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US Issues Emergency Ban On Flying With Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Offenders May Face Criminal Prosecution ( 103

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone will be banned from aircraft in the United States starting at noon EDT (1600 GMT) under an emergency order, regulators said on Friday. Among other penalties, those who attempt to circumvent the ban could be subjected to criminal prosecutions, the regulators added. Quartz reports: On Friday (Oct. 14), US Department of Transportation announced that passengers would no longer be able to bring the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 onto any flight in the United States. There have been nearly 100 reported cases of the phones catching on fire and spewing noxious black smoke, an undesired situation in an airplane's enclosed cabin. "Individuals who own or possess a Samsung Galaxy Note7 device may not transport the device on their person, in carry-on baggage, or in checked baggage on flights to, from, or within the United States," the US DOT statement said. Any travelers who violate the ban could be subject to criminal prosecution and fines. Samsung is expected to see a $5.3 billion loss in profits from the entire fiasco, mainly the cost of recalling, stopping production, and destroying phones.Samsung said it will send a text message to all Note 7 users to let them know about this ban.

DHS Warns of Mirai Botnet Threat To Cellular Modems ( 21

chicksdaddy writes from a report via The Security Ledger: The Mirai malware that is behind massive denial of service attacks involving hundreds of thousands of "Internet of Things" devices may also affect cellular modems that connect those devices to the internet, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning. An alert issued by DHS's Industrial Control System CERT on Wednesday warned that cellular gateways manufactured by Sierra Wireless are vulnerable to compromise by the Mirai malware. While the routers are not actively being targeted by the malware, "unchanged default factory credentials, which are publicly available, could allow the devices to be compromised," ICS-CERT warned. The alert comes after a number of reports identified devices infected with the Mirai malware as the source of massive denial of service attacks against media websites like Krebs on Security and the French hosting company OVH. The attacks emanated from a global network of hundreds of thousands of infected IP-enabled closed circuit video cameras, digital video recorders (DVRs), network video recorders (NVRs) and other devices. Analysis by the firm Imperva found that Mirai is purpose-built to infect Internet of Things devices and enlist them in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The malware searches broadly for insecure or weakly secured IoT devices that can be remotely accessed and broken into with easily guessed (factory default) usernames and passwords. The report adds: "Sierra said in an alert that the company has 'confirmed reports of the 'Mirai' malware infecting AirLink gateways that are using the default ACEmanager password and are reachable from the public internet.' Sierra Wireless LS300, GX400, GX/ES440, GX/ES450, and RV50 were identified in the bulletin as vulnerable to compromise by Mirai. Furthermore, devices attached to he gateway's local area network may also be vulnerable to infection by the Mirai malware, ICS-CERT warned. Sierra Wireless asked affected users to reboot their gateway. Mirai is memory resident malware, meaning that is erased upon reboot. Furthermore, administrators were advised to change the password to the management interface by logging in locally, or remotely to a vulnerable device."

President Obama Orders Government To Plan For 'Space Weather' ( 169

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: President Barack Obama today issued an Executive Order that defines what the nation's response should be to a catastrophic space weather event that takes out large portions of the electrical power grid, resulting in cascading failures that would affect key services such as water supply, healthcare, and transportation. The Executive Order ideally will coordinate the responses across government agencies such as NASA, the Departments of Homeland Security, Energy and others to help minimize economic loss and save lives by enhancing national security, identifying successful mitigation technologies, and ordering the creation of nationwide response and recovery plans and procedures, the White House stated. Further, the Executive Order will enhance the scientific and technical capabilities of the United States, including improved prediction of space-weather events and their effects on infrastructure systems and services. By this action, the Federal Government will lead by example and help motivate State and local governments, and other nations, to create communities that are more resilient to the hazards of space weather. The Executive Order reinforces the formal National Space Weather Strategy and accompanying Action Plan which were announced last year. It also bolsters other work such as the replacement of aging satellites that monitor and help forecast space weather, proposing space-weather standards for both the national and international air space, development of regulations to ensure the continued operation of the electric grid during an extreme space weather event, proposing a new option for replacing crucial Extra High Voltage (EHV) transformers damaged by space weather, and developing domestic production sources for EHV transformers, the White House wrote.

Samsung Will Credit You $100 If You Exchange Your Note 7 For Another Samsung Phone ( 123

In an effort to presumably stop customers from jumping ship to the iPhone 7 or other non-Samsung device, Samsung is offering up to $100 in credit to every customer who exchanges their Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone. Mashable reports: The company said so in its updated Note 7 recall page which plainly states that the recall has now been expanded to "all Galaxy Note 7 devices," and asks consumers with a Note 7 to power it down and return it to the place of purchase. Bear in mind that the new offer, which goes live on Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. ET, is only for U.S. customers, as users in other parts of the world have different recall programs in place. Furthermore, if you've already exchanged your Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, you "will receive up to a $75 bill credit from select carrier or retail outlets in addition to the $25 you previously received." Even if you exchange your Note 7 for another brand or ask for a refund, you will still receive a $25 bill credit from select carriers and retailers -- again, less any incentive credits you've already received. "As a sign of our appreciation for your patience and loyalty, we are offering up to a $100 bill credit from select carrier or retail outlets if you exchange your Galaxy Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, less any incentive credits already received," Samsung wrote.

HP Plans To Cut Up To 4,000 Jobs Over Next 3 Years Amid PC Slump ( 116

Yesterday, it was reported that the PC industry is on a two-year downslide as PC shipments have declined for eight consecution quarters. Today, HP announced it will cut between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs over the next three years due to the PC slump. Bloomberg reports: The company will eliminate positions across the board, Chief Executive Officer Dion Weisler said on Thursday. The comments came as HP held its analyst meeting in New York. The reductions could include 1,000 jobs being outsourced if the number of positions edges close to 4,000, Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak said. Weisler is searching for additional ways to drive profitability after his PC company gained independence last year from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which sells corporate tech gear. Earlier this year, Weisler said HP would need to accelerate a plan announced in 2015 to eliminate about 3,000 positions over three years. Instead, those reductions are to be completed this fiscal year. HP has about 50,000 employees now. HP said the newest job cuts will generate cost savings of about $200 million to $300 million annually starting in fiscal 2020. The Palo Alto, California-based computer maker expects to take $350 million to $500 million in charges in connection with the plan, and of that tool about $200 million will be labor costs, according to a regulatory filing.

Android Devices That Contain Foxconn Firmware May Have a Secret Backdoor ( 95

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: Some Android devices that contain firmware created by Foxconn may be vulnerable via a debugging feature left inside the bootloader, which acts as a backdoor and bypasses authentication procedures for any intruder with USB access to a vulnerable phone. By sending the "reboot-ftm" command to Android devices that contain Foxconn firmware, an attacker would authenticate via USB, and boot the device, running as root with SELinux disabled. There isn't a list of affected devices available yet, but Jon Sawyer, the researchers that discovered this hidden command, provides instructions on how to detect if a phone is affected. "Due to the ability to get a root shell on a password protected or encrypted device, Pork Explosion would be of value for forensic data extraction, brute forcing encryption keys, or unlocking the boot loader of a device without resetting user data. Phone vendors were unaware this backdoor has been placed into their products," Sawyer says.

Evernote Confirms a Serious Bug Caused Data Loss For Some Mac Users ( 31

Evernote has sent an email to users warning of a serious bug "in some versions of Evernote for Mac that can cause images and other attachments to be deleted from a note under specific conditions." The company claims only "a small number of people" are affected, but those who have received the email will need to update their Mac app as soon as possible. The glitch occurs in the September version of the software, and less frequently in the versions released since June. TechCrunch reports: In these applications, certain sequences of events can cause an image or other attachments to be deleted from notes without warning, but text is not affected. For example, the bug can be triggered by skimming quickly through a large number of notes, Evernote says. The email explains that once the company identified the problem, it worked quickly to implement a solution and attempted to restore all lost data. The issue was under discussion in Evernote's forums earlier this month. For heavy Evernote users, the bug could have a major impact. One user in the forums posted that they had 20,000 notes in their Evernote account, as part of their PhD research. Hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of their notes may have now become corrupted, according to their post. Unfortunately for some affected users, data recovery was not possible through automated means, the company's email stated. Instead, Evernote is advising those users who are missing attachments to use Evernote's note history feature in Evernote Premium to try to recover the missing data.
Portables (Apple)

Apple MacBook Refresh Could Bring E-Ink Enabled Keyboard ( 159

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Apparently Apple has been working on some unique upgrades to its MacBook line, and not just underneath the hood. One of the bigger feature upgrades could actually be in the keyboard. As previously rumored, the new MacBook Pro is likely to sport a secondary touchscreen display at the top of the keyboard. It will sit in place of where the Function keys used to reside and display different graphics and icons, depending on the program that's up and running. However, according to an anonymous reddit user named "Foxconninsider," Apple's also planning to launch a new version of its Magic Keyboard -- one that takes advantage of E-Ink technology. Similar technology was developed by a start-up company named Sonder, the same company Apple is in the process of acquiring. What the tipster describes is each key having its own E Ink display. That means individual keys and/or entire rows can change based on whatever app is loaded. In any event, we should know more soon -- Apple's expected to announce new MacBook products later this month.
The Military

ISIS Is Using Exploding Consumer Drones To Kill Enemy Fighters ( 221

According to The New York Times, the Islamic State is using small consumer drones rigged with explosions to fight Kurdish forces in Iraq. As a result, American commanders in Iraq have issued a warning to forces fighting ISIS to treat any type of small flying aircraft as potential explosive devices. The Verge reports: The small, commercially available drone was shot down in Northern Iraq and taken back to an outpost, the Times writes. But during disassembly, the drone exploded, killing the two fighters. Le Monde reports that two members of French forces were also injured by the explosion. The technique used by ISIS in the attack may have been a simple one -- ultimately only combining two widely available pieces of tech -- but videos available online have purportedly shown other recent instances of drones used as explosives, suggesting the move may be one we see more of in the future.

Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 Recall Is an Environmental Travesty ( 145

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Lost in the hype about Samsung permanently pulling the plug on its exploding phone is this: The failure of the Galaxy Note 7 is an environmental tragedy, regardless of what Samsung decides will happen to the 2.5 million devices it manufactured. Early Tuesday morning, Samsung announced it has permanently discontinued and stopped promoting the Galaxy Note 7, and has asked its customers to return their devices for a refund or exchange. A Samsung spokesperson told me the phones will not be repaired, refurbished, or resold ever again: "We have a process in place to safely dispose of the phones," the company said. There are two main things to consider here: First, though smartphones weigh less than a pound, it was estimated in 2013 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers estimated that it takes roughly 165 pounds of raw mined materials to make the average cell phone, a number that is certainly higher for the Note 7, being both one of the largest and most advanced smartphones phones ever created. Second, much of that mined material is going to be immediately lost. This is because we are terrible at recycling smartphones -- of the 50-or-so elements that are in a Galaxy Note 7, we can only recover about a dozen of them through recycling. Lost are most of the rare earth elements, which are generally the most environmentally destructive and human labor-intensive to mine. This loss of material is why smartphones are not usually recycled even several years into their lifespans -- they are refurbished and resold to cell phone insurance companies and customers in developing markets. This is because the recoverable elements within any given smartphone are only worth a couple bucks; it is far more environmentally sustainable and more profitable to extend the life of a smartphone than it is to disassemble it and turn it into something else. There is a potential silver lining here: Just as oil spills give scientists an opportunity to try out new cleanup techniques, a large-scale smartphone recall may allow us to learn more about how to recycle smartphones.

Pokemon Go Could Add 2.83 Million Years To Users' Lives, Says Study ( 156

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: A new study from Microsoft Research found that the most interested Pokemon Go players took 26% more steps than before using the app. The largest behavior changes were seen among sedentary users. No matter their gender, age, weight or lifestyle, Pokemon Go users began to move more -- taking an extra 194 steps a day once they started using the app. (That's the equivalent of walking roughly one tenth of a mile.) The researchers estimate that Pokemon Go has added 144 billion steps to U.S. physical activity. That's 143 roundtrips to the moon. The study was published online this month in the Cornell Library University. Since activity reduces mortality risks, the researchers estimated that Pokemon Go could add 2.83 million years to the life expectancy of an assumed 25 million U.S. users. Based off research that showed walking reduces mortality, the researchers calculated that Pokemon Go users who continued to walk an extra 1,000 steps a day would enjoy 41.4 days of additional life expectancy. The Microsoft scientists examined data shared by 31,793 users of Microsoft Band, a wearable device, and Bing, the company's search engine. They compared the movement data from the wearables with users' web search queries. Pokemon Go players were identified by web searches that indicated they were playing the game. The Microsoft team also looked at four of the most popular health apps on Apple and Android devices. They found these apps had little impact on a person's behavior. The activity levels of Pokemon Go users changed far more.

Samsung Ships Flameproof Boxes For Note 7 Returns ( 88

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Samsung has been forced to cease production of its disastrous Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones because they keep catching fire, but it still has to address the problem of cleaning up its mess. The phone has been recalled twice, and owners now have to send their incendiary handsets back to the South Korean firm. And that poses a bit of a problem: if you need to issue a recall for a phone that is prone to spontaneously combust, you don't want those phones catching fire in transit. Samsung's solution is a fancy "Note 7 Return Kit," and it has sent one to XDA Developers. The kit contains a special "Recovery Box" that's lined with ceramic fiber paper to provide some protection against incineration. Samsung warns that some people will have a bad reaction to this lining, so the recovery kit also includes some gloves to protect your hands. They don't appear to be flame retardant, so if your Note 7 is currently ablaze, we'd suggest minimizing contact with it. Samsung also includes a shipping label to send the phone back. The box reinforces that flying ban, noting that the devices are only to be shipped by ground, safely within reach of the quenching hoses of the fire department.

PC Industry Is Now On a Two-Year Downslide ( 310

According to analyst firm Gartner, PC shipments have declined for eight consecutive quarters -- "the longest duration of decline in the history of the PC industry." The company found that worldwide PC shipments totaled 68.9 million units in the third quart of 2016, a 5.7 percent decline from the third quarter of 2015. The Verge reports: The firm cites poor back-to-school sales and lowered demand in emerging markets. But the larger issue, as it has been for quite some time, is more existential than that. "The PC is not a high priority device for the majority of consumers, so they do not feel the need to upgrade their PCs as often as they used to," writes Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa. "Some may never decide to upgrade to a PC again." The threat, of course, comes from smartphones, which have more aggressive upgrade cycles than PCs and have over time grown powerful enough to compete with desktop and laptop computers at performing less intensive tasks. Tablets too have become more capable, with Apple pushing its iPad Pro line as a viable laptop replacement. PC makers are feeling the pressure. HP, Dell, and Asus each had low single-digit growth, but Acer, Apple, and Lenovo all experienced declines, with Apple and Lenovo each suffering double-digit drops. Meanwhile, the rest of the PC market, which collectively ships more units per quarter than any of the big-name brands, is down more than 16 percent. Some good news is that 2-in-1 devices have experienced year-over-year growth. Kitigawa also notes: "While our PC shipment report does not include Chromebooks, our early indicator shows that Chromebooks exceeded PC shipment growth."

Sprint To Provide 1 Million Students With Free Internet, Mobile Devices ( 65

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Wireless carrier Sprint Corp on Tuesday pledged to provide 1 million U.S. high school students with free mobile devices and internet access as part of a White House initiative to expand opportunities for lower income kids. Marcelo Claure, chief executive of Sprint, said the plan builds on the company's prior commitment through the White House's ConnectED program to get 50,000 students high speed internet. He said Sprint realized that while providing students with internet at school was helpful, students would still need to be able to use the internet at home. "We are going to equip 1 million kids with the tools they need to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams," Claure told reporters on a White House call. Sprint aims to give cell phones, tablets, laptops or mobile hot spots to students who do not have internet at home. Students would be able to choose the type of device that might meet their needs and it would be coupled with four years of free data plans. The company hopes to reach its goal of a million students in five years. Manufacturers have agreed to provide the mobile devices at no cost, Claure said. He also said the company would encourage customers to donate their old devices to the program and that it would not cost Sprint much to allow the free use of its network.

Samsung Permanently Discontinues Galaxy Note 7 ( 251

After the replacement units of Galaxy Note 7 also started to catch fire, Samsung is now permanently discontinuing its latest flagship smartphone (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source), the company said today. The news comes a day after Samsung halted sales of Note 7 once again and began asking users to return the device. So far nearly 50 incidents of Note 7 causing fires have been reported. More importantly, many people have been physically injured with their new Galaxy phone catching fire. WSJ reports: Samsung said in a filing with South Korean regulators on Tuesday that it would permanently cease sales of the device, a day after it announced a temporary halt to production of the smartphones. "Taking our customer's safety as our highest priority, we have decided to halt sales and production of the Galaxy Note 7," the company said. The move comes on a day when Samsung shares tumbled 8%, its biggest one-day decline in eight years, amid increasing pressure after a new string of reported smartphone fires in the U.S.

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