Nigerian email swindlers using more sophisticated hacks

It's not so much that the scammers themselves are becoming better at their jobs, just that off-the-shelf scripts are so much more powerful. [NYT]

NSA has "backdoor access" to iPhones

According to a leaked NSA document, the spy agency can snoop on personal iPhone communications such as SMS messages, location and cellular data. Though any device could be compromised likewise given the physical access required, the document demonstrates that the NSA a) is actually doing it, and b) is working on (and may also have successfully developed) remote hacks. Apple says it has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of its products and is unaware of the shenanigans. [Daily Dot]

Floating UP! house posts photos to Instagram via Raspberry Pi

Valentin Squirelo and friends at HackerLoop built a miniature model of the flying house from UP! outfitted with a Raspberry Pi computer and floated it above Paris where it posted live photos to Instagram. This was particularly interesting because generally photos can only be uploaded to Instagram via the official iOS or Android app. HackerLoop worked around that limitation. HackerLoop's #Upstagram

"Politicians aren't scientists"

You know how some media love "he said, she said" journalism? The kind in which any issue, no matter the facts or relative degrees of extremism, is narrated in perfect equilibrium between two opposed, yet indistinguishably-intractable sides. Doesn't that stuff suck? OK! Cool.

Moving on, Slate's Daniel Engber has an interesting article up today about how Democrats and Republicans all hate science just as much as one another: "Willful ignorance of science is a bipartisan value."

Grab YouTube thumbnails easily

YouTube makes available a set of different-sized thumbnails for every video through its API, but sometimes you just need to grab 'em and go. So I made a plain-jane widget to grab what's available, at-a-glance, for any given YT URL. Enjoy!

Hacks that never happened

Yesterday, GoDaddy went down, taking with it countless hosted sites. A hacker claimed credit, gaining the attention of the entire tech press. But his story was soon debunked: a DNS configuration mistake was the real cause. At Threat Level, Robert McMillan recounts the greatest hacks that never were.

Apple suspends over-the-phone password resets

Following the incredible social engineering hack suffered by Wired's Mat Honan over the weekend, Apple's shut down the exploit by "ordering support staff to immediately stop processing AppleID password changes requested over the phone."

How to turn old car parts into a video game controller

Jason Torchinsky of Jalopnik shows how to turn old car parts into a video game controller.

NewImage

The idea came to me while adjusting the mirrors in a car, and realizing that the little mirror-control joystick was better than many video game joysticks I used. I then had a waking dream of the grand possibilities of playing old videogames with control pads sourced from cars. The dream was a beautiful, fantastical vision of a world we could all achieve. I woke up hours later behind a CVS, and headed straight to a junkyard to make this dream real.

Super-sleuth readers may note that in the final project I used a seat control panel instead of a mirror controller. There's a reason for that. When I got the mirror control pads and joysticks home and tested them, I uncovered one of the auto industry's darkest secrets: the "up" and "left" directions on mirror controllers are THE SAME DAMN THING. They're wired together! Think of all the times you've thought you were adjusting your mirror up, not left, thinking you were hot shit? IT'S ALL BEEN A FILTHY LIE. So I soon learned to look elsewhere. Luckily, 70s-80s American cars provided the solution, since they're full of funny little chrome joysticks for seat controls and other various duties.

How to turn old car parts into a video game controller

Disability insurance

To avoid a return to work, an unemployed Austrian man apparently sawed his own foot off. [Reuters]

RIM kills PlayBook root hack; hacker roots it again

RIM's attempts to stop people rooting their PlayBooks are failing. But it will keep trying! Because sunk costs aren't just about money, you know!

Mandatory "agreement" for Playstation Network users waives your right to class actions over future hacks

The next time you log into your Sony Playstation Network account, the company is going to ask you to click through a EULA whereby you promise not to sue them in a class action if they get hacked again, even if they're negligent, and even if you get screwed over as a result. If you don't agree, no more PSN for you. (Thanks, @sickkid1972!)

Report: iTunes targeted in mystery hack

At Macworld, Lex Friedman looks at recent reports of hacked iTunes accounts, where hundreds of users say gift card credit was wiped out by purchases made without their permission. Apple is issuing refunds, but is otherwise mostly silent on the matter.

This is a mystery story, but it’s not a great one. A great mystery generally involves a detective who gathers the evidence, performs an investigation, and finally issues the spectacular reveal: the motive, the guilty party, and—if all goes well—the punishment. In the mystery of the Towson Hack, unfortunately, we’ve got a crime, evidence, and a motive, but no justice, and no real resolution. Consider yourself warned.

The Towson Hack: The mystery of vanishing iTunes credit

10-year old Girl Scout owns slow game

Many social games have measures to prevent cheating by mucking around with the date settings. But kids are too smart to be stopped that easily. PC Magazine's Sara Yin reports on a brilliant exploit discovered by CyFi, a 10 year-old Girl Scout who presented her findings at Defcon.

She began tinkering with the code after growing impatient with the game's slow place, and discovered that by disconnecting her phone from Wi-Fi and re-setting the clock forward in small increments, she could fast-forward many of the actions in the game, "a new class of vulnerabilities" she dubbed "TimeTraveler."

10-Year-Old Presents App Exploit at DefCon [PC Mag]