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Category: applenews

It’s now easier to get Purism’s security-focused laptops

Purism is nowhere near as well-known as other PC makers, but you may want to keep it on your radar if you're becoming increasingly concerned about security and privacy. The company, which only used to sell made-to-order machines, has just announced the general availability of its security-focused Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptops. That means you don't have to wait months in a waiting list just to be able to buy one -- you'll now get your computer within "a few weeks after purchase."

The company says it works with hardware manufacturers to make sure its components can't be used to infiltrate your system. For instance, its laptops have a kill switch that turns off their mic and camera, so you can make sure nobody's spying on you through your webcam, which unfortunately can happen to anyone. Another kill switch disables their WiFi and Bluetooth in an instant to prevent unauthorized connection to your computer in public. Librem 13, 15 and the brand's other computers also run the company's own PureOS that's a derivative of Debian GNU/Linux.

Purism might have decided it's high time to make their computers more accessible now that people are becoming more conscious about the security of their devices. It specifically mentioned the WannaCry ransomware attacks in its announcement post as one of the more recent large-scale security scares. By eliminating the need to wait for months, the buying process becomes much less intimidating for ordinary people or non-security researchers. Take note that the Librem laptops aren't cheap, though: based on what we've seen from the manufacturer's website, the 13-inch laptop will set you back at least $1,699, while the cheapest 15-inch configuration costs $1,999.

Source: Purism

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Self-driving cars are safer when they talk to each other

Most current self-driving technology relies on cameras, radar and lidar. These sensory devices serve as eyes for the car, mimicking what a human driver can see. But a University of Michigan public-private partnership called Mcity is testing V2V, or vehicle to vehicle communication, and has found that it makes their autonomous prototypes even safer.

V2V works by wirelessly sharing data such as location, speed and direction. Using DSRC, or Dedicated Short Range Communication, V2V can send up to 10 messages per second. This communication allows cars to see beyond what is immediately in front of them -- sensing a red light around a blind curve, or automatically braking for a car that runs a stop sign.

Mcity is also using a new augmented reality system to test their cars equipped with V2V. They've created virtual vehicles equipped with the technology that can communicate with their actual prototypes. This allows them to test scenarios that are cost-prohibitive or too dangerous for real-world trials.

The catch of V2V? It has to be installed in the majority of cars and infrastructure (such as traffic lights) to function adequately. Regardless, anything that gets us closer to safe, reliable autonomous cars is a win, so it will be interesting to see how this tech develops.

Source: University of Michigan

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Windows 10 source code leak is an embarrassment for Microsoft

Earlier this week, Beta Archive posted Windows 10 source code related to USB, storage and WiFi drivers on its free FTP site. Now, a spokesperson for Microsoft has confirmed to The Verge that this code, from the Shared Source Kit, is genuine.

The breach was initially thought to be massive; The Register reported that the leak consisted of around 32TB of files. They claimed it included builds of Windows that haven't yet been released. However, it later became clear that the leak was smaller than originally reported, and what's more, much of this data had been made available. The Shared Source Kit has already been distributed to Microsoft's partners and licensees through the Shared Source initiative.

That doesn't mean this data leak isn't serious, though. It's an embarrassing black mark for Microsoft at a time that more and more people are paying attention to and concerned about computer security. While the source code has been removed voluntarily by Beta Archive, it's unclear how many people had already downloaded it. It's possible that it still could be distributed via other methods and used to create exploits for Windows 10.

Source: The Verge, The Register

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Hackers target UK parliament email accounts

After a report from The London TImes that the email addresses and passwords of British cabinet members and other government officials were being traded by Russian hackers, it looks like the inevitable next step has occurred: a cyberattack on the UK parliament.

According to Bloomberg, the Parliament along with the UK's National Cyber Security Centre are investigating an attack that started on Friday evening. To reduce the chances of being breached, remote access to email accounts has been disabled. In a statement, a parliament spokesperson said it was investigating "unauthorised attempts to access accounts of parliamentary networks users."

Parliament members took to Twitter to report on the removal of remote access and asked fellow members to text any urgent messages.

So far it looks like the attack has been largely unsuccessful at penetrating the government's servers. Still, the UK has had a rough couple of months. In May, UK hospitals were crippled by the WannaCry ransom attack.

As hackers become more sophisticated, are backed by nations and continue to get access to leaked government-held exploits, attacks like this will unfortunately become more common.

Source: Bloomberg

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In 2017, tweets are official presidential statements

Does a tweet count as an official response to a federal inquiry? Unsurprisingly, the White House thinks so. As reported by Reuters, the White House sent a letter to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee claiming that a pair of Trump tweets on Thursday were the president's official response to an inquiry from the committee. At question is the existence of any recordings or memos of Trump's conversations with fired FBI director James Comey, and Trump's latest tweets claim that he "did not make, and do not have, any such recordings."

It's hard to keep up with all the back-and-forth, but after Trump unexpectedly fired Comey in early May, he then tweeted that Comey had "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" In his early June testimony, Comey essentially said he'd welcome the existence of those tapes, indicating that they'd exonerate him and show that he's been telling the truth about his accounts of his interactions with the president.

The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which has been investigating the extent of Russian hacking and influence on the 2016 election, asked the White House counsel on June 9th about the existence of any such tapes and said the White House had until June 23rd to respond. Trump's tweets went out on the 22nd, and the White House says they're sufficient response to the inquiry, calling them a "statement" from the president.

Of course, Trump could delete the tweets at any time -- he's already deleted a handful of tweets during his presidency. Representatives Mike Conaway and Adam Schiff, the leading republican and democrat on the committee, don't agree. Conaway said that the tweet wasn't a sufficient response, while Schiff noted that Trump's tweet stopped short of denying that the White House had recordings and said he wanted a response in writing.

Given the fleeting nature of Twitter, it's not surprising that the committee wants a more traditional response. The question is whether or not the White House will provide it -- and if they don't, how these tweets will hold up to legal scrutiny in the ongoing investigation. That's not to mention the fact that Trump has since indicated that his original tapes tweet was meant to essentially influence Comey's public comments and testimony, something some believe could qualify as witness intimidation or obstruction of justice -- something the president is already believed to be under investigation for.

"If the president had no tapes, why did he suggest otherwise? Did he seek to mislead the public? Was he trying to intimidate or silence James Comey?" Schiff said on Friday. "And if so, did he take other steps to discourage potential witnesses from speaking out?" While it's almost impossible for charges to actually be brought against Trump, these developments could certainly feed into the obstruction case and eventual potential punishment from Congress.

Source: Reuters, The Washington Post

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