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2 January 2015 by Jenn Granger

Congratulations, if you’re reading this you have survived Christmas, New Year, and an ungodly amount of food, drink and family. So, back in the real world (oh hello real world), let’s find out what’s been happening!


Fingerprint cloning from pictures

Previously, the most we might’ve had to worry about from pictures was whether we’re smiling weirdly, or have our eyes closed. Well, turns out they’re now providing a new frontier in hacking. Hackers have managed to clone a German politician’s fingerprint from a photo of her taken at a conference. Jan Krissler – a member of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) hacker network – said he replicated the print of the German defence minister using photos taken from a ‘standard camera’; there was no crazy fancy tech involved (on the side of the photo itself at least!). This seems to be the first time print stealing has been done without a physical print taken off another item.

Fingerprint biometrics are now generally thought of as pretty insecure (although Apple and Samsung both use fingerprint recognition tech for security), and this kind of thing doesn’t help; the future is more likely to be in finger vein recognition – which Barclays introduced earlier this year – and other things that would be harder to forge. Krissler said that politicians will “probably wear gloves in public in future” after hearing about this.

Sony PlayStation back online

Over Xmas many of you may have gotten up early, unwrapped a new PlayStation and been excited to test it out… and instead been given the gift of downtime when the network (and Xbox Live’s too) was knocked offline by hackers. Earlier this week PlayStation got back up and running after three days offline, although there might still be some small interruptions to account for all the eager users who got PS4s for Xmas.

The Russian hacker group ‘Lizard Squad’ launched the DDoS attack against the network; which is where the victim is flooded with traffic from the hacker to overload their servers (we offer DDoS protection if you’re worried about this yourself). The group said the motivation was to get them some fame, and also raise awareness of how little security some companies have. They also might have been the rascals that helped pass on information to the Guardians of Peace group that attacked Sony’s internal network. Kim DotCom and the Anonymous group have now talked with Lizard Squad and say it’s agreed not to launch any more attacks on the networks.

The price for lying on Facebook – your mental health

According to The Independent, a poll has found that two thirds of internet users tinker with the truth about themselves online; sometimes small things – like what they’re doing – to pretty hefty things, like inventing relationships. As well as this, a whopping fifth of 18-24 year olds say their online profile is absolutely nothing like their real life. But apparently it causes more hassle than it’s probably worth, as keeping up with the lies is a hassle and often not possible (three out of ten users said they couldn’t keep up with this fake version of themselves they put online). It can also confuse the users themselves, and they get mixed up between reality and what they’ve written online.

A psychologist talking about the effects that this can have says it’s understandable but can cause problems, as we can lose ourselves to this online version, and may not recognise ourselves any more. This can cause all sorts of not-fun feelings, like guilt, paranoia and alienation. So, although it’s tempting to turn your Friday night on the sofa with Ben and Jerry’s and a trashy film into an amazing night out (on Facebook at least), maybe best just to ‘fess up, or leave it well alone!

Drones reach new heights

You can buy your dad a drone for Xmas, cause havoc with them near aeroplanes, and at some point potentially receive your deliveries via them – but the next step for the tech right now looks like it will be drone helicopters, brought to you by the US Navy.

The first unmanned helicopters have been successfully landed on small fast-moving destroyer vessels for the first time, which is pretty dexterous work! The Navy says they won’t use them for warfare though – it’s more likely to be carrying heavy items and rescue missions. Emerging tech like this has so much potential, let’s hope it’s used for the power of good!

This nan was not happy with her new iPhone, until…

What have you seen this week that’s worth sharing?

Have a great first weekend of 2015!