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InfoSec News Nuggets 08/25/2020

Here’s how to turn your old phone into a home security camera for free

If you have some old phones collecting dust in a drawer somewhere, don’t sell them for a fraction of what you bought them for. If they still turn on, you can put them to good use in your home. You could turn one into a baby monitor or a makeshift Google Home speaker, for example. Those are good ideas and you can find more in the link below, but one of the most useful ways to upcycle an old phone is to make it into a home security camera.


Security researcher discloses Safari bug after Apple’s delays patch

A security researcher has published details today about a Safari browser bug that could be abused to leak or steal files from users’ devices. The bug was discovered by Pawel Wylecial, co-founder of Polish security firm REDTEAM.PL. Wylecial initially reported the bug to Apple earlier this spring, in April, but the researcher decided to go public with his findings today after the OS maker delayed patching the bug for almost a year, to the spring of 2021. In a blog post today, Wylecial said the bug resides in Safari’s implementation of the Web Share API — a new web standard that introduced a cross-browser API for sharing text, links, files, and other content.


Google Arts & Culture app lets you view ancient creatures in AR

Google has spent years developing 3D models that you can view and manipulate in the real world using smartphone-based AR. Tigers, velociraptors, Iron Man and even Childish Gambino — I’ve enjoyed summoning them all from the comfort of my living room. A Cambropachycope, though? Thanks but no thanks. Google’s latest AR offering is an ancient crustacean with a large black eye covered in tiny lenses. It’s a fascinating piece of history that just so happens to be absolutely terrifying, too — especially when it’s sat on your desk or coffee table, staring at you like an abandoned design from Aliens or Prometheus.


Bridgefy, the messenger promoted for mass protests, is a privacy disaster

The rise of mass protests over the past year—in Hong Kong, India, Iran, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, and the US—has presented activists with a major challenge. How do you communicate with one another when Internet connections are severely congested or completely shut down and at the same time keep your identity and conversations private? One heavily promoted solution has been Bridgefy, a messaging app that has the financial and marketing backing of Twitter cofounder Biz Stone and boasts having more than 1.7 million installations. By using Bluetooth and mesh network routing, Bridgefy lets users within a few hundred meters—and much further as long as there are intermediary nodes—to send and receive both direct and group texts with no reliance on the Internet at all.


Epic Games wins temporary ruling barring Apple from retaliation

A federal judge temporarily ruled late Monday that while Apple doesn’t have to reinstate Epic Games’ Fortnite app, it cannot cut off the company’s Apple developer account or restrict the use of its Unreal gaming engine by third-party developers as it had threatened to do on Aug. 28. Why it matters: Epic Games picked a fight earlier this month with Apple over some of its strict App Store rules. The dispute has drawn other app makers critical of the iPhone maker’s stronghold on how iOS apps are distributed and taxed by Apple just as the company faces increased antitrust scrutiny.


MIT CSAIL’s RF-Diary monitors people through walls and in total darkness

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a system — RF-Diary — that they say can detect and caption the behaviors of people within a room from radio signals. They claim their approach can observe people through walls and other occlusions even in complete darkness, and that it learns to track those people’s interactions with objects like cups of water. While the work has obvious surveillance applications, a fact the researchers are aware of and built protections against, the primary motivation was developing a monitoring system for health-impaired family members. Elderly residents might suffer from memory problems that cause them to forget things like whether they took certain medications or brushed their teeth, as well as from physical ailments that make them prone to injuring themselves. RF-Diary could be configured to provide regular updates to caregivers, the coauthors say, allowing them to administer remote care while providing peace of mind.

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