Updates from May, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: lexmark, patent, ,   

    Supreme Court releases printer cartridges from patent prison 

    Supreme Court releases printer cartridges from patent prison

    As the old adage goes, computer printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids on earth, commanding anywhere from $13 to $75 an ounce. In too many cases it’s less expensive to buy a new printer than it is to buy a replacement cartridge for the printer you already have. Because of the price, an after-market of sorts sprung up of services that could refill your old cartridges at a fraction of the price of buying a new one. For years the printer companies battled with these services claiming refilling the cartridges violated their patents. Yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that argument was invalid.

    The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit brought about by printer manufacturer Lexmark who were suing a small company that bought used cartridges, refilled them and resold them at a much cheaper price. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. compared the practice of garages being able to repair and sell used cars and said these kinds of practices are vital to the economy.

    Now that printer makers may have some competition on their hands, how will this affect the prices of ink? Will it continue to be more expensive than milk and gasoline by volume or will they double down on continuing to mark up the prices to ridiculous amounts out of protest? Maybe we’ll even see a new influx of businesses who can now freely refill your cartridges without fear of legal action, which would be great news for consumers.

     
  • Geebo 9:05 am on May 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Chipotle, ,   

    Chipotle malware attack exposed customers’ card info 

    Chipotle malware attack exposed customers' card info

    Recently, restaurant chain Chipotle announced they experienced a massive data breach that affected numerous locations nationwide. If you visited the restaurant between March 24 and April 18 of this year and paid with a debit or credit card, the odds are that your card information has been exposed to hackers and identity thieves.

    This is just another incident in a long series of incidents that have plagued Chipotle over the past couple of years. In 2015, Chipotle was the subject of a number of food safety issues that involved outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus.

    What makes the Chipotle breach different from most large consumer data breaches is that Chipotle’s card reader system was infected with malware. While Chipotle has been upfront with news about the breach, they haven’t said how the malware found its way into their system. Usually, a user has to open an infected attachment in an email or visit a malware infected website for it to spread among the system. That could lead one to ask if the card reader system is attached to other easily compromised systems within the corporate information chain.

    Chipotle has said their card readers are currently free of malware, but without disclosing how they became infected in the first place it could lead customers to believe they’re still not secure and they’re private information is still at risk.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Kodi Box, ,   

    Facebook Marketplace has banned Kodi Boxes. What are they, and why are they banned? 

    Facebook Marketplace has banned Kodi Boxes. What are they, and why are they banned?

    Facebook Marketplace recently joined other places like Amazon and Ebay by banning the sale of ‘fully loaded’ Kodi Boxes by claiming that they promote piracy. So you may be asking what is a Kodi Box and what’s so bad about it? Before we get there we need to explain exactly what Kodi is.

    Kodi is software that you can install on just about any device that not only organizes all your media, but allows you to play your downloaded content on your HD TV. Some devices are sold that have Kodi pre-installed on them. They are very similar to the Amazon Fire Stick or the Google Chromecast. However, Kodi is open source, meaning anyone can either alter the code or make add-ons that allow Kodi devices to stream pirated content. This can include the streaming of first run movies that are still in the theater or pay-per-view sporting events.

    The Kodi Boxes that Facebook Marketplace is banning are the ones listed as ‘fully loaded’. This is thinly-veiled code meaning the boxes can be used for pirated content.

    For those of us who are old enough to remember the advent of cable television, this is akin to the pirate cable boxes from back in the day that would illegally unscramble all the pay channels.

    In conclusion, it’s not illegal to own or use a Kodi Box, unless it runs the apps that allow you to pirate paid content for free.

     
  • Geebo 8:59 am on May 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AB297, craigslist bill, nevada, safe zones   

    Does Nevada’s new ‘craigslist law’ really protect consumers? 

    Does Nevada's new 'craigslist law' protect consumers?

    Earlier this week, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed bill AB297 into law. The bill, known as the ‘craigslist bill’, was sponsored by State Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui of Las Vegas. The law now states that each police department within Nevada will now have at least one area dedicated to online transactions that must be within the confines of the police department. While some departments in Nevada already have these safe zones, other departments will have until September 30th to comply. The question remains, will this actually protect classifieds users from potential robberies and other violence?

    Safe zones in police stations are unfortunately nothing new. It’s been suggested for years that people should use police department grounds to complete classifieds transactions. The common belief is either a potential criminal will refuse to meet their target at a police station or that no one will try anything foolish at a police station.

    While this law will go a long way in protecting some consumers and bring awareness to the dangers of craigslist, a large number of the populace will not use these safe zones. A lot of people in poorer and urban areas have a distrust of police. Whether or not that distrust is warranted is a topic for another day, but it is a reality. Consumers in these areas will continue to practice unsafe transactions just to avoid any involvement from police.

    This is also not taking into account that someone may actually try to commit a robbery or something else in one of these safe zones. If you think about it, a number of the old rules no longer apply to safe transactions. The rules used to be you takes someone with you to the transaction and meet them in public during the day. This hasn’t stopped robberies and murders committed through craigslist from taking place in public during the day. Just recently in Georgia, a man was killed in a restaurant parking lot during the afternoon after a craigslist transaction went wrong. Therefore, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for someone to try to commit a crime right in front of police.

    While the legislation is well-intentioned, it’s doubtful it will have much effect since safe zones across the country have not slowed the march of crime on craigslist. This legislation shouldn’t have even come to this. If craigslist actually took some basic steps to try to protect their users this wouldn’t even be an issue. Instead craigslist continues to stick its head in the sand where they still think it’s 1996.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: art theft, , Mordokwan, rembrandt, wire fraud   

    Was craigslist used in the country’s largest art heist? 

    Was craigslist used in the country's largest art heist?

    There’s no doubt that craigslist has a crime problem. One industry observer even called craigslist a ‘cesspool of crime’. The crimes committed on craigslist are countless, but one you don’t normally hear about is art theft. We’re not talking about dogs playing poker either.

    Over 25 years ago, two men disguised as police stole over $500 million in artwork from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Two of those pieces were Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” (partially shown above), and Johannes Vermeer’s “The Concert”. “The Concert” is valued at $200 million. The FBI has been offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the paintings.

    Recently, a man known only by the pseudonym of ‘Mordokwan’, allegedly took out craigslist ads all over the world claiming he had the aforementioned paintings and was selling them both for $55 million. So, was a crime so rare that it’s usually reserved for heist movies brokered through craigslist? Not exactly.

    As it turns out, it was a crime that craigslist is more known for, wire fraud. ‘Mordokwan’ turned out to be 47-year-old Todd Andrew Desper of Beckley, West Virginia. Authorities were able to track him down after he allegedly requested a $5 million cashier’s check be sent to a PO Box at a local UPS Store. Desper was said to not be in possession of any of the paintings advertised or any of the ones stolen and is not believed to be connected to the original heist.

    While Mr. Mordokwan may not be the smartest criminal to ever use craigslist, he’s far from the only one, and craigslist continues to not lift a finger when it comes to their users’ safety.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on May 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Is a rogue state exerting undue influence on Bitcoin? 

    Is a rogue state exerting undue influence on Bitcoin?

    Cryptocurrency Bitcoin is back in the news this week after its advocates celebrated the fact that its value has risen past the $2,000 mark for the first time in its seven-year history. Many claim it’s due to policy changes in Japan and China that have made it easier for traders to buy into Bitcoin. However, could there be a more nefarious reason behind the surge?

    Bitcoin made headlines prior to this due to the WannaCry ransomware attack. The cyber-extortionists asked for $300 to $600 in Bitcoin as he ransom for your encrypted files. While the attack is said to have failed in terms of netting the attackers a king’s ransom, what if that was only part of their plan?

    Security experts are now saying the code within the WannaCry attack traces back to a state sponsored hacking group in North Korea. The hermit kingdom has been in a state of financial distress for decades now with even neighboring China cutting back on support. With so many businesses now attempting to keep Bitcoin on hand in case of another such attack, is this the real reason the price has surged? Without a ‘legitimate’ regulating body Bitcoin is subject to wild price fluctuations which could potentially lead any state-sponsored group to strong-arm the price into rising or falling depending on their needs. Could North Korea be trying to use the surge in Bitcoin to make some money for themselves? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on May 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    The BBB issues Summer warning about job scams 

    The BBB issues Summer warning about job scams

    With the Summer fast approaching, a number of businesses will be looking for seasonal help. In turn, a number of scam artists will be looking to take advantage of those in need of employment. These con men will not just be using the sub-par pages of craigslist to find victims, but will be taking to more legitimate employment sites like Monster and CareerBuilder Recently, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) released their tips on how to avoid being taken advantage of.

    Some of the tips include…

    • Being wary of ads that say “immediate start” “no experience necessary”
    • Be careful of generic sounding job titles
    • Go to the company’s website directly rather than clicking on a link
    • Never give them your financial information
    • Never give them any money
    • Look up the business’ location

    A job may also be a scam if you are asked to be interviewed in a coffee shop or fast food place if that’s not the job you’re applying for. You should also be wary if you’re asked to be interviewed either in your home or someone else’s. Unfortunately, with these potential job scams, not only is your money at risk but your well-being could be as well.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on May 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Is net neutrality dead? 

    Is net neutrality dead?

    Yesterday, the President Trump-backed FCC voted 2-1 to overturn the net neutrality regulations the Obama administration had put in place in 2015. Net neutrality basically states all internet traffic should be treated equally and internet service providers should not charge consumers extra for prioritized traffic.

    FCC chairman Ajit Pai has stated he believes overturning net neutrality will promote competition between ISPs and will result in more choices for consumers, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In most US markets, consumers only have a choice between either their local cable company or their local phone company. In most cases those companies are part of larger conglomerates like Time Warner, Comcast, and AT&T. So if anything, these companies will more than likely offer less actual choice to consumers while raising prices. Instead they will offer tiered services offering faster traffic to popular sites for more money, disguising that option as choice.

    Net neutrality isn’t dead just yet, but it’s on life support. The public has 90 days from yesterday to respond to the FCC’s actions, but no matter how rose-colored your glasses may be, it’s unlikely they will reverse their decision to kill net neutrality.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on May 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Should companies keep Bitcoin on hand in case of ransomware? 

    Should companies keep Bitcoin on hand in case of ransomware?

    In wake of the recent WannaCry ransomware attack, cryptocurrency Bitcoin has been in the news a lot lately. In a nutshell, Bitcoin is a digital form of currency that is almost completely anonymous. While it can be used for legal and legitimate transactions, Bitcoin does have somewhat of a shady reputation since it’s not only used as the method of payment to unlock ransomware, but it’s also been used as the de facto form of payment in dark web black markets like Silk Road.

    The people behind the WannaCry attack have so far claimed close to $100,000 in ransom. That’s not a lot when you consider that they were asking between $300 and $600 for each machine that had become infected that was said to number in the hundreds of thousands. According to NBC News, a number of companies have been stockpiling Bitcoin in order to quickly resolve any ransomware attacks they may become the victims of. Is this good business? Well, yes and no. As mentioned before, there is never any guarantee that the encrypted files will ever be released if the ransom is paid. However, it could be more financially viable for some companies to pay the ransom rather than deploying a battalion of IT workers to hopefully fix the problem. Either way to finding a solution a is a huge gamble and neither of them have any kind of beneficial payoff.

    Paying off ransomware may get your files back, but in the long run it encourages more groups to launch more attacks.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    What is Backpage hiding now? 

    What is Backpage hiding now?

    Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

    Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected an appeal by legally embattled classifieds site Backpage. Backpage had asked the court that the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee should either return, destroy, or refrain from publishing documents the subcommittee received in its investigation into Backpage. Previously a Senate subcommittee had stated that Backpage allegedly had moderators edit ads for prostitution to make them appear more legitimate by having them remove certain keywords that would indicate the person in the ad may be under 18.

    Backpage’s behavior has been more than suspicious since the Senate investigation into alleged criminal acts had started. At first Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer completely ignored a Congressional subpoena stating that business he had overseas was more important. Then when Ferrer finally did appear before the Senate subcommittee there was a lot of fifth amendment pleading. This isn’t even taking into account that Ferrer and Backpage founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are all facing criminal charges in the state of California on pimping and money laundering charges.

    So now, the question has to be asked, what is in Backpage’s seized records that they are so afraid of being made public? Is it the proverbial smoking gun that will definitively show that Backpage was knowingly complicit in the sexual slavery of countless women and girls or will it show they were involved in other criminal activity, such as money laundering, because of their involvement in nationwide human trafficking? Lastly, if any type of information like this is revealed, will it finally get the public to wake up to the atrocities Backpage has allegedly been involved in just so they could make a few hundred million dollars?

     
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