GPS satellite networks are easy targets for hackers

A pivotal network of GPS satellites doesn’t properly guard its communication, making devices back on Earth susceptible to hacking, according to new research.

globalstar satellite network

This is an artist’s depiction of Globalstar satellites launched in 2010.

Lots of companies — everything ranging from overseas shipping containers to oil drilling rigs — use location data beamed from GPS trackers to ensure that equipment never goes off course.

But Colby Moore, a researcher with cybersecurity firm Synack, has found that it’s easy to crack Globalstar’s GPS satellite network. This is a company that bills itself as “the world’s most modern satellite network.”

GPS trackers beam data to satellites, which send them back to base stations on Earth. Using cheap hardware and small planes, Colby successfully intercepted and decoded data — none of which was encrypted.

He also found that there are no safeguards to check that data is shared only between real trackers and base stations. With that access, Moore was able to decode the transmissions and create fake GPS data.

The result? High-tech thieves could steal a freight truck full of precious cargo without setting off alarms. Rescuers responding to a sinking cruise ship could be redirected far away from the actual wreckage.

Aviation is especially at risk. Lots of planes transmit their location using Globalstar’s system, especially now that the organization that collects pilots’ flight plans, Lockheed Martin (LMT) Flight Service, signed a deal with the satellite company in June.

A spokesman for Lockheed Martin did not respond to a request for comment.

A hacker’s faked plane GPS signals could cause chaos at an airport that expects a plane to land — but can’t spot anything on radar.

Moore will present his findings at the Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas next week.

Globalstar (GSAT) did not acknowledge the flaw — or say whether it plans to actually start encrypting its communication.

“This type of situation has never been an issue to date,” said company representative Allison Hoffman. Globalstar said it would know if its systems were under attack. But this hack doesn’t technically attack Globalstar’s systems — it only fools them.

In today’s world, lack of encryption with sensitive communication is unacceptable. Encryption is required in all electronic banking, and it’s expected in email, texting, and even casual Web browsing.

Globalstar’s problem could be a result of old technology. The company had already launched 40 satellites into space by late 1999, when encryption was an afterthought. Plus, encryption adds to the size of data being transmitted — and in space, bandwidth is expensive, especially 20 years ago.

Moore said the only fix would be to add security features to new devices on Earth. But there are currently 649,000 Globalstar customers with devices whose software will be difficult — or impossible — to upgrade.

Article Provided by: CNN Money

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6 ways you can use 3-D printers too grow your business

3-D Printer – Prototypes

Prototyping with 3-D Printers saves money.

New York-based Spuni sells a modified baby spoon that eases an infant’s transition to solid food. By using 3-D printers, the company had their first prototypes within months, at a fraction of what traditional manufacturers would have charged, said CEO Marcel Botha.

The team tweaked the design more than 30 times, making separate prototypes for each. It takes mere hours to create a Spuni prototype on a 3-D printer, allowing them to test far more variations, which Botha says results in a better product. The company’s first spoon came to market early in 2013.

The team invested in its own 3-D printer late in 2012, spending about $2,000 on one sold by MakerBot, which is now owned by Stratasys (SSYS). It costs Spuni about $5 to print one spoon. Botha estimates he would spend 10 times that if he used a traditional manufacturer.

Although its flagship spoons are mass produced, Spuni continues to use 3-D printers for work on new products and packaging. The company recently moved to a facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard called New Lab, where there are a few additional 3-D printers the team can use.

Design advanced technology

Dan Clark makes high-end headphones that can’t be manufactured using conventional technology. To improve sound quality, he created an intricate design with such detailed parts they have to be made individually. So MrSpeakers’ San Diego headquarters has 10 printers running at a time, all printing actual parts used in its Alpha Dog headphones.

Clark launched MrSpeakers in April 2012 with the Mad Dog headphones, which are manufactured using conventional technology. But with his next product, Clark, an electrical engineer, wanted to try something different. He bought 10 printers at about $1,600 each and started making the Alpha Dogs earlier this year.

It takes about 13 hours to print each headphone set, and Clark and his team of five put each through a finishing process that includes sand and chemical treatments. The extra time is worth it: Clark charges $600 for each set of headphones.

“We have a higher price point, so we can put the labor in to make it beautiful,” he said. “And the technical advantage is so great, it’s worth going through the effort.”

How about opening a printing store.

When Liza Wallach and her husband opened their 3-D printing store in October 2013, some people wandered in looking for a place to make photocopies, while others wanted 3-D movie glasses. But now, business owners and hobbyists come to HoneyBee3D to print things like prototypes and promotional materials. Other patrons are looking for a singularly unique item, like a personalized wedding cake topper.

And the shop, located in Oakland, Calif., won’t just print your projects, the cost of which depends on the size and materials used. They also sell 3-D printers and offer weekly classes on how the devices work, which Wallach says are usually filled to the six-person maximum.

3-D printing options like HoneyBee3D are growing. You can upload files to online service Shapeways, which will print your object and ship it to you, and some UPS locations have 3-D printers in their stores. MakerBot has three retail locations on the East Coast where you can buy printers and 3-D printed gifts, as well as take classes.

HoneyBee3D printing has plans too expand is business in the Bay area in the future.

Secure a patent3-D Printer can model patent designs

Richard Baker, president of New England Intellectual Property, helps inventors acquire, sell and license patents for electrical and mechanical devices. Sometimes a client’s pending patent includes drawings but Baker doesn’t get an actual prototype — that’s when he puts his 3-D printer to work.

Inventors aren’t required to provide a patent model, but it helps Baker to see the physical object when consulting on a patent application. If it’s not described accurately, the applicant may end up with a patent for a different invention. Plus, he said a prototype helps lure investors.

Baker takes the text and drawings and translates them into a file that a 3-D printer can read. He then sends the printed object to the inventor to confirm the design. If Baker’s model is off, he’ll try again.

“It makes it a lot easier to know exactly what the inventor is talking about,” Baker said. “I need to see something real.”

Make home improvements

Caroline de Gruchy and Clive Bilewitz, owners of Home Inspections Squared, have been doing home improvements for the past 15 years, but they’ve recently found a new way to make repairs.

Sometimes a replacement part for a broken chain or lock just can’t be found in a store. That used to force homeowners to buy a whole new set of blind or windows.

“They sell the most common item, and sometimes we need a uncommon item,” de Gruchy said.

The team, located in Kitchener, Canada, uses a 3-D printer to make that uncommon part.

They take the broken piece home, scan it with their 3-D scanner, make the repair virtually and then print a new piece with a 3-D printer (they use one at a local tech lab). For now, their replacement parts are just printed in plastic, but they’re hopeful future advancements will allow printing in new materials, so they can fix pieces for pipes as well.

Create custom products

3-D printers allowed graphic designer Patrick Durgin-Bruce to launch a new business in 2013. Mymo sells necklaces, keychains and ornaments that customers personalize with any two letters or numbers.

The monogrammed mini-sculptures are created in stainless steel, silver or ceramic by 3-D printers, which make it possible for Mymo to offer more than 2,000 different designs. You can’t offer that many possibilities using traditional manufacturing, Durgin-Bruce said.

But he doesn’t own any 3-D printers, instead paying Shapeways to print each order. He has to wait two to three weeks before the product is shipped to him at Mymo’s Manhattan office where he does any final assembly and packaging.

He charges $75 for the keychains and ornaments, $75 for a stainless steel necklace, $160 for a sterling silver necklace and $275 for one made of hand polished silver.

Durgin-Bruce is planning to expand his product line by offering other jewelry items, but says it would likely be a long time before he bought his own 3-D printer due to the overhead and maintenance costs. A high-end 3-D printer can cost thousands of dollars and more than one machine is needed to print in different materials.

Article Provided by: CNN Money

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Wi-Fi Sense, why this Windows 10 feature is freaking everyone out

Windows 10 includes a new feature called Wi-Fi Sense, which is making some folks uneasy.

Windows 10, Wi-Fi Sense

Windows 10 – Wi-Fi Sense allows you to automatically log your friends onto your Wi-Fi network without ever giving them your password. It’s a convenient solution to the awkward “what’s your Wi-Fi password?” conversations.

In turn, you can use Wi-Fi Sense to automatically connect your Windows 10 PC to your friends’ Wi-Fi networks without knowing their passwords.

Sounds safer than telling them your password, which you probably use for your bank and email accounts, right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Why Wi-Fi Sense is safe

Microsoft enables Wi-Fi Sense by default on Windows 10, but it doesn’t share your networks by default. You have to actively choose to share your Wi-Fi network by clicking a box that says “Share network with my contacts” when logging in.

When you share your network, all of your Facebook (FBTech30) friends as well as your Skype and contacts will be able to automatically log onto your Wi-Fi network when their Windows 10 PCs are in range. With Wi-Fi Sense, they don’t need to enter a password to log on (if they have a Mac, iPhone or Android device, you’ll still have to give up your password).

And when your friends connect via Wi-Fi Sense, they won’t then, in turn, be able to share your network with their friends.

Wi-Fi Sense stores your Wi-Fi network password on a Microsoft server. It’s encrypted, so if a hacker were to break in, your password would appear as garbled text. And Windows 10 does not allow you to share access to corporate Wi-Fi networks that use special security protocols.

Why Wi-Fi Sense is a potential security threat

But what about that contact turned stalker? Do you want that person to have access to your network? Wi-Fi Sense doesn’t allow you to share your network with an individual — it’s either all your contacts or none of them.

When people gain access to your network, all kinds of bad things can happen: They can potentially hack into other devices connected to that network, including your computer and smartphone. They can potentially steal data off your devices, including photos, emails and other personal information.

Microsoft claims that if you share your home Wi-Fi network via Wi-Fi Sense, your contacts won’t have access to other computers, devices or files stored on your network. That’s accomplished by turning off a feature called “network discovery,” preventing your friends’ computers from seeing the other computers and gadget connected signed into your Wi-Fi network. That makes it more difficult — not impossible — for your hacker friend to steal your stuff.

A Microsoft spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Should you stop using it?

You’re probably safe using Wi-Fi Sense.

All these nightmare scenarios are possible … but farfetched. Even the worst-case scenario — a stalker using Wi-Fi Sense to steal your naked photos — would require that person to sit outside your house with a Windows 10 PC while he hacks into your network.

But if you do want to protect those naked photos and you shared your network via Wi-Fi Sense you can stop that. Windows 10 lets you do that in settings (it takes a few days to register). You can also opt your network out of Wi-Fi Sense entirely by adding the phrase “_optout” to the end of your Wi-Fi network’s name.

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