Archive for August 17th, 2012

Anonymous may hack Mars rover ‘Curiosity’

LONDON: NASA’s Mars rover ‘Curiosity’ might be facing a hacking threat from the notorious hacker group, Anonymous, a US security firm has claimed.

Anonymous had reportedly brought down websites including Visa and several US government sites as a protest against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s arrest, and ‘Curiosity’ could be their next target, the Daily Mail reported.

A New York security firm claimed to have spotted a message on an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) asking for help to hack into the signals NASA uses to communicate with the Curiosity rover.

Flashpoint Partners spotted a message by user ‘MarsCuriosity’ in one of the Anonymous-related IRC channels that it monitors known as the AnonOps IRC channel.

“Anyone in Madrid, Spain or Canbarra who can help isolate the huge control signal used for the Mars Odyssey / Curiosity system please?” the message read.

“The cypher and hopping is a standard mode, just need base frequency and recordings/feed of the huge signal going out. (yes we can spoof it both directions!),” it added.

There is speculation by online discussion groups that the message could be a fake, or even an attempt by law enforcement agencies to trap hackers, the report said.

‘Curiosity’ had made a spectacular landing in Gale Crater at 05:30 GMT (11:00 IST) on August 6 in a two-year search to find out if the red planet once hosted conditions suitable for life.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gets zombie mod ready for launch

When Counter-Strike: Global Offensive launches next week, it’s bringing brain-loving zombies with it. In collaboration with a mod team at, Valve has revealed that a Zombie Mod for CS:GO will be available alongside the game’s launch ? specifically for PC ? on August 21.

“It was important to us as we developed CS:GO to make sure it was as moddable and extensible as any CS game,” a blog post on the official Counter-Strike site noted earlier today. “So this is just one of the many mods that will be available in the coming months.”

Though the post was light on details, it did add that lovers of CS:GO and movies should tune into GameTrailers TV tonight on Spike TV at 1am ET/10pm PT. It’s probably Counter-Strike related, but we’re still holding out hope for Gabe Newell’s home movies.

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Google adding panoramic views of Mayan ruins

MEXICO CITY: Google is adding interactive images of dozens of pre-Hispanic ruins to the “Street View” feature on its Google Maps website.

Google Mexico and Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History announced Thursday that 30 sites have been added to Street View, and dozens more will be coming online this year. The eventual goal is 90 sites.

The feature allows users to click on map locations to obtain 360-degree, interactive images composed of millions of photos taken at street level by specially equipped vehicles. Google uses a special, three-wheeled bicycle to generate images of the Mexican sites, many of which don’t have paved areas.

The sites already online include Chichen Itza, Teotihuacan and Monte Alban.

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Germany relaunches privacy probe against Facebook

BERLIN: Facebook came under fresh pressure in Germany Thursday after authorities reopened a probe into the website’s facial recognition software which they say violates the privacy of its users.

The head of the data protection office in the northern city of Hamburg, Johannes Caspar, said he would resume an investigation launched against Facebook more than a year ago but suspended in June.

Caspar agreed at the time to let negotiations between Facebook and Irish authorities about the software run their course, in the hope that the US-based company would accept stricter terms for the use of such data in Europe.

Facebook’s European operations are based in Ireland.

“This hope has only been partially fulfilled,” he said in a statement. “The potential for abuse with a biometric database is immense.”

He accuses the online social network of contravening European privacy laws with its system for registering the faces of users in photographs posted on the site.

Facebook, which began using the software last year, had pledged to stop using it on new users but declined to make other concessions, Caspar said.

“Thus the existing database of biometric data, established without the consent of those affected, remains illegal,” he said, citing an EU review in March.

Caspar said he still aimed to reach a negotiated settlement with the company, with the “minimum requirement” being that users either give their consent to their images being kept in Facebook’s database or they must be destroyed.

In December, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) said after an initial audit that Facebook had to better explain to users what happens to their personal data and give them more control.

But following complaints that little had been done, a Facebook spokesman said in April that the DPC “did not at any time say that Facebook should amend its privacy policy based on European data protection rules.”

The DPC has pledged to issue a full updated report by October.

Germany has some of Europe’s strictest privacy laws due to the abuses under its Nazi and communist dictatorships.

In 2010, it took fellow Internet giant Google to task for its Street View service featuring interactive maps with links to recent photos of homes and businesses.

As a special concession to these concerns, Google allowed Germans to “opt out” of the service, promising to pixelate their houses or shops.

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