Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wi-Fi 'protected set-up' not so protected after all

The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned this week of a security flaw in a popular tool intended to make it easier to add additional devices to a secure Wi-Fi network.
On Tuesday, the organization, known as US-CERT, cited findings from security researcher Stefan Viehbock, who uncovered the security hole in the so-called Wi-Fi Protected Set-up, or WPS, protocol, which is often bundled into Wi-Fi routers. The WPS protocol is designed to allow unskilled home users to set up secure networks using WPA encryption without much hassle. Users are then able to type in a shortened PIN instead of a long pass-phrase when adding a new device to the secure network.

That method, however, also makes it much easier for hackers to break into a secure Wi-Fi network, US-CERT says. The security threat could affect millions of consumers, since the WPS protocol is enabled on most Wi-Fi routers sold today.

"A few weeks ago I decided to take a look at the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) technology," Viehbock said in a blog post. "I noticed a few really bad design decisions which enable an efficient brute force attack, thus effectively breaking the security of pretty much all WPS-enabled Wi-Fi routers. As all of the more recent router models come with WPS enabled by default, this affects millions of devices worldwide."

The basic problem is that the security of the 8-digit PIN falls dramatically with more attempts to key in the password. When an attempt fails, the hacker can figure out if the first four digits of the code are correct. From there it can then narrow down the possibilities on the remaining digits until the code is cracked. Viehbock said a hacker can get into a secure Wi-Fi hotspot in about two-hours using this method to exploit a vulnerability.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

These .xxx domains are ready to hook up

If you always fancied your very own .xxx domain name, it's not too late: plenty of real estate in the Internet's official red light district remains unclaimed, CNET has learned. and are taken, but and are not. and are reserved, but,,, and could be yours for a mere $100 a year.

High-quality university names also remain unclaimed.,, and may be off-limits, but,, and aren't. (Playboy, which recently published a "Girls of the SEC" feature, take note.)

That's according to a new analysis by Elie Bursztein, a Stanford University researcher who found that of the 50,000 most popular Web sites in the world, only 24 percent have their .xxx counterpart registered.

"There's been a lot of news about people rushing to buy .xxx," Bursztein told CNET today. "But after the dust settled, it turns out that the data don't agree with the hype."

Early reports suggested that companies and schools were snapping up .xxx domains to prevent them from being used for pornographic purposes -- especially, perhaps the types of hardcore parodies the adult industry is known for.

Bursztein provided CNET with the raw data from his review of over 55,000 .xxx domains, which show that the triple-X counterparts of many popular Web sites, including, have not been reserved. We've placed some excerpts below (scroll down).

The list of news organizations that chose not to claim their corresponding .xxx domains includes:,,,,,,, and

That might be no surprise, but there are also plenty of popular adult sites that chose not to make the leap. Dot-com sites that rank among the Internet's most popular 5,000 destinations, according to Alexa, that have left their corresponding triple-X domains unclaimed include,, and Porn star Lexi Love has left unclaimed.

For more info go to this site and read it;topStories

Monday, December 26, 2011

Apple dominates Google's Zeitgeist 2011

Google's annual Zeitgeist roundup of the hottest trends in search from 2011 is out, and when it comes to tech, Apple dominates the list.

In Google's top 10 list of fastest-rising technology searches for the United States, the top six are all Apple-related, led by "iCloud," "Osx Lion" and "Ipad 2." "Steve Jobs" also makes the list at No. 8.

Google fared a little better on its own overall global top 10 list, with "Google+" snagging the No. 2 spot. In a major milestone in the history of collective global humiliation, the top search slot for 2011 goes to "Rebecca Black." Apple also occupies three places on the overall list, with "iPhone 5" at No. 6; "Steve Jobs" at No. 9; and "iPad 2" at No. 10.

Google's list of fastest-rising gadgets for the year is a little more representative of the overall market, with Kindle Fire grabbing the search gold in that category. The iPhone 4S was the second-fastest-rising term, and the iPad 2 fills the seventh place. "Sidekick 4g," "HP Touchpad," "HTC Inspire," "Palm Pre 3," and the "HTC Thunderbolt" are some of the other devices that people spent plenty of time coveting via Google in 2011.

It's important to note that these "fastest rising" terms are based on comparing year-over-year data and seeing which terms increased their buzz the most from 2010. So since the Kindle Fire didn't exist in 2010, it had a bit of an advantage over terms like "iPad 2," which was already in the lexicon even before the Fire came onto the scene.

Finally, in Google's top 10 list of cell phone searches--overall, not using the fastest-rising methodology--the query "iPhone" sits on a pretty tall throne above all others. But it isn't completely an Apple world. Serving as a reminder that we can't all afford a top-of-the-line smartphone is the No. 5 entry on the list--prepaid budget carrier "Tracfone."


Sunday, December 25, 2011

VW workers win off-hours BlackBerry block

To the horror or relief of workers everywhere, a major company has put the kibosh on after-hours e-mail, at least for some employees.

A Volkswagen union in Germany has struck an agreement with management under which the company's e-mail server will stop sending messages to VW-issued BlackBerrys a half hour after a worker's shift ends, the Financial Times reported this past week. The e-mail cessation will end a half hour before the employee's next shift. Workers can still make phone calls off hours.

The deal affects about 1,000 employees, the Financial Times reported. It's not a huge number and doesn't include senior managers or those outside certain pay brackets. But the idea of drawing any kind of line between work life and personal life flies in the face of a long-running trend.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Closer Look at the PlayStation Vita Gaming Handheld

The Vita, which Sony is hailing as the successor to the PlayStation Portable, is expected to surpass the company's previous gaming handhelds, offering improved graphics quality, speed, and sound. According to, it’s the most technologically advanced handheld to date, with a quad-core processor, an OLED multitouch screen, a rear touch panel, front- and rear-facing cameras, the Sixaxis motion-sensing system, Wi-Fi, and optional 3G connectivity.

The Vita will be released in Japan on December 17, and released in Europe and North America on February 22, 2012. The Vita is expected to cost $249 for a Wi-Fi version and $299 for a 3G model. You can buy it when it comes out in stores, or preorder online from Sony or via other retailers such as Gamestop.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Could HTC phones be banned from the U.S.? (FAQ)

The long-standing legal battle between Apple and HTC could make some real headway with the U.S. International Trade Commission set to issue a key ruling next week that could potentially ban HTC products from coming to the U.S.
For more than a year, the two companies have been tussling over the illegal use of each other's technology. The battle represents a microcosm of Apple's larger complaint against Google's Android operating system. As such, the ITC ruling could have serious ramifications on all of Google's Android partners, many of which are engaged with Apple in their own suits.
A ruling from the ITC was expected tomorrow, but has been pushed back to December 14.
With the various lawsuits flying around, it's easy to be overwhelmed. So here's a crash course on the HTC-Apple spat and what it means for you.
What can HTC do?
If HTC is found violating even one of the patents, it'll face the ban. But it doesn't take effect immediately. There is a 60-day presidential review period. HTC, meanwhile, likely has an appeal ready to be filed with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. That court would decide if the ban would go into effect, or be suspended during the appeals process.
Mueller added that depending on the severity of the ruling, HTC could still import phones and tablets that remove the offending features or find some alternative way of delivering that capability, known as a technical workaround.
"It's a safe guess that whatever the ruling is, HTC and Google will jointly claim they have a workaround in place," Mueller said. "What remains to be seen is what price they have to pay for it in terms of product quality and technical compatibility.
HTC, meanwhile, will continue to keep up its legal offensive against Apple. In September, the company filed another amended lawsuit in a district court and at the ITC with patents it acquired from Google.