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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fujitsu Celsius H730 laptop launches with palm-based vein authentication



Biometric security in and of itself is nothing new, but Fujitsu has launched a laptop that takes a new spin on an old idea. The Fujitsu Celsius H730 laptop is the first of its kind to offer palm-based vein authentication, with the laptop’s security elements scanning the otherwise invisible vein pattern in one’s hand, which is unique to every person.
This technology is called, aptly enough, PalmSecure, and it is not a new technology for the company, which offers multiple sensors for it on the market.Rather, the Celsius is the first laptop available that features this technology, which is contact-less and works via near-IR rays that are absorbed by the hemoglobin in one’s veins. Using image recognition and similar tech, the veins appear black when scanned, allowing the laptop to detect the unique pattern and grant authorization.
The owner’s vein pattern must be pre-registered into the system, obviously, with all subsequent authorizations being compared to it. Fujitsu promises that its PalmSecure technology has an extremely low false acceptance rate of 0.00008-percent, and because the authorization token is one’s own body part, having someone get around the security system is near impossible.
As far as other specifications go, the laptop is otherwise fairly average, with a 15-inch display and a 3.8GHz Intel Core i7 under the hood. The memory can go up to a very high 32GB, graphics come by way of an NVIDIA Quadro, and storage can be in the form of either a hybrid drive or an SSD, user dependent. The laptop will launch in Europe next month starting at £1330, with no word on a US release.
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Techies vs. NSA: Encryption arms race escalates

Encrypted e-mail, secure instant messaging, and other privacy services are booming following the National Security Agency’s recently revealed surveillance programs. But the flood of new services is of variable quality, and much of it, experts say, can bog down computers while not keeping out spies.
In the end, the new geek wars —between tech industry programmers on the one side and government spooks, fraudsters, and hacktivists on the other — may leave people’s PCs and businesses’ computer systems encrypted to the teeth but no better protected from hordes of savvy code crackers.
‘‘Every time a situation like this erupts you’re going to have a frenzy of snake oil sellers who are going to throw their products into the street,’’ says Carson Sweet, chief executive of data storage security firm CloudPassage. ‘‘It’s quite a quandary for the consumer.’’
Encryption isn’t meant to keep hackers out, but when it’s designed and implemented correctly, it alters the way messages look. Intruders who don’t have a decryption key see only garbled text.
A series of disclosures from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden this year has exposed sweeping US government surveillance programs. The revelations are sparking fury and calls for better encryption from citizens and leaders in France, Germany, Spain, and Brazil who were reportedly among those tapped. Both Google and Yahoo, whose data center communications lines were also reportedly tapped, have committed to boosting encryption and online security.
For those who want to take matters into their own hands, encryption software has been proliferating across the Internet since the Snowden revelations broke.Heml.is — Swedish for ‘‘secret’’ — is marketed as a secure messaging app for your phone. MailPile aims to combine a Gmail-like user friendly interface with a sometimes clunky technique known as public key encryption. Younited hopes to keep spies out of your cloud storage, and Pirate Browser aims to keep spies from seeing your search history. A host of other programs with such names as Silent Circle, RedPhone, and Wickr all promise privacy.
The quality of these new programs and services is uneven, and a few have run into trouble. Nadim Kobeissi developed encrypted instant messaging service Cryptocat in 2011 as an alternative to services such as Facebook chat and Skype.The Montreal-based programmer received glowing press for Cryptocat’s ease of use, but he suffered embarrassment earlier this year when researchers discovered an error in the program’s code, which may have exposed users’ communications. Kobeissi used the experience to argue that new privacy apps need to be aggressively vetted.
‘‘You need to be vigilant,’’ he says. ‘‘We’re two years old and we’re just starting to reach the kind of maturity I would want.’’
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Ubuntu inspires friend in deed

iol news pic ss Shannon Webb ubuntu (38376450)
Twelve-year-old Shannon Webb, left, is using her talents to help raise sponsorship for fellow actor/singer Reabetsoe Machepha, 11, so they can both attend the ART Expo in Orlando in the US next June. Picture: Nicholas Thabo Tau
Johannesburg - The two young actors met at a casting agency. Although they lived on opposite sides of the city, they became best friends.
When both Shannon Webb, 12, and her 11-year-old friend, Reabetsoe Machepha, caught the eye of a famous talent scout, only one of them could afford to go to Orlando, Florida in the US to perform at the ART Expo.
But Webb, from Fourways, would not accept that. She devised a plan “in the spirit of ubuntu” to raise the money so that her friend could accompany her. To date she has raised half the money needed.
Recently, the two young entertainers were among 450 contestants who performed at the International Talent Showcase held at Montecasino. Both made a memorable impression on US actress and international scout Kim Myers and music producer Tashia Stafford, who is the chief executive officer of Atlanta’s Icon Studios, which has produced music for Justin Bieber, Akon, Destiny’s Child and the late Whitney Houston.
Webb and Machepha met at the Caitlin’s Casting Character Agency and have been friends for four months.
When Webb, a Grade 7 pupil at Beaulieu Preparatory School, learned that Machepha would not attend next year’s expo because of financial constraints, she came up with a plan to raise the funds for him.
She has single-handedly raised half through donations, performances and golf days. Machepha only learnt of the fund-raising efforts at a surprise announcement recently.
“Reabetsoe, I know that you really want to go overseas so I have raised funds for you,” Webb pronounced to her friend when the Saturday Star interviewed the pair. She hopes a further R35 000 can be raised before June next year.
She said she was blessed to have the money to travel abroad and wanted Machepha to share the experience.
An ecstatic and speechless Machepha thanked Webb for her efforts.
Machepha, a gifted artist, has appeared on M-Net’s Mzansi Magic as a supporting actor in the award-winning South African movie Phindile’s Heart.
Addi Lang, owner of the casting agency, said she was extremely proud of the humility shown by the youngsters towards each other.
“Here you have a child who has made a sacrifice so that her peer can be happy.This is what we strive to teach them as their mentors, coaches and parents. We want them to grow up in a fulfilled society that knows no racial boundaries and that is willing to help one another,” she said.
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ASUS Teams Up With Canonical to Offer Affordable Ubuntu-powered Notebooks

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about Dell's latest Ubuntu notebook, the XPS 13 "Developer Edition" , also dubbed "Sputnik 3". This is the kind of notebookthat most Linux fans would love to have; it packs in a fast Intel Core i7 dual-core, a 256GB SSD , 8GB of RAM, and a crisp 1080p 13.3-inch display. As fantastic as the XPS 13 is, though, its $1,549 price tag puts it out of range for a lot of people.
The upside to that is that Dell offers a decent range of other Ubuntu notebooks, but as mentioned in the earlier post, things could be improved. With Dell tackling the high-end, what about the low-end? Or perhaps, ultra low-end?
ASUS is on it. In an announcement this week from Canonical, we learn of two notebooks from ASUS that are targeted at those who prefer to spend their $200 or so on hardware, not ~$150 on hardware and then ~$50 on the side for aWindows license. 
What we have as a result is the X201E-DH01 (price unknown, as it's currently sold-out), and 1015E-DS03 ($199.99, as of the time of writing), both of which are very attractive given their ultra-low pricing.
Both models feature Intel's Celeron 847, a circa mid-2011 dual-core CPU which runs at 1.1GHz, while the X201E comes in a slightly larger form-factor (11.6-inch, versus 10.1-inch) and bumps the RAM from 2GB to 4GB. For storage, both include a 320GB hard drive.
Although low-cost notebooks like these can prove perfect for those who simply want the cheapest notebook possible, Canonical is focusing more on education than anything - and though it's a little rare to see in headlines, this involves the USA specifically, and can benefit teachers or students alike:
As Ubuntu, and all the software bundled on it is free, there’s no licence fees in the purchase price which significantly reduces cost. This is perfect for students and institutions, both of whose finances can be hard pressed.
That's something I can definitely get behind.
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Snake oil helping fuel computer security drive

Encrypted email, secure instant messaging and other privacy services are booming in the wake of the National Security Agency 's recently revealed surveillance programs.
However, the flood of new computer security services is of variable quality, and much of it, experts say, can bog down computers and isn't likely to keep out spies.
In the end, the new geek wars — between tech industry programmers on the one side and government spooks, fraudsters and hacktivists on the other — may leave people's PCs and businesses' computer systems encrypted to the teeth but no better protected from hordes of savvy code crackers.
“Every time a situation like this erupts, you're going to have a frenzy of snake oil sellers who are going to throw their products into the street,” says Carson Sweet , CEO of San Francisco-based data storage security firm CloudPassage.“It's quite a quandary for the consumer.”
Encryption isn't meant to keep hackers out, but when it's designed and implemented correctly, it alters the way messages look. Intruders who don't have a decryption key see only gobbledygook.
A series of disclosures from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden this year has exposed sweeping U.S. government surveillance programs.
The revelations are sparking fury and calls for better encryption from citizens and leaders in France, Germany, Spain and Brazil who reportedly were among those tapped. Both Google and Yahoo, whose data center communications lines also reportedly were tapped, have committed to boosting encryption and online security.
Although there's no indication Facebook was tapped, the social network is also upping its encryption systems.
“Yahoo has never given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency. Ever,” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wrote in a Nov. 18 post on the company's Tumblr blog announcing plans to encrypt all of its services by early next year. “There is nothing more important to us than protecting our users' privacy.
For those who want to take matters into their own hands, encryption software has been proliferating across the Internet since the Snowden revelations broke.
Heml.is — Swedish for “secret” — is marketed as a secure messaging app for your phone. MailPile aims to combine a Gmail-like, user-friendly interface with a sometimes clunky technique known as public key encryption.
Younited hopes to keep spies out of your cloud storage, and Pirate Browser aims to keep spies from seeing your search history.
A host of other security-centered programs with names like Silent Circle, RedPhone, Threema, TextSecure, and Wickr all promise privacy.
Many of the people behind these programs are well known for pushing the boundaries of privacy and security online.
Heml.is is being developed by Peter Sunde , co-founder of notorious file sharing website The Pirate Bay. Finland's F-Secure, home of Internet security expertMikko Hypponen , is behind Younited. Dreadlocked hacker hero Moxie Marlinspike is the brains behind RedPhone, while Phil Zimmerman , one of the biggest names in privacy, is trying to sell the world on Silent Circle.
Even flamboyant file-sharing kingpin Kim Dotcom is getting in on the secure messaging game with an encrypted email service.
The quality of these new programs and services is uneven, and a few have run into trouble.
Nadim Kobeissi, developed encrypted instant messaging service Cryptocat in 2011 as an alternative to services such as Facebook chat and Skype.
The Montreal-based programmer received glowing press for Cryptocat's ease of use, but he suffered embarrassment earlier this year when researchers discovered an error in the program's code, which may have exposed users' communications.
Kobeissi used the experience to argue that shiny new privacy apps need to be aggressively vetted before users can trust them.
Heml.is also encountered difficulties and angered users when its creators said they wouldn't use open source — or publicly auditable — code. And Silent Circle abruptly dropped its encrypted email service in August, expressing concern that it could not keep the service safe from government intrusion.
“What we found is the encryption services range in quality,” says George Kurtz , CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based CrowdStrike, a big data, security technology company. “I feel safe using some built by people who know what they are doing, but others are Johnny-come-latelies who use a lot of buzzwords but may not be all that useful.
Even so, private services report thousands of new users, and nonprofit, free encryption services say they have also see sharp upticks in downloads.
But many warn that encryption offers a false sense of security.
“The fundamental designers of cryptography are in an arms race right now, but there are a series of weaknesses and missing oversights that have nothing to do with encryption that leave people vulnerable,” says Patrick Peterson , CEO of Silicon Valley-based email security firm Agari. And many that do work, bog down or freeze computers, forcing “a trade-off between security and convenience.
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