Keyless Systems of Older VW Group Cars Can Be Hacked

Keyless Systems of Older VW Group Cars Can Be Hacked: Study

Tens of millions of vehicles sold by Volkswagen AG over the past 20 years are vulnerable to theft because keyless entry systems can be hacked using cheap technical devices, according to European researchers.

Computer security experts at the University of Birmingham have published a paper outlining how they were able to clone VW remote keyless entry controls by eavesdropping nearby when drivers press their key fobs to open or lock up their cars.

Vehicles vulnerable to this attack include most Audi, VW, Seat and Skoda models sold since 1995 and many of the approximately 100 million VW Group vehicles on the road since then, the researchers said. The flaw was found in car models as recent as the Audi Q3, model year 2016, they added.

“It is conceivable that all VW Group (except for some Audi) cars manufactured in the past and partially today rely on a ‘constant-key’ scheme and are thus vulnerable to the attacks,” the paper argues.

The only exception the researchers found were cars built on VW’s latest MQB production platform, which is used in its top selling model, the Golf VII, which they found does not have the keyless flaw.

 A VW spokesman said that the current Golf, Tiguan, Touran and Passat models are not vulnerable to the attack.

“This current vehicle generation is not afflicted by the problems described,” VW spokesman Peter Weisheit said in a statement, without commenting on the risks to other models.

In their published paper, the researchers did not identify the auto parts subcontractor responsible for manufacturing the affected keyless systems for VW and potentially other car makers. VW declined to comment on its supplier relationships.

The disclosures come as Europe’s largest automaker struggles to overcome its biggest-ever corporate scandal, after it admitted to manipulating diesel emissions tests in about 11 million vehicles globally.

Other car makers vulnerable
Attackers can use cheap and widely available tools for grabbing radio signals, according to the three researchers from the University of Birmingham in central England and a fourth affiliated with the University of Bochum in Germany.

Cars from other manufacturers may share these flaws, including some model years of the Ford Galaxy, the security researchers said.

A spokesman for Ford Europe had no immediate comment.

The reports’ authors said they had focused on mass-market models and did not analyse in detail VW’s luxury brands including Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti.

Researchers including University of Birmingham computer science lecturer Flavio Garcia said they disclosed their findings to VW Group from November and met the company and the subcontractor involved in February.

VW Group received a draft and a final copy of the research paper before publication and have acknowledged the vulnerabilities, the authors said.

The Wolfsburg-based automaker confirmed it has had a constructive exchange with the researchers and that they had agreed to withhold details that savvy criminals could use to break into cars.

In 2013, VW obtained a restraining order against a group of researchers including Garcia to prevent publication of a paper detailing how anti-theft car immobilisers used by more than 20 different automakers were vulnerable to hacker attacks.

That research was eventually published in 2015 after the authors agreed with VW to remove a pivotal detail that would have allowed low-tech thieves to figure out how to carry out the attack.

The latest paper, entitled “Lock It and Still Lose It: On the (In)Security of Automotive Remote Keyless Entry Systems” is scheduled to be presented at the prestigious Usenix computer security conference in Austin, Texas, on Friday.

No Man’s Sky Is So Huge That Players Found 10 Million Species in 1 Night

No Man's Sky Is So Huge That Players Found 10 Million Species in 1 Night

In a March 2007 TED talk, Edward O. Wilson, the Harvard University scientist famous for studying ants, took to the stage to plead for what he described as a biological moonshot: a catalogue of all the known life forms on the planet.

“I wish we will work together to help create the key tools that we need to inspire preservation of Earth’s biodiversity,” he said. “And let us call it the ‘Encyclopedia of Life.’” Wilson was not the first to have the idea, but his vision caught on. When the Encyclopedia of Life launched online in 2008, it boasted an impressive 30,000 pages. The encyclopedia has been increasing by the tens of thousands of species per year. The steady march to a goal of 1.8 million known species will take an estimated decade to complete.

Since Tuesday, virtual explorers – unconstrained by grant applications or taxonomic rigor – have been amassing their own version of the encyclopedia in the video game No Man’s Sky. The gamers left Wilson and company in the dust. Overnight, players discovered some 10 million different alien species in the galaxy, Sean Murray, co-founder of the British game developer Hello Games, wrote on Twitter. (If only zoologists could wiggle a cursor at critters they stumbled upon in the field.)

But Murray and his colleagues did not animate video game aliens by the millions – instead, their galaxy is populated via a constantly churning computer program.

Murray tweeted, “For instance over night we hit 10 million species discovered in NMS… that’s more than has been discovered on earth.WHAT IS GOING ON!!!”

The space exploration and survival simulator hosts 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets. In the game, playable on the PlayStation 4 and coming to PCs on Friday, the goal is nothing beyond galactic expedition, a la Captain Kirk or Spaceman Spiff. Some of the 18 quintillion worlds in No Man’s Sky are barren. (Boredom is, perhaps, the most damning critique of the days-old game.) Others are toxic. The lushest worlds teem with tentacled dinosaurs, giant worms or aggressive chipmunk-faced goats. The large majority of the planets and creatures inhabiting the digital galaxy will remain sight unseen by humans.

No Man’s Sky marks a watershed moment in video games – a vast galaxy, immense hype and a small team of indie programmers. To make the galaxy tick, at the heart of No Man’s Sky beats a process called procedural generation. The grunt work is done by computer. It is as if Hello Games created a Lego model of the Milky Way, but only by fabricating the bricks and the rules by which the blocks snap together.

“It’s a bit like leaving your game uncompleted, and teaching the software to finish designing itself while someone is playing,” Mike Cook, an expert on the technique at Falmouth University, told Rolling Stone.

To pull off this trick, No Man’s Sky, as the New Yorker reported in 2015, leans on the so-called Superformula, an algorithm discovered by botanist Johan Gielis. (Possibly, to Gielis’s company, it leans too heavily.) The Superformula describes both symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes, like rocks or snowflakes or sheep horns. “It’s a new way of describing nature,” Gielis told Nature in 2003.

The game’s life forms are a series of chimeras, organs remixed over and over by the algorithmic engine. “The engine basically checks certain parameters, asks itself what kind of animal would like the surrounding, and chooses between a variety of types. Fairly often common animals are combined – like they have the body of a lion, but the head of a rhino and the legs of a gazelle,” Murray said in a recent interview with Inverse. “We’ve invented a system that automatically balances out the weight and adjusts the skeleton. So we had to experiment a ton, to get these skeletons right, because an animal with a tiny body can’t have a huge head, otherwise it would constantly fall over.”

Any given interaction between species is unscripted, but life-like scenarios can emerge. Once, Grant Duncan, the art director for Hello Games, began shooting strange birds out of an alien sky. (This being a space game, players in No Man’s Sky have laser guns.) One fried body landed on the surface of a ocean. A shark-like animal, as he recounted to the Atlantic, emerged from the depths of the sea to feed on the corpse.

“The first time it happened,” Duncan said, “it totally blew me away.”

Murray is correct that No Man’s Sky explorers have outpaced real-life biologists – to a point. The total number of species that exist on Earth is a matter of some debate, typically thought to land between 3 million and 100 million. Including microbes, that number may reach to about one trillion, as The Washington Post reported in May. A previous well-regarded estimate in 2011 put animal species at about 7.77 million; if so, some 86 percent of land-dwelling species remain undiscovered. Researchers behind that study suggested that completing such a catalogue would require 300,000 taxonomists, cost billions of dollars and take over a thousand years.

Though specialized taxonomists are dwindling in favor of geneticists – the Smithsonian’s six research entomologists were twice as numerous in 1970, curator Terry Erwin told The Post in 2011 – there is some good news for counting earthly organisms. Accounting for professional biologists as well as amateur naturalists, roughly 50,000 people around the globe are describing new species, more than any point in history.

Foxconn Gets Green Light From China’s Antitrust Regulator for Sharp Deal

Foxconn Gets Green Light From China's Antitrust Regulator for Sharp Deal

Taiwanese tech giant Hon Hai said antitrust authorities in China had approved its takeover of ailing Japanese electronics maker Sharp, clearing the last obstacle to the drawn-out deal.

The purchase, which was supposed to close last month, has reportedly been held up by China – one of the countries that was reviewing the deal over concerns that it could lead to a monopoly on LCD screens.

Hon Hai gains Sharp’s cutting-edge LCD panel technologywith the $3.5-billion buyout, giving it a 66 percent controlling stake.

“Our application for antitrust review in various regions is completed,” the company said in a statement to the Taiwan stock exchange late Thursday.

“Both sides will carry out the handover procedures as soon as possible according to the contract,” it said.

The announcement fulfills an ambition of Hon Hai founder Terry Gou, whose firm first pursued Sharpfour years ago.

Gou’s company – also known as Foxconn – is the world’s biggest electronics supplier, with Apple a key customer for smartphone components.

 But the smartphone giant is squeezing its suppliers as sales of its iPhones slow, dropping 15 percent last quarter year-on-year.

Hon Hai shares slumped in Taipei Friday on weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings.

“From the results, we can see that Apple is pressuring its supply chain on prices,” Fubon analysts led by Arthur Liao said in a note.

Hon Hai said Thursday that its net profit dropped 31 percent to TWD 17.7 billion ($565 million) in the April-June period, the third straight quarterly decline.

It missed the TWD 24.6 billion estimate by analysts polled by Bloomberg News.

Shares slumped 3.69 percent Friday. underperforming the benchmark index.

Analysts are expecting better performance in the third quarter, when Apple’s new iPhone 7 series is rumoured to be launched.

Microsoft Buys Interactive Game Streaming Startup Beam

Microsoft Buys Interactive Game Streaming Startup Beam
  • Beam will become part of the team at Microsoft for its Xbox consoles
  • “As part of Xbox, we’ll be able to scale faster than we’ve ever been able to before”
  • The deal’s amount is not known though

Microsoft on Thursday said it is bolstering its Xbox arsenal with the purchase of a startup specializing in letting people join in the fun while watching live-streamed game play.

Microsoft did not disclose financial terms of the deal to buy Seattle-based Beam, which puts an interactive spin on the hot trend of video games being spectator sports.

“With Beam, you don’t just watch your favorite streamer play, you play along with them,” Xbox Live partner group program manager Chad Gibson said in a blog post.

For example, Beam can be used to let viewers assign missions, summon adversaries, or select virtual gear in games being streamed online by broadcasters.

Beam, which launched in January of this year, will become part of the team at Microsoft devoted to the technology titan’s Xbox consoles.

“As part of Xbox, we’ll be able to scale faster than we’ve ever been able to before,” Beam co-founder and chief executive Matt Salsamendi said in an online post.

“We’re continuing our focus on providing streamers with the tools they need to create the most interactive broadcasts around.”

Among the big trends on display at the premier Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June was the rise of the celebrity player.

Appetite on sites like Twitch and YouTube Gaming for play video, commentary, trailers, and more seems insatiable, industry insiders say.

“There are hundreds of millions of users watching gaming content every month,” YouTube global head of gaming content Ryan Wyatt told AFP at E3.

YouTube Gaming, a version of the Alphabet-owned video-sharing service tailored as a one-stop shop for game lovers, launched with a website and mobile application in August 2015.

Now, billions of hours of gaming content are watched monthly at the service – and that number is rising, Wyatt said.

Amazon-owned lets anyone broadcast game related content and allows them to connect with publishers or advertisers.

US online retail giant Amazon snatched up Twitch and its huge audience in 2014. The purchase was one of the largest in Amazon’s history – $970 million in cash for the three-year-old Internet company.

There is a direct correlation between people watching video games and buying them, according to Twitch and YouTube.


Airtel Acquires Spectrum in 7 Circles in Trading Deal With Aircel

  • Airtel Acquires Spectrum in 7 Circles in Trading Deal With AircelAirtel signed a deal to acquire Aircel’s 4G spectrum for 8 circles in April
  • DoT approved the spectrum sharing deal between the telcos last month
  • The spectrum is valid till September 20, 2030

Bharti Airtel has acquired the rights to use Aircel’s Odisha circle, with which it completed rights to use 4G airwaves of Aircel in seven out of eight circles in the spectrum trading deal between the companies.

“The acquisition of rights to use 20MHz 2300 Band BWA spectrum from Aircel, Bharti Airtel has now informed BSE that the proposed transaction has been successfully concluded for Odisha circle following the receipt of all necessary approvals and satisfying all the conditions (including conditions stated in the spectrum trading guidelines),” a regulatory filing by the company said on Thursday.

“With this, the company has completed the transaction in 7 out of 8 circles namely Tamil Nadu (including Chennai); Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, North East and Odisha,” the filing with the BSE said.

Bharti Airtel announced on April 8 it has entered into a definitive agreement with Aircel to acquire its 4G airwaves in eight circles for Rs. 3,500 crores through a spectrum trading deal.

“Bharti Airtel and its subsidiary, Bharti Hexacom have entered into a definitive agreements with Aircel and its subsidiaries Dishnet Wireless and Aircel Cellular to acquire rights to use 20MHz of 2300 band 4G spectrum for eight circles for an aggregate consideration of Rs. 3,500 crores,” the company earlier said in a statement.

The eight circles are Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, North East, Andhra Pradesh and Odissa.

The spectrum is valid till September 20, 2030.

With this acquisition, the company will become a pan India 4G operator, the statement added.

‘Self-Driving’ in Spotlight Again as China Sees First Tesla Autopilot Crash

'Self-Driving' in Spotlight Again as China Sees First Tesla Autopilot Crash

Tesla said on Wednesday that one of its cars had crashed in Beijing while in ‘autopilot’ mode, with the driver contending sales staff sold the function as ‘self-driving’, overplaying its actual capabilities.

Tesla said it had reviewed data to confirm the car was in autopilot mode, a system that takes control of steering and braking in certain conditions.

The company, which is investigating the crash in China’s capital last week, also said it was the driver’s responsibility to maintain control of the vehicle. In this case, it said, the driver’s hands were not detected on the steering wheel.

The crash, Tesla’s first known such incident in China, comes months after a fatal accident in Florida, which turned up pressure on auto industry executives and regulators to tighten rules on automated driving technology.

A 33-year-old programmer at a tech firm, Luo Zhen was driving to work and engaged the autopilot function as he often does on Beijing’s highways, he told Reuters in his first interview with international media.

Luo, who filmed the incident with a dashboard camera, said his car hit a vehicle parked half off the road. The accident sheered off the parked vehicle’s side mirror and scraped both cars, but caused no injuries.

 “The driver of the Tesla, whose hands were not detected on the steering wheel, did not steer to avoid the parked car and instead scraped against its side,” a Tesla spokeswoman said in an emailed response to Reuters.

“As clearly communicated to the driver in the vehicle, autosteer is an assist feature that requires the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel at all times, to always maintain control and responsibility for the vehicle, and to be prepared to take over at any time.”

Luo, however, blamed the crash on a fault in the autopilot system and said Tesla’s sales staff strongly promoted the system as ‘self-driving’.

“The impression they give everyone is that this is self-driving, this isn’t assisted driving,” he said. Interviews with four other unconnected Tesla drivers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou also indicated the message conveyed by front-line sales staff did not match up with Tesla’s more clear cut statements that the system is not “self-driving” but an advance driver assistance system (ADAS).

These Tesla owners all said salespeople described the cars’ function in Chinese as “self-driving”, a term the company generally avoids using in English, and took their hands off the wheel while demonstrating it.

“They all described it as being able to drive itself,” said Shanghai resident Mao Mao, who bought a Tesla Model S last year.

The term “zidong jiashi” appears several times on Tesla’s Chinese portal, which is most literally translated to mean “self-driving”. It is also the term for airplane autopilot, leaving room for confusion among consumers.

“We have never described autopilot as an autonomous technology or a ‘self-driving car,’ and any third-party descriptions to this effect are not accurate,” the Tesla spokeswoman said.

China woes
Tesla does not regularly announce its sales data for China, where it has faced tough local competition, and it is not clear how many cars in the country have autopilot, an add-on feature that costs more than 27,000 yuan ($4,000) extra.

The company struggled to sell its high-tech electric cars in China at first due to distribution issues and widespread concerns about charging vehicles.

There is no clear regulation on self-driving cars in China as the country is in the midst of drafting its policy toward the technology. Under current Chinese law, drivers must keep two hands on the wheel at all times.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology did not respond to faxed questions asking about the legality of self-driving cars, including Tesla’s autopilot function. The Ministry of Transportation did not reply to a request for comment.

Unsatisfied with Tesla’s initial response to his crash, Luo posted pictures and a video of the crash on Chinese social media platform Weibo describing the incident and criticizing the company.

The pictures show damages to his blue Tesla Model S and a parked Volkswagen, while the dashboard camera video captures the lead up to the crash and the car subsequently stopping.

Luo, who said he had used autopilot for more than a month, said he was looking at his phone or the in-car navigation at the time of the accident, only looking up every several seconds – but blamed Tesla’s hard sell.

“They use this immature technology as a sales and promotion tactic…but they don’t take responsibility for the safety of the function,” he said.

Tesla does provide safeguards. If a driver has not touched the wheel in a certain amount of time, the autopilot system will remind drivers to place their hands on the wheel and will automatically come to a stop if drivers do not heed the warning.

Micromax Launches a New Range of Smart LED TVs Starting

Micromax Launches a New Range of Smart LED TVs Starting at Rs. 19,999
  • Micromax has launched a new range of smart TVs starting at Rs. 19,999
  • The TVs come with a smart operating system and Google Play Store pre-loaded
  • The range will be available to buy exclusively on Flipkart

Micromax has launched its new Canvas range of smart TVs, making them available in three different size options. The 32-inch variant will cost Rs. 19,999, the 40-inch variant will be priced at Rs. 29,999 and the 50-inch option will be available for Rs. 42,999. All three TVs will be available to buy exclusively on Flipkart from Tuesday onwards.

The new Micromax Canvas TV range will offer wireless control using a smartphone, making it possible to use your phone’s screen as a mouse trackpad for the TV. The smart TV operating system also features access to Google Play, which comes preloaded on the TV. Using Wi-Fi connectivity, it’s possible to surf the Internet and use specific applications directly through the TV itself. The range also comes with smart features such as Miracast, Mi Connect, and Home-share, which claim to enhance the connected TV experience.

Commenting on the launch, Mr. Rohan Agarwal, Vice President, Consumer Electronics, Micromax Informatics said, “The world of television is constantly changing, with more choices and more connected devices than ever before. We have witnessed a growing trend among the consumers to look for seamless transition between multiple connected screens in their everyday lives. Hence, we are revolutionizing the home entertainment experience with launch of our first Micromax Canvas Smart LED Television range for the people to discover sharper and smarter cinematic and connected experience.”

Speaking on the launch, Sandeep Karwa – Head – TV & Large Appliances at Flipkart, said, “Flipkart has always aimed at providing a seamless experience to its consumers, working towards widening its reach as well as building on its product portfolio to offer the best experience to the consumer. The launch of its first Smart LED TV range- Micromax Canvas Smart LED TV, which will be exclusively available on Flipkart, has further consolidated our partnership with Micromax. We are excited to be the online platform for consumers amidst the technological transformation of home entertainment and provide them with a fulfilling and affordable shopping experience. We are certain that the new range of smart TVs by Micromax will receive a positive response and we look forward to continuing this partnership and focus on driving our efforts to consolidate this partnership further.”

Micromax had last year launched its first smart 4K TVs, including the 50K2330 UHD TV. The company will hope to build on its market share in the television segment, with a goal of holding 12 pecent of the market share for smart TVs by next year.