Mykonos’s motto is two-fold.
When you think of protecting a website from hackers, the first thing that comes to mind is probably blocking them out. But what if you just let them on a wild-goose chase, feeding them nuggets of false information and leading them down dead-ends until they get fed up and go do something else?
That’s the strategy behind Mykonos Software‘s security program, which takes a “step right in, let me fetch you a cup of tea and bore you to tears” approach to protection. The tool identifies individuals who are running common searches for security weaknesses on a site, logs their information, and continues to play them for suckers by dribbling out a breadcrumb trail that appears to yield passwords and other tasty vulnerabilities, but ultimately leads nowhere. CEO David Koretz explained to Tom Simonite at Tech Review the various ways in which the software plays with attackers:
A scan that might usually take five hours could take 30, Koretz says. Other tactics include offering up dummy password files, which can help track an attacker when he or she tries to use them. “We’ll let them break the encryption and present a false login page. We have the ability to hack the hacker,” says Koretz.
Marconi and assistants erecting a radio antenna.
They call themselves hacktivists. Or they say they’re doing it just for the lulz: Some hackers take over sites, swipe users’ information, and then post their exploits online just to make the point that hey, you losers aren’t as safe as you thought you were. Better fix that gaping hole in your electronic chain link fence.
It may seem like the kind of public embarrassment only possible in the networked age (at least, Sony probably remembers the era of the Walkman a lot more fondly than this last mortifying year of being hacked again and again), but as Paul Marks writes in New Scientist, it ain’t necessarily so. Just ask Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the wireless telegraph.
The future looks green, even for bomb-detection squads: Instead of a bomb-sniffing dog at the end of a policeman’s leash, you could soon have a bomb-sniffing petunia. Scientists are now designing plants that are able to detect trace amounts of airborne TNT.
Funded in part by the Department of Defense and Homeland Security, scientists from Colorado State University reported this week that plants can be modified to change color when they detect TNT. According to their study published in the journal PLoS One, these plants’ leaves lose their chlorophyll when exposed to TNT, changing from green to white.
“It had to be simple, something your mom could recognize,” said June Medford, a professor of biology at Colorado State, referring to the idea of linking a plant’s chemical response to its color, visible to the naked eye. [New York Times]
The bomb-sniffing plants can detect much lower traces of TNT–about one-hundredth the amount–than their four-pawed co-workers can. But a changing leaf color isn’t quite as obvious as a dog’s bark, especially if you’re colorblind. TNT-detecting plants have yet another hurdle to cross before you’ll see them on the streets:
“Right now, response time is in the order of hours,” said Linda Chrisey, a program manager at the Office of Naval Research, which hopes to use the technology to help protect troops from improvised explosive devices…. Practical application, she said, requires a signal within minutes, and a natural reset system back to healthy green in fairly short order. [New York Times]
Researchers hope to have clear-signaling and fast-acting bomb-detecting plants ready for duty within the next three to seven years. Until then, our top bomb-sniffers still have fur, play fetch, and appreciate a good belly-rub.
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The best way to make a point about privacy and “invasive” body scanners at the airport–is to strip down to your underwear and then publish that video to YouTube so the whole world can see you in your nearly naked glory. Might sound strange at first, but we are covering it in Discoblog, so I guess it worked.
Warning: This video has mild nudity and so may be NSFW.
German activists from the Pirate Party thought organizing a “fleshmob” of people to strip down to their skivvies and converge on the Berlin-Tegel airport was a great idea. The activists were protesting the use of what the Germans call the Nacktscanner, or naked scanner–a body scanner that may increasingly be used for airport security, in the wake of the botched underwear bombing on Christmas Day.
Last week a band of Somali pirates hijacked a Saudi Arabian tanker in just 16 minutes using Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers. This was just one of around 100 attacks in the area this year—leaving plenty of fear that the pirates are on their way to sabotaging one of the most important sea trade routes in the world. But the days of pirate victories may soon be over, thanks to a little scientific ingenuity. A British company called Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions thinks the outlaws can be taken down using none other than a high-tech “sonic laser.”
Their plan is this: Hook up a long-range acoustic device (LRAD) to an MP3 player, and raise the volume to painful sound levels whenever pirates approach. The noise from the satellite dish-sized LRAD can get so loud that it causes permanent hearing damage. If threatened ships blast oncoming pirates with “precise beams” of warning messages, sirens, etc., it could be enough to cause “absolute agony” to any ambitious pirates, according to APMSS chief executive Nick Davis, and could make them turn back.
While anti-pirate sound doesn’t come cheap—the team and equipment costs $21,000 for three days of use—the technology is in high demand, with APMSS sending 10 teams out on on ships in the Gulf of Aden this week. Let’s just hope they’re armed with good ear plugs.
For everything you’d ever want to know about what’s going in pirate attacks, check out the Weekly Piracy Report.
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If you’re flying to Australia anytime soon, be prepared to show a lot of skin at the airport. From now until the end of November, Melbourne airport is testing out new X-ray scanners that can see through clothing and leave little to the imagination. The scanners may soon replace pat downs with “virtual strip searches,” which officials say will save time at security check points. For the trial period, only passengers who volunteer will be scanned.
The full-body scanners use low-energy X-rays that reflect off skin to provide chalky images of naked bodies. They will reveal any hidden objects, even nonmetal ones that would be bypassed by traditional metal detectors.