AltSciFi’s Dystopian Daily: Social Engineering for Palestine, the Thrilling Touch of Artificial Skin, and a Hologram City Over China

Dystopian Daily

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+ Teen says he hacked CIA director’s AOL account.

In a series of phone conversations with The Post, the hacker described himself as an American high school student who is not Muslim and was motivated by opposition to US foreign policy and support for Palestine. The hacker said he used a tactic called “social engineering” that involved tricking workers at Verizon into providing Brennan’s personal information and duping AOL into resetting his password.

He claimed he has repeatedly prank-called America’s top spy since August, once reciting Brennan’s Social Security number to him. “He waited a tiny bit and hung up,” the hacker said. […]

Comment: See also, Teen Who Hacked CIA Director’s Email Tells How He Did It. “[I]t was like ‘Hey,…. its CWA.’ He was like ‘What do you want?’ We said ‘2 trillion dollars hahhaa, just joking,’” the hacker recounted to WIRED. Brennan, the hacker says, replied, “How much do you really want?” They told Brennan “We just want Palestine to be free and for you to stop killing innocent people.” […]

+ Artificial Skin Sends Touching Signals to Nerve Cells. Electronic skin responds to pressure changes and transmits signals via nerve cells, much as human skin does.

Zhenan Bao and coworkers made the artificial skin by connecting three components: microstructured resistive pressure sensors, flexible printed organic electronic circuits, and nerve cells containing light-activated ion channels. […]

+ The Drone Papers. The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into President Obama’s drone wars. […]

Comment: There’s never been a major leak of documents relating to the U.S. drone program. Until now.

+ An American Record in Space. Astronaut Scott Kelly is currently on the International Space Station, participating in a yearlong mission in orbit to test the effects of long-term microgravity on the human body.

By the time he comes back to Earth, scheduled for March 2016, he will pass 500 days in space. Amazingly, that’s not the longest duration anyone has spent in space. […]

+ How a criminal ring defeated the secure chip-and-PIN credit cards. Professor Ross Anderson: “The reason we started our research was that people came to us again and again claiming that their cards had been stolen and used in store transactions… banks swore they’d been negligent with their PINs, while the customers were certain they could not have been… once you meet a number of such victims who are credible witnesses, it makes you start to think.”

That suggests a concerning dynamic in the near future. If banks see the EMV standard as impervious to fraud, it will be difficult or impossible for the cardholder to get the bank to accept liability for legitimate hacks. […]

+ 01org / hyperscan. hyperscan: high performance multiple regex matching library for deep packet inspection. […]

+ Russia is Proving Why Nuclear-Tipped Cruise Missiles Are a Very Bad Idea. Had the target been the United States, military leaders would not have known until impact if it was a nuclear attack. This kind of uncertainty can increase the risk of nuclear war.

In 2007, six nuclear-armed cruise missiles were mistakenly loaded onto a B-52 bomber and flown across the United States. If this can happen under strict American guidelines, imagine what could happen from Russia to the Middle East. […]

+ Mysterious floating city appears in the sky over China. Conspiracy theorists who believe Nasa will one day simulate the second coming of Christ through holograms think the mirage is further proof of their theories. The mysterious apparition, which many believe to have been supernatural, seemed to form a perfect city skyline when it was spotted by residents.

While some people think they have seen a parallel universe, weather experts are saying the unusual sighting was down to an optical illusion known as a Fata Morgana – a type of mirage which distorts objects which are far away. […]

+ The first rule of zero-days is no one talks about zero-days (so we’ll explain). Ninety-seven percent of exploits observed in 2014 were based on just 10 CVEs — mostly old (early-2000s) vulnerabilities in SNMP and Windows. The remaining three percent of exploits stem from seven million other known vulnerabilities, with ages ranging from 2014 all the way back to 1999 (the year that CVEs were first introduced).

A particularly damning story about the perils of full disclosure: About 50 percent of exploits occur within a month of the vulnerability being made public. “There are very few researchers who are brave enough to come out and say it, but full disclosure is a farce,” Desautels told Ars. […]

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