Hackers be hacking: NordVPN servers compromised

NordVPN's a popular tool that many people turn to for keeping their shit private while the plumb the depths of the Interwebz. It's available to use with a number of different operating systems. While I'm not fond of what I found while writing about them a few years back (for the record, I rely on ProtonVPN for my online privacy needs) The service is good enough for a whole lot of people.

Or at least it was. Because it's been hacked.

From TechCrunch:

The admission comes following rumors that the company had been breached. It first emerged that NordVPN had an expired internal private key exposed, potentially allowing anyone to spin out their own servers imitating NordVPN.

...NordVPN told TechCrunch that one of its data centers was accessed in March 2018. “One of the data centers in Finland we are renting our servers from was accessed with no authorization,” said NordVPN spokesperson Laura Tyrell.

The attacker gained access to the server — which had been active for about a month — by exploiting an insecure remote management system left by the data center provider; NordVPN said it was unaware that such a system existed.

NordVPN did not name the data center provider.

So, that sucks.

According to TechCrunch, the infiltrated server didn't contain any user activity logs, which is nice. Additionally, NordVPN's spokesperson swears that there's no way that a motivated attacker could have intercepted usernames or passwords. This of course, is like saying that you shit the bed, but the pillows are fine. Read the rest

Super genius blows up backyard trying to kill critters

This is some serious Wile E. Coyote-level gopher management going on here. Read the rest

Chinese citizens will have to submit to a face scan in order to get a new phone number

So, this is fun: starting in December, Chinese citizens who want to snag a new phone number or sign up for internet service will have no choice but to allow their faces to get scanned. This new bag of Orwellian bullshit was announced at the end of September by the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. According to Gizmodo, the MIIT totally swears that the initiative is totally designed to “earnestly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of citizens in the cyberspace”.

Uh huh.

The Chinese government recently lost their shit over protestors in Hong Kong wearing masks to hide from the facial recognition tech that the police and other government agency use to monitor their citizens. They use surveillance tech to detect and creep on the nation's Uighur Muslims. In the case of the latter, those identified and confirmed as being part of the Uighur minority have ended up in reeducation camps. Given that this is the case, it seems unlikely that the nation's only motive for forcing you some to submit their face to get a phone number is to cut down in fraud.

When a nation's citizenry's every move is monitored and cataloged to use against them, the notion of democracy becomes one that is thought upon, but never dares to be heard. Read the rest

Weekend tunes: close to an hour with Shooglenifty and Dhun Dhora

Scotland's Shooglenifty was one of the first acts that I had the opportunity to interview for the music magazine I still occasionally write for, over two decades ago. That it was one of my first paying assignments, well before I'd finished J-school, and that I'd been a fan of the band for years has made the experience a fond memory. 10 albums in and the Shoogles are still on regular rotation in my home.

Recorded in 2018, Written in Water, was a collaboration between the band and Rajasthani musical geniuses Dhun Dhora. It's in turns a challenging and rewarding collection of tracks to listen to. The more I jog it through my ears, the more I like it. I'd like you to have the same opportunity.

This piece of concert was recorded last year off of Bellstone stage at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival. Read the rest

Utah Highway Patrol trooper swoops in to save unconscious man from being hit by a train

I was scrolling through Jalopnik earlier today when HOLY CRAP THERE'S A COP SAVING A DUDE FROM GETTING HIT BY A TRAIN!

From the Utah Department of Public Safety:

This morning, Trooper Ruben Correa pulled an unconscious driver from his vehicle seconds before it was struck by a train. Trooper Correa had been on a traffic stop close by before he responded to the area on a call of a car on the tracks. As he spoke to the media about this incident this morning, Trooper Correa said, "At that point, I actually wasn’t really thinking, I was just doing my job."

Image via PXhere

 

  Read the rest

There's a galaxy-sized security hole in Samsung's S10 smartphone

Let me break it to you as gently as possible: If you dot your tapping swiping and scrolling on a Samsung Galaxy S10, your handset's security is currently a joke. According to TechCrunch, an S10 user in the UK has reported that her handset's screen lock can easily be cleared by any old fingerprint you'd care to smoosh against the smartphone's display.

From TechCrunch:

The flaw was discovered after placing a $3.50 screen protector on the device, confirming earlier reports that adding one could introduce an air gap that interfered with the ultrasonic scanner. The company noted the issue in a statement, telling the press that it was, “aware of the case of S10’s malfunctioning fingerprint recognition and will soon issue a software patch.”

...Samsung has warned against the use of screen protectors previously, but the ability to fool the product with a cheap off the shelf mobile accessory clearly presents a major and unexpected security concern for Galaxy users.

A four buck piece of plastic can defeat the security on a $1,000 handset. What's not to love?

The fix that Samsung's quickly cooking up for this issue is no doubt keeping their software engineers busier than a cat trying to bury a turd in a marble floor. Until that fix drops, Android provides a number of other methods for keeping your digital goods locked away from the world. If'n you don't want your data hanging out for the world to peruse, you'd do well to switch over to using an alpha numeric code or pattern lock to keep your data safe. Read the rest

Video: sea critters chow down on the carcass of a young whale

Who doesn't love a free meal?

From Nautilus Live:

During the final dive of this year’s Nautilus expedition season, our team discovered a whale fall while exploring Davidson Seamount off central California’s coast with researchers from Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The skeletal remains of the whale lying on its back are estimated to be 4-5 meters long. The team is working to identify the species, but it is confirmed to be a baleen whale as indicated by baleen remaining along the whale’s jawbones. While evidence of whale falls have been observed to remain on the seafloor for several years, this appears to be a relatively recent fall with baleen, blubber, and some internal organs remaining. The site also exhibits an interesting mid-stage of ecological succession, as both large scavengers like eel pouts are still stripping the skeleton of blubber, and bone-eating Osedax worms are starting to consume lipids (fats) from the bones.

There's no getting past how rare a sight this must be—just listen to the excitement in the voices of the scientists who came across this whale fall for the first time. Read the rest

Review: Untitled Goose Game is a difficult delight

I downloaded Untitled Goose Game to my Nintendo Switch a few days ago. It's the most self-abusive fun that I've had (with a video game, I mean we're all friends here) since I owned an NES back in the day. If you're not familiar with the game's premise and don't care to watch the video, here's the short of it: You are a goose. You're kind of a dick (becasue goose). You fuck people's shit up. Constantly.

Or if you're me, you try to.

The controls of this game are simple. The laundry list of objectives the goose must fulfill before moving on to each new area are simple too. Completing said list to-do list? That's often more difficult. Some tasks are a breeze: scaring a kid so badly that he locks himself into a phone booth to get away from you was a piece of cake. Attempting to steal multiple items from the same person, collecting them at a single drop point? Kind of a pain. If the person you're stealing from sees you take their stuff, they'll give chase. The best policy is to drop whatever you had in your bill as soon as you're noticed: run too far towards your stash of swag and your hard-won loot will be found and returned from whence it came, forcing you to start all over again, often with your loot stashed in slightly more difficult locales than where you first snagged them from. I didn't expect a goose-related game to take careful planning or involve stealth. Read the rest

London Metropolitan Police Service bans Extinction Rebellion from entering the city

Folks have been protesting about our species' slow turning of the knife deeper into the belly of Mother Earth for a long time now. However, once it became evident that it was a killing wound we inflicted on the environment, leaving us well and truly fucked, the protests escalated in size and numbers. Quickly.

Kids have been walking out of class, taking to the streets by the thousands. The pillaging of the Amazon, which has been going on for decades, is suddenly on the agenda in a big way with the United Nations and popping up in news broadcasts around the world. The climate activist group Extinction Rebellion is all up in everyone's grills around the globe, too. Recently, members of the group took to the streets to block traffic and generally fuck shit up (in a good way!) in major cities around the globe. London was on their hit list and man, did they hit it: shutting down streets in the city's downtown core, primarily in Trafalgar Square. Flights out of Heathrow Airport were disrupted. Over an eight-day period, London's Metropolitan Police Service threw over 1,300 of the protesters in the clink. It seems that the MPS was so sick of filling out paperwork for the arrests that they opted to make it illegal for Extinction Rebelling to do their thing within the city's borders... which, when you think about it will likely result in more paperwork. But hey: I am but a simple writer.

From The Guardian:

The Metropolitan police issued a revised section 14 order on Monday night that said “any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’ ...

Read the rest

Toto's no good very bad encounter with gravity

Don't think his manager won't raise hell over their client working under these unsafe conditions. Read the rest

Florida Man is back and he's packing a sword

There are few things that you can rely upon these days: the love of your friends and family; that our leaders lie to us in the name of profit and, constant like the North Star, that Florida will always be the weird shit capitol of North America.

From Canoe.com:

Curtis Miller, 54, was arrested Monday on second-degree attempted murder charges stemming from a July 15 incident where he allegedly brandished a samurai sword to threaten a jogger during a fight over a wheelbarrow the victim claimed he found in a trash pile.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office released surveillance video which shows the suspect attacking the jogger, Todd Beavers, with a sword in Oakland Park, Fla., as he tried to pull the wheelbarrow away from him.

According to Canoe, Miller and Beavers both spotted the discarded wheelbarrow at the same time. Miller felt the cart should be his. So did Beaver. Miller didn't grab the cart. Beaver did. As you know, disagreements over trash found at the side of road can get out of hand pretty quickly. So, honestly, Beaver shouldn't have been surprised to find that, as he rolled the wheelbarrow home with him, Miller would give chase with a big frigging sword in hand. Beaver ran faster. Miller gave pursuit.

As the Broward County Sheriff’s Office mentioned, there's video of the incident. This would be it:

As you can see, Miller totally went all in attacking Beaver with a flurry of awkward slashes, because wheelbarrow. When it was pointed out to Miller that he was on camera, the swordsman buggered right off, giving Beaver the time to call the cops. Read the rest

David Harbour riffs on Joaquin Phoenix on Saturday Night Live

I currently live three hours away from a movie theater. A six-hour toot in our jeep just to watch Joker? Not going to happen. Happily, David Harbour and the cast of Saturday Night Live goofing on Joaquin Phoenix's turn in Joker feels like more than enough to give me the gist of the flick until it pops up on streaming services. Read the rest

Weekend Tunes: Mojo Nixon--You Can't Kill Me

So, a gaggle of doctors discovered that I had an 80% blockage in one of my arteries: the result of bad genetics and my former attempts to kill myself with food and booze. There's a stent in me now and, although my mind is still right fucked up with all of the medical goings on, I'm still here. They found the issue without my having to have a heart attack first. I dodged a bullet.

You can't kill me.

Image via Wikipedia Read the rest

Scientists discover the WORST cup of tea

Good news everyone! All of those products made using microplastics that you invested in will hang around even after you get rid of them: that's good value. Currently, they can be found fouling up the guts of any number of sensitive species, littering the deepest depths of the ocean, making it possible to enjoy your microplastics almost anywhere you roam. Now, scientists from McGill University in Montreal have discovered an amazing new vector for getting the particular plastics you paid for into your body, where they belong: tea.

From CNN:

Plastic tea bags are shedding billions of shards of microplastics into their water, according to a new study.

[Scientists] found that a single bag releases around 11.6 billion microplastic particles, and 3.1 billion even smaller nanoplastic particles, into the cup -- thousands of times higher than the amount of plastic previously found in other food and drink.

The health effects of drinking these particles are unknown, according to the researchers, who called for further study into the area.

I mean, we're already, on average, devouring five grams of plastic every week, so what's the big deal? A little more won't hurt ya.

Image via Wikipedia Read the rest

Seize your right to repair by learning a few basic skills

I've been repairing my phones and computers for years—I don't like being at the mercy of hardware vendors, especially when there's a sea of original and gray market replacement parts out there to be had. Upgrades? Same thing. While companies like Microsoft and Apple are making it almost impossible to tinker with the toys they make, it feels good to know that I can still at least install a fresh battery or increase the size of an old laptop's on board storage for hundreds less than it would cost me were I to take it into one of their repair centers. As I plopped a replacement battery into my 2012 11" MacBook Air earlier this week. I found my self feeling a lot of gratitude for the folks who talk me the fundamentals of puttering about with electronics. However, I know that not everyone has access to folks that can help them learn the skills they need in order to diagnose or correct a problem with their laptop, game console or other devices. This can make getting started with repairing you gear feel pretty intimidating.

You can get around this intimidation in a couple of ways. You can, if you're lucky enough to have one where you live visit a repair cafe or other similar business. They have the tools and instructions you'll need in order to learn how to do it yourself. And of course, there's the Interwebz. You'll find no end of videos that suggest how to tinker out a technical problem. Read the rest

Volkswagen is electrifying classic VW Beetles

Sure, tooling around in classic car is cool, but have you ever tried tooling around in a classic car with an engine that’s way less ecologically unsound than the one it originally rolled off the assembly line with? If you’re a Volkswagen Beetle owner, You’ll soon have the chance to give it a spin: Volkswagen’s come up with a standardized electric engine designed to power their classic Beetles down the highway.

From Volkswagen:

Volkswagen Group Components presents a holistic concept with its partner eClassics for the subsequent electrification of the historic Volkswagen Beetle. The conversion exclusively uses new parts they have mutually agreed on from the series production of Volkswagen Group Components. The electric drive, the 1-speed gearbox and the battery system are based on the new VW e-up!1. The conversion of the historic Beetle is being carried out by the specialist company eClassics.

…The components from Kassel and Brunswick work together in the e-Beetle as an electric drive that reaches performance peaks of 60°kW /82°PS. The battery system is built into the underbody and consists of up to 14 modules, each with a capacity of 2.6 kWh. The lithium-ion battery modules cumulatively deliver energy of up to 36.8 kWh. The higher performance and the increased weight due to the extent of electrification require the adaptation and reinforcement of the chassis and the brakes.

So, your Bug will be a little heavier, but the benefits of the conversion sound pretty sweet: Volkswagen claims the that a converted Beetle can accelerate from zero to 50 km/h in just under four seconds and up to 80 km/h in around eight seconds, with a top speed of 150 km/h. Read the rest

Werner Herzog: Chicken Expert

“The enormity of their flat brain; the enormity of their stupidity is just overwhelming. You have to do yourself a favor, when you’re out in the country: try to look a chicken in they eye, with great intensity and the intensity of stupidity that is looking back at you is just amazing”.

Look, I've got no reason for posting this video other than the fact that I would follow this weird, talented, delightfully menacing man right into the sun, if he asked me to.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of Raffi Asdourian Read the rest

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