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Security, hacker conferences have tech industry buzzing

Christina DesMarais | Aug. 7, 2011
Here’s a roundup of some of the stories that have technophiles buzzing.

--New threat: Hacking batteries. Security researcher Charlie Miller demonstrated how he was able to completely control the microprocessor embedded in batteries used in Apple Macintosh laptops and then remove or bypass the built-in safeguards. He suggested it would be possible to overheat a battery and start a fire by convincing a controller that the battery was discharged, even though it was completely full, but said he has not tried it and an analog fuse may prevent disaster. Read more at CNET and PCWorld.

--Why Facebook's facial recognition is creepy. Alessandro Acquisti, Ralph Gross, and Fred Stutzman showed how they took publicly available photos of students from Facebook and then used facial recognition technology to identify the students as they looked into a webcam. In another test, the researchers took photos from 277,978 Facebook profiles and compared them to profiles from an online dating Website where people don't use their real names. They were able to correctly identify 10 percent of the dating site's members using facial recognition technology. Read more.

In other Black Hat news, Microsoft announced a contest that offers more than $250,000 in prizes to security researchers who can develop better solutions to counter security threats. Conference organizers also handed out Pwnie Awards, including one to Sony for "Most Epic Fail."


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