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Category: Gear

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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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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Recommended Reading: Apple’s original television aspirations

Apple Is a Step
Closer to Making
Its Own TV Shows

David Sims,
The Atlantic

While the company's television aspirations remain largely a mystery, Apple hired two big names this week to help build its slate of original shows. Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, presidents of Sony Pictures Television, will make the move to Cupertino this summer with experience making hits like Damages, Breaking Bad, Justified and other series. The Atlantic offers a look at what this means for Apple and what we can expect from Eddy Cue & Co. in the months to come.

The 50 Best Good Bad Movies
The Ringer

Just trust me: You need to read this roundup.

Sorry, Han Solo, Star Wars Don't Need No Stinking Directors
Peter Rubin, Wired

Lucasfilm parted ways with the director duo of the upcoming Hans Solo movie this week, but quickly replaced them with Ron Howard.

The Secret Lives of Playlists
Liz Pelly, Watt

An interesting look at who's really behind some of those Spotify playlists and what you need to know about how it all works.

Welcome to the Wikipedia of the Alt-Right
Alexis Sobel Fitts, Wired

What do you do when you think Wikipedia is run "by the left-wing thought police who administer it?" You make your own alt-right version.

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The Morning After: Weekend Edition

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Welcome to the weekend. We have Galaxy Note 8 rumors, and information about an Amazon beehive -- we'll explain.


Hopefully, that's the only thing exploding.Wallet-busting Galaxy Note 8 expected to launch in September

After an unfortunate end to the Galaxy Note 7 saga, Samsung is apparently ready to pick up where it left off. A rumor from VentureBeat suggests that the next Note will launch in September, and despite rocking a slightly smaller battery for obvious reasons, will be the most expensive one yet at around $900 unlocked. For that price, you should expect its trademark stylus, plus 6GB of RAM and, in a first for Samsung, a dual-lens 12MP rear camera.


Making the leap from good to great.OnePlus 5 review

Surprise! OnePlus is back with another phone that matches mostly high-end specs and design with an affordable price tag. The OnePlus is blazingly fast, with a good dual camera and solid battery life. Ultimately, despite some compromises, it's still an excellent value.


Hear us out.Amazon dreams of putting a giant drone beehive in your city

We don't know if it will happen, but Amazon has patented its concept for a warehouse that services drones as well as trucks. It manages to pull double duty with a beehive-style cylindrical tower that could spit quadcopters in any direction. It's just an idea, but remember who told you first when one is going up on top of your local Whole Foods.


Be careful.Tesla driver in fatal Autopilot crash ignored safety warnings

This week the NTSB released its report on a crash involving the use of Tesla's AutoPilot feature. While it debunked reports that the driver may have been watching a movie at the time of the accident, it indicated that he might have only had his hands on the wheel for 37 seconds of the 25-minute trip, ignoring the system's warnings. The NTSB's next step will be to report the probable cause of the accident and make recommendations to prevent similar ones in the future.


A 'previously undisclosed covert measure.'Report: Obama authorized a secret cyber operation against Russia

Late last year the Obama Administration publicly sanctioned Russia in response to cyber attacks on the US election system. Secretly, according to a new report by the Washington Post, it also authorized a new kind of cyber operation in response, placing in critical Russian networks that could later be triggered remotely.


Good to know.Scientists may have solved a key barrier to fusion power

A new article published in Physical Review Letters details how to solve a dangerous issue with runaway electrons that has, until now, posed a major problem for fusion reactors. The team discovered that it's possible to decelerate electrons by injecting heavy ions, like neon or argon, into the fusion reactor. The electrons collide with these neutral atoms, resulting in energy loss and slower speeds.

But wait, there's more...

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you'll miss if you don't subscribe.

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