Hacked passport crashes readers

A hacker has demonstrated an exploit against the RFID tags in the new US passports that allows him to clone a passport and modify the RFID with bad code that will crash the passport readers.
Lukas Grunwald, an RFID expert who has served as an e-passport consultant to the German parliament, says the security flaws allow someone to seize and clone the fingerprint image stored on the biometric e-passport, and to create a specially coded chip that attacks e-passport readers that attempt to scan it.

Grunwald says he's succeeded in sabotaging two passport readers made by different vendors by cloning a passport chip, then modifying the JPEG2000 image file containing the passport photo. Reading the modified image crashed the readers, which suggests they could be vulnerable to a code-injection exploit that might, for example, reprogram a reader to approve expired or forged passports.

"If you're able to crash something you are most likely able to exploit it," says Grunwald, who's scheduled to discuss the vulnerabilities this weekend at the annual DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas.


Yet another Hollywood-created viral video site: MyDamnChannel

Ex-MTV and CBS Radio exec Rob Barnett created MyDamnChannel because he believes online audiences "want to see professionally produced shows other than network TV fare." Tell that to the cat poop auteurs and all those pugs on skateboards. Harry Shearer, David Wain, and Don Was are among the creative participants mentioned. Link to AP item, here's the company's press release. Laguna Beach-based Okapi Venture Capital is listed as a backer.

Ashton Kutcher's doing some kinda ARG thing?

I don't grok it yet, but it looks like Ashton Kutcher is doing some kind of alternate reality game. Perhaps he just loves bees. Here are some relevant urls: Link to www.401wtf.com, and video link. In related news: A VOIP startup just launched with Mr. Kutcher as celebrity endorser, presume this is unrelated to the ARG (or whatever that is): Link to ooma.com.

Johnny Ryan's Nick Magazine gags

Ryannick Turns out that Johnny Ryan -- creator of the amazingly absurd and fantastically offensive Angry Youth Comix that tosses political correctness right into a filthy toilet -- is also a contributor to Nickelodeon's Nick Magazine for kids. Nick is now uploading every one of Ryan's gag cartoons that appeared in the magazine. Belly laffs for the whole family!
Link (via Fantagraphics Flog!)

UPDATE: Brian Heater says, "Over at my indie comics blog, The Daily Cross Hatch, we put up the first part of an interview with Chris Duffy, the comics editor of Nickelodeon Magazine. The first part is mostly a bit of a tirade against DC, but in subsequent pieces, we discuss why someone in their right mind would pick people like Ryan, Kaz, and Ivan Brunetti to populate a kids’ magazine." Link

Weather station mistaken for bomb

A bomb-squad recently blew up a "suspicious looking box" mounted to a tree near the Lewis-Gale Medical Center in Roanoke, Virgina. Turned out that the "bomb" was actually an amateur weather station placed there by an employee of the Center. From the Roanoke Times:
An employee had placed a putty-like substance around the box to make it weather proof.

The investigation is concluded and no criminal charges will be filed.
Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)

Body of artist Jeremy Blake found

A body washed up on the shores of New Jersey has been identified as that of missing digital artist Jeremy Blake, presumed to have committed suicide after his companion Theresa Duncan took her life in the couple's New York City apartment. Link.

Previously on BoingBoing:

  • Artist Jeremy Blake missing, and his girlfriend has committed suicide
  • Update on Jeremy Blake, Theresa Duncan: body found + CoS claims
  • Drunk Astronaut Hall of Fame: Tintin's Capt. Haddock did it first.

    BoingBoing reader Ehsan writes in with a correction to this previous BoingBoing post:

    You guys made a mistake about naming Homer Simpson a pioneer of "drunk astronauts". Captain Haddock of the Tin Tin series was drunk and flying in space in 1954. Give him some credit! This link is to a scan of page 5 of the TinTin book "Explorers on the Moon" (1976), showing Haddock calling his flying whisky bubble back into his glass.


  • Are you a drunk astronaut?
  • Beer in space
  • Homer Simpson, Drunk Astronaut Pioneer

    Reader comment: Julian Bond says,

    Destination Moon was first published 1950-53. Well before 1976. So even more amazingly prescient. I suspect if you go back to Jules Verne and From the Earth to the Moon the protagonists took a fine sherry or perhaps some claret with them, but I guess that's not quite the same!
  • FCC wireless auction ruling: mixed bag for open access advocates

    A decision from The Federal Communications Commission today is seen as a partial win for Google and other entities that favor greater competition in the wireless voice and data market. Snip from NYT story:
    The agency voted to approve rules for an auction of broadcast spectrum that the F.C.C. chairman, Kevin J. Martin, had said would promote new consumer services. The F.C.C. rules will allow customers to use whatever phone and software they want on networks using about one-third of the spectrum to be auctioned.

    The F.C.C. did not approve a provision that would have required the winner of the auction to sell access to its network on a wholesale basis to other companies.

    In recent weeks Google and other technology interests pressed the commission to create an open-access wireless network – in contrast to today’s closed cellular networks – and to allow owners of the spectrum to sell portions of it wholesale to other companies. That would loosen the carriers’ grip on service offerings and might also open the door to new entrants like Google.

    In the model proposed by Google and new entrants to the market, consumers would be able to buy a wireless phone at a store, but instead of being forced to use a specific carrier, they would be free to pick any carrier. Moreover, instead of wireless carriers’ choosing what software goes on their phones, users would be free to put any software they want on them.

    Link to NYT story.

    "What this means is we won't likely have new companies enter the wireless market -- we'll be stuck with AT&T and Verizon," writes Farhad Manjoo of Salon.com. His blog post about the ruling is here.

    More analysis around the web: Ars Technica, Google's Public Policy Blog, Glenn Fleishman, O'Reilly Emerging Telephony, Public Knowledge.

    Previously on BoingBoing:

  • FCC to rule on wireless auction Tuesday; Google and telcos at odds
  • Rule the Web podcast canceled for today

    The Rule the Web live podcast for today is canceled. I'm going to try to do it next Wednesday. Stay tuned!

    James Fallows at electronics market in ShenZhen

    Picture 14-2 James Fallows narrates an Atlantic slideshow with photos from his trip to China, including a visit to a 7-story tall electronics bazaar with "thousands of little tiny vendors" selling every electronic gadget and component you could ever want. Link

    Odd fetish toy: Pussy Foot

    This the only SFW image of a fetish toy called the Pussy Foot. The photos on the site are not safe for work.
    Picture 12-3 Pussy Foot is the ultimate fantasy sex toy for foot fetishists. This size 6, 100% silicone foot is cast in pure silicone from a real life actual, beautiful female foot. In the sole of this lovely foot is a fully functional and totally f***-able silicone vagina.

    A surreal and supremely inane compendium of miscellaneous knowledge, Vol 6

    Picture 7-9 Everybody loves peanuts etched with business card information (except people allergic to nuts) (Via Candy Addict)
    Picture 8-11 Video -- MIT's undulating Hyposurface.
    Picture 9-8 Snarky comments about disgusting-looking retro food and fashion. (Thanks, Charlie!)
    200707311345 Meth-heads are stealing copper wire from California irrigations systems.
    Picture 10-6 Hilarious and weird video of Adult Treasure expo in Japan (NSFW)
    Picture 11-4 "Protest technology" - White noise projector

    Guns on robots

    The late underground cartoonist Vaughn Bode, who created a comic book universe about war-fighting machines, would have been interested in this military robot that's armed with a rifle and has been deployed in Iraq.
    200707311321SWORDS is designed to take on “high risk combat missions,” according to an Army statement. A specialist controlling the robot could send it into a potentially dangerous situation, such as a narrow street infested with snipers, seek targets and take them out before a foot patrol follows.
    Maybe the enemy could also use robots like this and we could just let the robots fight the war on our behalves. Link (Thanks, Ivan!)

    Reader comment:

    Pete says:

    Sounds fine to me...so long as it doesn't wind up being like that Star Trek episode in which the wars were simulated in computers, and then the projected casualties were enforced on real people.
    Ivan says:
    I don't have any web link to corroborate the story, but you might find it amusing anyway.

    In response to robots like the Talon and PackBot used to disarm road-side bombs, insurgents decided robotics couldn't be that hard. They strapped an artillery-shell bomb to a cart, and powered it with parts from a window-mounted air-conditioner. They aimed it at a bomb-disposal team, let it go, and without any navigation or sensing it promptly crashed into a ditch. As everyone at iRobot knows, making robots is hard!

    Cory W says:
    According to the Washington Post, Soldiers tend to get very attached to their robots.
    Sean says:
    Interesting and slightly creepy that SWORD was the name of the *fictional* autonomous weapon system that runs amok (in classic robot-rebellion fashion) in the Peter Weller movie "Screamers," based on Phillip Dick's "Second Variety." Life imitates art in a particularly ominous way.

    Beer in space

    Spurred by the recent news about drunk astronauts, New Scientist has a "short but frothy history" of alcohol in space. Along with mentions of Buzz Aldrin's taking of communion on the moon and cosmonauts hitting the sauce aboard Mir, the article looks at beer brewing, serving, drinking, and burping in space. From New Scientist:
    Graduate student Kirsten Sterrett at the University of Colorado in the US wrote a thesis on fermentation in space, with support from US beer behemoth Coors. She sent a miniature brewing kit into orbit aboard a space shuttle several years ago and produced a few sips of beer. She later sampled the space brew, but because of chemicals in and near it from her analysis, it didn't taste great by the time she tried it...

    Unfortunately for thirsty astronauts, beer is poorly suited to space consumption because of the gas it includes. Without gravity to draw liquids to the bottoms of their stomachs, leaving gases at the top, astronauts tend to produce wet burps.

    "That's one of the reasons why we don't have carbonated beverages on the space menu," NASA spokesperson William Jeffs told New Scientist.

    Previously on BB:
    • Are you a drunk astronaut? Link

    Rule the Web show: Richard Giles, CANCELED

     Static Avatars R Richard My guest on today's live call-in Rule the Web show (using the awesome BlogTalkRadio system) is Richard Giles, co-founder of Scouta, the online content recommendation system.

    To listen to the show, visit BlogTalkRadio at 4pm Pacific Time today a time and date to be announced. If you want to ask Richard or me a question during the show, call us at (646) 915-8698. Link

    Add to iTunes