Weekly Digital News Roundup: June 11 – June 15
The Houston Astros were an easy hacking target: Someone reportedly reused an old password
- The St. Louis Cardinals have dominated on the diamond in recent decades. But now the FBI is investigating whether team officials hacked into the network of a rival team, potentially accessing game-changing information such as proprietary statistics, scouting reports and trade discussions.
- The investigation uncovered evidence that Cardinals staff members broke into a network belonging to the Houston Astros, the team’s division rivals from 1994 to 2012. But the alleged cyberespionage wasn’t the result of some elaborate hacking scheme, investigators told the Times. Instead, the humble password may have been the Astros’ weak point.
- The Astros hired former Cardinals executive Jeff Luhnow as general manager in 2011. St. Louis team officials became suspicious that Luhnow had taken proprietary information with him to Houston. The investigators believe team officials then examined a master list of passwords used by Luhnow and other staff members he had recruited to his new team. It’s those passwords that allowed the unnamed Cardinal officials to gain access to the Astro network. It’s unclear how the person or people responsible for the breach gained access to a login page for the Astro system, but it may have been set up in a similar manner to the Cardinal system.
No, It’s Samsung, Not Swiftkey, That Is To Blame For This Keyboard Security Scare
- The media is blowing up right now at a startup called Swiftkey which was named in an announcement at a Black Hat conference about a bug in most Samsung smartphones that could allow hackers to attack the phone and spy on users.
- Researchers at cybersecurity firm NowSecure found the a bug in many Samsung smartphones last fall. Although Samsung told NowSecure in March that it had sent wireless carriers a fix which could be transmitted to the phones, and not to go public on it for three months, Samsung did nothing about it. So NowSecure went and bought two new Samsung Galaxy S6’s from Verizon and Sprint and found they were still vulnerable to the security hole.
- The reason UK startup Swiftkey has been fingered in all this is because the hole is related to how the phone accepts data when updating keyboard software. Swiftkey’s keyboard has been embedded in many Samsung phones because its Artificial Intelligence is astounding at predicting what words you are about to type, thus making typing on a smartphone far easier and faster.
- Swiftkey is not to blame here and vulnerability is unrelated to SwiftKey’s consumer apps on Google Play and the Apple App Store.
Nest Cam is here, but the ‘Internet of Things’ still isn’t
- Nest, one of the most recognizable names in home automation, unveiled a welcome refresh of its product line here Wednesday. There’s slightly smarter software for the thermostat, a slightly thinner, slightly smarter version of the smoke alarm — the $99 Nest Protect — and a slightly thinner, slightly smarter, heavily rebranded version of the Dropcam, now the $199 Nest Cam.
- Which is all to the good. These are consumer-friendly products that help us to save energy (enough to power 30,000 homes a year, Nest says), save lives (no more removing your smoke alarm because of its incessant dumb beeping) and protect our families (or at least allow you to shout at your dog to get off the couch, remotely).
- But at the same time, the minimal and incremental nature of this Nest event inadvertently displayed the main problem with home automation and the long-promised “Internet of Things.” These three products talk to each other well enough — but not much else. Of course, Google — Nest’s owner — would like other smart home devices to talk to all these Nest gadgets. Tony Fadell, Nest’s CEO, made a brief mention of Weave, a programming language Google unveiled last month at its I/O conference, and said Nest products will support it.