Tag: kill

Google and Microsoft roll out anti-theft kill switch

Google and Microsoft will follow Apple in adding an anti-theft “kill switch” to their smartphone operating systems.

The move follows the news that there had been a dramatic drop in theft of Apple iPhones and iPads after the September 2013 introduction of iOS 7, which included a kill-switch function that allows stolen devices to be remotely locked and deleted so they become useless.

In New York, iPhone theft was down 19 percent in the first five months of this year, which is almost double the 10 percent drop in overall robberies seen in the city. Over the same period, thefts of Samsung devices rose by over 40 percent.

In San Francisco, robberies of iPhones were 38 percent lower in the six months after the iOS 7 introduction versus the six months before, while in London thefts over the same period were down by 24 percent. In both cities, robberies of Samsung devices increased.

Of course the drop could have been because the later versions of the iPhone and iPad was not as interesting to thieves as rival products, but the cops are blaming the kill switch.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been leading a push to get smartphone vendors and telecom carriers to include kill switches in their products as a way to curb phone theft.

While Apple liked the idea, the other carriers and phone makers dragged their feet. What seems to have moved them are several bills that mandate kill switches working their way through state legislatures and the US Congress.

The bills demand a function that would let a phone owner remotely delete and disable a phone if stolen. The function could be disabled by consumers before a theft takes place if desired, but crucially new handsets would be supplied with it switched on by default.

Gascon and Schneiderman believe that if most phones had a kill switch, thefts would drop because the probability of a stolen phone remaining useful and thus having value would greatly diminish.

The two said the data being released on Thursday appears to “validate the kill switch as an effective part of a multi-layered approach to combatting smartphone crimes”. Although it’s worth remembering that crime is a complex subject and other factors could have contributed to the fall in Apple-related thefts or the rise in those of Samsung phones. 

E-business customers' worst nightmare jailed

An e-retailer who dealt with customer complaints by threatening to kill or rape them has been jailed for four years.

Vitaly Borker, 35, sold specs online but had a nasty habit of pushing up his Google page ranking by getting bad reviews.

According to AP, he did this by having a business model that involved deliberately harassing and abusing and generally scaring the life out of customers in what US District Judge Richard Sullivan called a terror campaign.

Borker ran DecorMyEyes.com and discovered that negative online reviews and comments pushed up the site’s page ranking on Google. He was so proud of his bad service that he bragged about it in a 2010 article by the New York Times.

The judge noted that Borker was terrifying people, putting them in fear of their lives, and of being viciously raped.

Borker pleaded guilty last year to making threats and fraud charges. Prosecutors said more than 200 complaints against Borker had been filed with the Federal Trade Commission over the operation of his website, DecorMyEyes.com, between 2007 and 2010.

Borker said that he was “genuinely and deeply sorry for the awful threats that I made”. He said he never intended on carrying out the threats.

He just said that he had a big mouth he couldn’t control, and it ruined his life.

One Chicago resident told the court that Borker harassed her for a month and a half after she tried to take advantage of the website’s money-back guarantee.

He left her a voicemail message, saying: “I hope you die. I want to slice your legs off.”

Another Louisiana resident told the court that Borker threatened to kill her and her family and to stalk her relentlessly unless she stopped trying to get her money back.

Borker’s lawyer, Dominic Amorosa, pointed out that most of Borker’s customers were satisfied, with $18 million in revenue recorded from the sales of 100,000 glasses over several years. Only $2.9 million was refunded.

US Attorney Preet Bharara called Borker “an internet shopper’s worst nightmare.”

SMS spam threatens to kill

Spam took an ugly turn Down Under with one text actually threatening to kill victims if they do not pay $5,000.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Aussie coppers are saying that they don’t think the text is real. It was sent to “a large number of people” this morning, but they are worried that someone is daft enough to take it seriously.

South Australian Police said the hoax text read: “Sum1 paid me to kill you. get spared, 48hrs to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, death is promised…E-mail me now: killerking247@yahoo.com.”

Coppers are saying that people should delete the message, not pay up and there was no need to be alarmed.

Such communications are distributed en masse and are not specifically targeting an individual, a police spokesperson said.

The spam does not come from a hack and the information contained in it could come from a variety of sources such as completing questionnaires online.

It is not clear if any one has actually paid up, although if you have a spare $5,000 to give out just because someone asks you, you probably have given a lot of your cash away for Nigerian spams which are marginally more credible. 

Obama's CIO shows up flaws in Bush's IT

President Obama’s CIO has been telling the world and its dog exactly what he inherited when he arrived for his first day on the job.

Brook Colangelo, who became CIO of the Executive Office of President, said he could not believe what the Bush administration was actually using. He initially thought it would be a walk in the park. He delivered the first presidential Blackberry, as well as handhelds to all the top administration officials.

Then he discovered that the email was down nearly a quarter of the time. More than 82 percent of the White House’s technology had reached end of life. There were desktops that still had floppy disk drives.

The White House had one data centre, and if that went down the whole lot crashed. He said six days after the administration was sworn in, the email servers went down for 21 hours and he was about to be shouted at by the Chief of Staff.

Colangelo said the White House technology situation called for a massive review of technology, people and processes.

Over the modernisation process, internet speeds were boosted by over 300 percent and the number of assets at the end of their life was reduced by over half, he told Computer World.

The White House needed to replace much of the technology including the email systems and storage area networks. The White House now has a data recovery data centre for unclassified systems, which includes redundant email servers. It also has its own functioning mobile network.

What might be alarming is that the network was allowed to get into such a state in the first place. Given that it is supposed to be the most secure and advanced network in the world, it seems that the Bush administration starved it of upgrade cash. A few years later it would have made it a doddle for hackers to visit and snoop around. 

Court rules that wanting to kill Obama is OK

A US appeals court has ruled that that it is perfectly legal in the US to go on a website and talk about wanting to kill the President of the Land of the Free.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a conviction of a man who threatened to shoot President Obama, saying that his comments were fine if he did not mean to carry them out.

The court felt that prosecutors “failed to present sufficient evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt” that the man had the intent to threaten Obama

The Judges said that if the coppers had looked at the construction of the words in his postings, it was fairly clear that they did not constitute a ‘true threat,’ and they are therefore protected speech under the First Amendment.

Walter Bagdasarian was found guilty two years ago of making threats against a presidential candidate in comments he posted on a Yahoo.com website

The Appeals panel said that Bagdasarian’s comments were “particularly repugnant” because they endorsed violence but any sane person would have twigged that he was not going to carry them out, USA Today reports.

Bagdasarian told investigators he made the mistake of posting after he had a few.

After all, who has not sunk a few lagers and claimed that a presidential candidate “will have a 50 cal in the head soon” and demand someone shot.

The panel was divided on the matter. One of the panel thought that the fear engendered by true threats limit a candidate’s freedom to participate fully in the debate leading up to the election.

If prosecutors did not take such threats seriously they could ultimately deprive the US of a potential leader.