hacking

Part 2: Q&A with Jeff Moss on computer hacking

Like many young hackers, Jeff Moss got his start copying computer games, learned how to program, and began to explore the world through a modem.

Unlike many young hackers, Moss has managed to turn his computer and social-networking skills into a business. He founded Defcon, the first major hacker conference and the largest in the world, as well as Black Hat, its more corporate counterpart. And now he is helping the U.S. government, as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Moss talked to CNET News during National Cyber Security Awareness Month about his digital coming-of-age and how … Read more

Why hack a calculator? Why climb Mount Everest?

So you're a programmer deciding where to invest your energy. What's a better idea: the latest Apple device, where hot new games can mean big bucks and millions of users, or a calculator introduced 10 years ago?

Most go for iPhones and iPods. But another community thrives in its own way. These are the folks who spend hours trying to elevate their Texas Instruments calculators to a level far surpassing their modest roots.

Among their achievements: adding new features, creating new operating systems, connecting the calculator to keyboards and other hardware, playing a video excerpt from "The Matrix," and even running Nintendo Game Boy video games. Not bad for calculators such as the $100 TI-83 Plus, introduced in 1999 with a Z80 processor running at 6MHz, 24KB of memory, 160KB of flash memory, and a 96x64 pixel display.

Why all this work for projects that realistically are not going to reshape the future of computing? Much of the motivation parallels mountaineer George Mallory's rationale for climbing Mount Everest: "Because it's there."

TI's graphing calculators are programmable, affordable, and widely used in schools--a lot more approachable than a Himalayan peak. That doesn't mean they're easy. The calculators must be programmed in assembly language--a slightly more human-readable version of the very basic machine code the calculators execute, but hardly something more easily read and debugged such as C or Java. … Read more

EFF: TI calculator hackers didn't violate DMCA

The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Tuesday rebutted legal assertions by Texas Instruments that enthusiasts who figured how to install their own operating systems on TI calculators violated the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

In a letter sent to the processor and calculator maker, Jennifer Granick, civil-liberties director at the EFF, argued that TI calculator enthusiasts Brandon Wilson, Tom Cross, and Duncan Smith didn't deserve letters TI sent them August 27 demanding that they remove various online posts about installing alternative operating systems. The three had taken down the posts but plan to restore them October 26, unless TI supplies evidence of a violation, Granick said.

In the posts, the three discussed use of reverse-engineered digital keys that made it simple to install alternative operating systems on the TI calculators. Wilson and Smith posted the actual keys that could be used to perform the installation.

But none of that violated the DMCA's anticircumvention provision, which states, "No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work" protected under the copyright act, Granick said. … Read more

Hacked Web mail accounts used to send spam

There has been a marked increase in the amount of spam e-mails being sent from Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail accounts, according to analysts at Websense Security Labs.

Websense said on Thursday that personalized spam e-mails had been sent from the compromised accounts to all of each user's contacts. The e-mails contain links to fake shopping sites, intended to capture sensitive information from the reader.

Earlier this week, Microsoft acknowledged that 30,000 Hotmail accounts had breached, and suggested the passwords for the accounts had been obtained in a phishing scam.

However, some security experts believe that the password breach … Read more

The 404 439: Where we make out with mic

It's only been about a week since the release of Sony's PSP Go, but hackers are already ahead of the game, despite Sony getting rid of the removable battery in an attempt to stop the siege. We don't have a link to the actual game you have to use to release the exploit, but hackers are using it as a proof-of-concept for future homebrews and pirated gaming. As usual, these guys are ahead of the curve, as we've seen before in Sony's previous PSPs. Of course, you can always get free games if you can somehow get a job reviewing them for a big Web site...right, Jeff?

In other news, Facebook can now measure what they're calling the GHP, or the Gross National Happiness. The popular social-networking site is using text analysis software to index how its users are feeling based on positive or negative words in their status updates. You can see on this chart that there were major spikes last year around November 23rd for Thanksgiving, as well as in December for Christmas and New Years. Check out the podcast to hear Jeff's reason why Hanukkah is nowhere to be found.

It's also time again for the Beck's Beer semi-weekly Audio Draft! Jeff's pick for today is an oldie but a goodie, The Rx Bandits! Jeff and I are huge fans of the bands from when we were wee lads. They're rooted in Seal Beach in Southern California, and while their ska sound grew popular in the early '90s, they have successfully pulled out those roots and progressed into a super eclectic alt/prog/rock/reggae sound. They just released another full length entitled Mandala, which also includes one of today's featured tracks, "Bury it Down Low." Here's to many more years with the Rx Bandits!

Oh yeah, everyone's password got hacked.

EPISODE 439 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

Hotmail passwords leaked online

Update October 6 at 11:25 a.m.: This was later discovered to be an industrywide problem that has affected users of Gmail and possibly other e-mail services as well. See more details here.

Thousands of Windows Live Hotmail passwords have been leaked online, Microsoft has confirmed. The news was first reported by Neowin.

According to Microsoft, it "learned that several thousand Windows Live Hotmail customers' credentials were exposed on a third-party site" at some point over the weekend. Neowin originally reported that the credentials were posted to a developer forum on Pastebin.com on October 1.

After … Read more

iPhone OS 3.1 kills tethering hack dead

When Apple released its highly anticipated iPhone OS 3.1 firmware update for the iPhone and iPod Touch, some users' worries were confirmed: the tethering hack we blogged about in June no longer works.

After upgrading, if you navigate on your iPhone to the Settings app, select General, then Network, you will see that the menu item for tethering has vanished.

Developers have not yet been able to find a way to downgrade or re-enable the tethering hack. If you or someone you know has had a different experience, we would like to hear about it in the comments.

Updated … Read more

Fully Equipped: Will PSP Go keep pirates at bay?

In recent days, a few blogs have picked up on the fact that the battery on Sony's upcoming PSP Go will be sealed into the unit and not be user-replaceable, just as it is on all of Apple's latest portable devices and plenty of other new gadgets. The integrated battery isn't new news. But what caught people's attention was an old quote from John Koller, Sony's director of hardware marketing, which PlayStation Insider recently ripped off from a June Ars Technica article that had Koller explaining that the move to a built-in battery was a … Read more

Will PSP Go keep pirates at bay?

In recent days, a few blogs have picked up on the fact that the battery on Sony's upcoming PSP Go will be sealed into the unit and not be user-replaceable, just as it is on all of Apple's latest portable devices and plenty of other new gadgets. The integrated battery isn't new news. But what caught people's attention was an old quote from John Koller, Sony's director of hardware marketing, which PlayStation Insider recently ripped off from a June Ars Technica article that had Koller explaining that the move to a built-in battery was a … Read more

Researchers who hack the Mac OS

It was summer 2005. Dino Dai Zovi walked into a Manhattan Starbucks, ordered a coffee, sat down, and opened up his laptop.

Before his coffee was cold he had found a local privilege escalation vulnerability in Mac OS X Tiger, which could allow people to elevate from normal user to full super user, and had written code that could exploit the hole.

"I just think that I got lucky, but that's what I always think when I find a bug that quickly," he said in an interview on Wednesday.

Dai Zovi has been exploiting Macs for a … Read more