This Hacker Life!

We are, or more accurately, are compelled to becoming tach savvy to the point where we are becoming regular hackers. No, I do not mean hacking small everyday DIY stuff, like they teach at Lifehacker. I mean to hack into your gadgets to make it do things it wasn’t originally meant to, to build smart gadgets & robots with a $25 ARM Linux box computer, to use virtual currency that’s decentralized and encrypted, to go on networks that provide anonymous, untraceable exploration and communication – and the sorts.

Jailbreaking, rooting and hacking your devices has become so commonplace that often the choice of hardware depends on the ease of figuratively prying it open and gaining capabilities that are beyond the ‘official’ technical specs or above the approved apps list, be it your smartphone, your game console, your set-top box or even all combinations thereof.

The ubiquitous and ingenious Raspberry Pi is making its way into our lives in the forms of DIY projects, Kickstarter initiatives and children’s essential learning tools. And it is not just limited to scientists, programmers, instructors and geeks, but a slew of enthusiasts are using the Pi to fabricate everything from smart toys to supercomputers and cloud infrastructure. Continue reading →

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Pirates and their Servers in the Sky

The Pirate Bay, the hugely popular BitTorrent tracker site based out of Sweden (effectively, the world’s largest file sharing site), is planning to “send out some small drones”  to float servers “some kilometers up in the air”, in an attempt to avoid jurisdiction over copyright infringement and to evade law enforcement on land.

Their idea involves sending unmanned Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) into airspace miles above ground, aided by the growing availability of cheap radio equipment and tiny computers. These floating servers will be connected to via radio transmitters at potential speeds of (according to The Pirate Bay) 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. Moreover, for law enforcers planning to crackdown, the servers “will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war.”

As a Business Insider article points out, the well-hidden servers,whose locations are known only to the site’s administrators, may end up violating air traffic rules and be easily brought down by the militaries’ own Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the technical name for ‘drones’. The premature/ unrealistic plans are, nonetheless, an indication of the direction the technology of cyber piracy is taking. Soon, as The Pirate Bay puts it, “when time comes we will host in all parts of the galaxy, being true to our slogan of being the galaxy’s most resilient system.”

Remember, Remember, The 5th of November

Hacktivist group Anonymous has claimed that on November 5th, 2011, Facebook will be “destroyed”!

An Anonymous Twitter account, @OP_Facebook (signifying “Operation Facebook”), has been set up with a tweet linking to this YouTube video. The transcript is available here. (Note: November 5th is a somewhat significant date for revolution)

Anonymous has recently claimed involvement in a number of notable hacking attacks this year, including breaking into numerous law enforcement websites and taking down the Syrian Ministry of Defense website. According to them, Anonymous has taken this recent interest in Facebook due to privacy concerns and its plans to create its own social network, called AnonPlus.

Continue reading →

And The Hackers Get Younger by the (Zero) Day

A 10-year-old girl, who goes by the pseudonym – “CyFi”, has found that games apps on smartphones or tablets running on iOS or Android mobile platforms can be hacked into by tinkering with the device’s clock settings, which exposes an exploitable security loophole, or a “zero-day flaw”.

The girl displayed her hacking skills at the first annual DefCon Kids hacker conference – a subset of DefCon Hackers Conference in Las Vegas, the self-identified “world’s longest running and largest underground hacking conference”. Her presentation was titled “Apps — A Traveler of Both Time and Space; And What I Learned About Zero-Days and Responsible Disclosure”.

Continue reading →