piloted driving defuses situations like, for example, being in a traffic jam. Whenever the driver is distracted and inattentive the car could take over.

"Additionally the driver has a chance to relax. That means they are on full alert as soon as their attention is required again."

The RS7 used a combination of cameras, laser scanners, GPS location data, radio transmissions and radar sensors to guide itself around the track, with the data processed by computing equipment that filled its boot.

The experiment marked a high point after 15 years of research by the firm in the US and Europe.

However, one industry-watcher noted that a speed test on an otherwise empty racetrack was very different to the day-to-day driving conditions such vehicles would one day experience.

"I think we will see driverless cars on our roads within a decade, but there's clearly still a lot of work to do," said Prof David Bailey from Aston Business School.

"You need to make sure they interact with other driverless cars as well as those piloted by humans - you've got to make sure the software absolutely works."

He added that the insurance industry also needed to grapple with the concept.

"One of the big issues is what happens if there is an accident," he explained.

"Who is responsible? Is it the driver even if they are not driving? Is it the car company? Is it the software company? There are a whole load of legal issues to sort out.

"But there could be big savings for the economy in terms of far fewer accidents and more efficient travel."

Audi is far from alone in this field research.

Another German manufacturer, Mercedes, showed off a rival computer-controlled version of its S-class car recently.

Other car companies including Daimler, Volvo, Toyota, Tesla and BMW are also experimenting with artificial intelligence-directed vehicles, as are other tech firms including Google, Panasonic and Autolive.


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Students build Oculus Moon robot

21 October 2014 Last updated at 15:26 By Jane Wakefield Technology reporter

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a robot which they plan to land on the Moon to act as eyes for Earth-bound space enthusiasts.

The project is part of a $30m prize from Google offered to a team that can send video back from the moon.

The robot has already been shown to potential investors, including Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart.

It works in tandem with an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

The scientists from Carnegie Mellon have teamed up with space firm Astrobotic to compete for the Google Lunar XPrize, which requires a team to land a robot on the Moon, move it 500m and send back video to Earth.

Astrobotic Technology, which is a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon, has signed a deal with SpaceX - the private space company set up by Elon Musk - to use its Falcon 9 rocket to launch the robot. It is due to take off in 2016.

Non-stop hackathon

"The vision was simple - let anyone on Earth experience the Moon live through the eyes of a robot," explained team leader Daniel Shafrir.

"We weren't just going to go to the Moon. We are going to bring the Moon back," he added.

The telepresence robot, nicknamed Andy after university founder Andrew Carnegie, can be controlled by an operator's head.

Using an Oculus Rift headset, the movements of the user's head are tracked and sent back to Andy's camera so that it will match where the user is looking.

"Imagine the feeling of looking out and seeing rocks and craters billions of years old. Turn your head to the right and you see the dark expanse of space. Turn your head to the left and you see home, Earth," said Mr Shafrir.

To achieve this required complex coding. The team also encountered smaller problems such as the fact that the Oculus software was unable to receive two live video streams at the same time.

"Tackling challenges like that made the project a non-stop, day and night hackathon," explained Mr Shafrir.

Working with games designer Ben Boesel and planetarium director Dan Arnett, the team put Andy through his paces in a demo earlier this month.

The vision is to have "hundreds of the robots on the Moon", said Mr Shafrir.

"With an Oculus headset in every classroom, allowing kids to experience what, to this date, has only been experienced by 12 human beings," he added.

There are currently 18 teams from around the world competing to win the Google-sponsored Lunar X-Prize.


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Concern raised over UK use of drones

22 October 2014 Last updated at 02:03

The use of drones in the UK will rise over the next 20 years, raising "significant safety, security, and privacy concerns", a report has said.

The University of Birmingham Policy Commission Report raised the prospect that the aircraft could be used by terror groups to attack public events.

However, it also acknowledged greater use could bring "significant benefits" to the UK's security and economy.

It called for "urgent" measures to safeguard British airspace and privacy.

The research into Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) was led by Sir David Omand, a former head of the UK's intelligence centre, GCHQ.

'Malign purposes'

It stated: "The security threat posed by individuals misusing RPA is a serious one, whether for criminal or terrorist purposes... more thought needs to be given to their employment for malign purposes in the domestic environment."

It went on: "Vulnerable targets might be hardened to withstand attack from outside, but it is entirely possible that in a public space like a shopping centre or sporting stadium, an attack could be launched from within.

"Crowds at sporting events or rallies could be vulnerable in a similar way if a future terrorist group were to look for means of dispersing chemical or biological agents.

"While such a scenario has so far not posed a real danger to UK citizens... it is a threat that the UK authorities took seriously during the 2012 Olympics."

Drones are also "ideal lookouts for burglars, train robbers and poachers", the Security Impact of Drones report said.

And it said lightweight, commercial RPAs could become the "weapon of choice" for paparazzi in search of photographs of celebrities.

Police in Merseyside, Staffordshire, Essex, Wiltshire and the West Midlands have acquired or used drones for surveillance, and guidelines must be looked at governing how and when they can be used, it said.

The commission called for "urgent" measures to safeguard British airspace and the privacy of citizens to cope with civil and commercial use, which it expected to be more widespread by 2035.

Currently, drones of under 20kg can be used within line of sight of the operator and with permission of the Civil Aviation Authority.

Enforcing breaches is likely to become a major policy issue, the report said, adding some drones were often being flown in breach of rules.

'Innovative technology'

On Monday, a 41-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of breaching an air navigation order when a drone was flown over Manchester City's home game with Tottenham Hotspur.

Greater Manchester Police said the drone could have posed a threat to crowd safety and could potentially have caused alarm to fans.

Elsewhere, the Ministry of Defence recently confirmed the UK would fly unmanned drones over Syria to gather intelligence on Islamic State militants.

Rivet Joint spy planes will also be authorised for surveillance missions in the region, the MoD said.

Commission chairman Sir David said the decision was welcome provided the technology was used "in accordance with international law".

"This commission has highlighted the need for more work on the policies for such applications, and we hope that our findings will help clarify the issues that will need more attention, as well as providing a vision for how the UK can exploit this innovative technology," he said.


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Microsoft to phase out Nokia name

22 October 2014 Last updated at 13:44

Microsoft is ditching the Nokia brand name from new devices, less than a year after acquiring the Finnish mobile firm.

New Nokia Lumia smartphones will instead by known as Microsoft Lumia, the company said.

Nokia's non-mobile division, which is not owned by Microsoft, will continue to use the name.

The mobile operation was bought by Microsoft in April in a deal worth $7.2bn (£4.6bn).

Since then, Microsoft has quietly shifted away from the Nokia brand.

A post on Nokia France's Facebook page confirmed the branding shift. The renaming will roll out globally in due course, Microsoft has said.

The announcement comes despite Microsoft agreeing to a 10-year deal to use the Nokia name on mobile products.

Microsoft is currently having a big shake-up. In July, chief executive Satya Nadella announced the cutting of 18,000 jobs.

The bulk of the cuts, around 12,500, will be from staff taken on after the Nokia acquisition.


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