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As a media box, my personal requirements are to use Kodi (formerly XBMC) as a media center, and Netflix for online streaming. I’m happy to report that both ran very smoothly, with no noticeable lag or buffering issues. Sound was also delivered seamlessly, which runs over the same HDMI output.Also tested was the great Blizzard game Hearthstone, which ran rather smoothly at the lower settings. This is not a gaming device by any stretch, unless you’re using Steam or Xbox via Windows 10 for streaming a game.Although the device ships with Windows 8.1 (with Bing, don’t forget about Bing!) I performed a fresh install of Windows 10, and after applying the official drivers from Intel which are already publicly available, the ICS was up and running.The ICS costs US$149 or $110 for the Ubuntu box, which isn’t particularly expensive. As a comparison an entry level Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) mini-PC powered by a dual core Celeron CPU is about the same price as the Windows ICS, but you’ll still need to provide your own storage, RAM and operating system with a NUC … along with a HDMI cable if you’re planning to plug it into your television.

The NUC vs ICS comparison has pros and cons on each side. ICS wins in the following areas; plug and play, ease of use, portability and price. The NUC wins with hardware flexibility, power and connectivity through USB 3.0 ports, and a nice front facing infra-red sensor if you want to bring your own remote control.This device sits in a strange place between a desktop and laptop. It doesn’t have the power of the desktop, but also doesn’t have the use anywhere benefit of a laptop. It also doesn’t have it’s own screen when compared to a low end Windows tablet, which would provide similar performance.There are reasonable use cases, providing a cheaper solution that can be controlled like any other PC which is a big benefit when worrying about implementing new deployment and management technologies or systems. These use cases are limited though, as the device doesn’t scale well or have any outstanding strengths beyond its plug and play approach, when comparing different solutions to a problem.For my personal use, this stick will live behind the lounge TV, serving up all the TV shows and movies I’d ever want – but only by Ethernet.

The cause of those who feel that information wants to be free, and that academic research should always be, have a new tool: a guide to defeating tracking traps that could identify document leakers.An activist using the alias Storm Harding (@StormHarding) told the Chaos Communications Camp in Zehdenick, Germany, his "purely-imaginative framework" showcases the tactics publishers take to identify possible leakers."Remember this is serious business; people are getting arrested for sharing information."Elsevier has filed a John Doe lawsuit against (academic file sharing network) SciHub and Libgen is also under attack with the High Court blocking access in the United Kingdom."Harding says authors should be contacted before publishing, and asked for permission to broadly distribute their work, but argues the literature should be published with or without approval.Activists, notably the late Aaron Swartz, have argued that academic works should be freely and widely accessible online so that disadvantaged people can access the literature and not just those privileged enough to have access to libraries.Swartz was arrested in 2011 after he siphoned 4.8 million academic works from the JSTOR repository. He was caught when he returned to a server cabinet where his laptop was connected.

Harding goes to some length defending the position of obtaining copyright scientific works, dubbing his methods "extra- and non- legal" means to obtain unethically-restricted works.However, the debate ultimately centres on whether the targeted information should be free and the latest work is an arrow in the quiver of activists prepared to break laws to steal academic work.Harding’s popular lecture detailed the watermarking and metadata techniques used to identify works and listed tools that can identify and circumvent both mechanisms.He said copyright works contain digital protection mechanisms including various metadata that will identify leakers and prevent printing or editing. Adobe’s LifeLock for example requires a connection to a defined server in order for its protected documents to be read.Harding recommends pirates research existing "document liberation" guides to mitigate the protections; these may include using brute-force PDF password guessing and manipulation tools, and tricks such as spoofing LifeLock’s required server to localhost to gain document reading access.Some documents for example contain IP address watermarking that can only be removed by re-printing margins such that the watermarks are permanently cropped out.Much more clandestine watermarks which exist but have not been yet deployed include Natural Language Watermarking which modifies a document’s text.This advanced tactic means any single phrase in a document can be restructured so that a unique document is served to readers. This forces pirates to make document comparison checks using online services to detection manipulation.

Publishers may also serve documents with manipulated spacing between characters, lines, and paragraphs, however Harding says this is mitigated by dumping to plain text.Harding warns against using Adobe’s built-in metadata scrubbing tool which he calls "a lie" on account of it not scrubbing the UUID parameters that identify sources.Those "dangerous" UUIDs lead to the 1999 arrest of the Melissa virus author who was busted after the field was plucked from a compromised Word document.Many more potential forensic tricks not discussed exist including steganography in which watermarks could be hidden in images.OPSEC
Operating security is king, Harding added. This means pirates should avoid renting books from physical libraries they plan to scan and upload because they risk being tied to the crime through their library card.Open computer library terminals are preferred if libraries must be accessed and documents cannot be obtained from online assets.Harding warns pirates to exercise avoid Swartz’s mistake and "never return to the same feeding hole". If restricted areas require access, pirates should use social engineering to access restricted areas, taping up swipe card slot for example, so that they do not leave records.

He recommends they avoid uploading pinched documents from their home or academic networks, and should wind back document timestamps and wait some days before uploading in order to foil time-based correlation attacks. With thousands of GCSE pupils eagerly awaiting their results, UK electrical retailer Currys has, strangely, revealed the length to which parents are willing to go (essentially handing over lots of money) to equip children "with the technology they need for further study".The company said that nine out of ten parents incentivise children to get good grades, although if they’re only doing it now it’s a bit late.The survey of 1,500 parents reveals that dads are rewarding their children with up to £673 for straight A* results at GCSE level – £141 more than mums would be willing to give.How much is rewarded varies per grade – the better the grade, the bigger the reward, with an A* GSCE result bringing in an average of £59.34 and a C grade bringing in £39.88.

But perhaps more surprisingly, rewards increase again for a D-F grade, with parents handing out an average of £55.03 for an F. Currys suggests that this means effort as well as attainment is highly valued. Or it could be guilt from parents who didn’t help with homework.The bad news for Currys is that mums are more likely to take their children out for an experience such as a meal, while dads are splashing out on technology-based gifts.For those dads looking to curry favour with their kids, the most popular option is a game console or iPhone (17 per cent), followed by an iPad (15 per cent), laptop (14 per cent) or other tablet (10 per cent). TVs and cameras also featured further down the list.Despite almost 9 out of ten (86 per cent) parents rewarding their children for good grades, only a quarter (27 per cent) were actually rewarded themselves when they were younger.

Regionally, parents in the north-east of England are most likely to reward their children for good grades (94 per cent) while people in the south-east are least likely (81 per cent).From a financial perspective, there are stark contrasts – London-based students achieving straight A*s at GCSE are being rewarded almost double what their compatriots in Wales can look forward to, bringing in an average of £753 compared with £418.Psychologist Emma Kenny recommended: “If you are going to reward your child, then it can be practical to think about their educational needs. A laptop that can help with homework and means they can be in touch with you if they are studying at university will be a welcome addition on their academic journey.”Or maybe you could buy them a smart new uniform for next term, or some text books?“With the new term ahead, many parents are equipping their children with the technology they need for further study as a reward for good results," said Ben Lovett, Currys PC World spokesperson, "but with some students earning up to £753 for straight A*s, there will be a lot resting on Thursday’s grades!”

Kenny pointed out that rather than being "grade obsessed", parents should reward their child for trying their best in their exams.What your correspondent’s teenager will be hoping for is a Force FX Lightsaber, but Hannah and her sweets have probably put paid to that. Dutch and British researchers Roel Verdult and Baris Ege, the duo behind the revelation that many VW cars have a security flaw, have now revealed that Ferraris, Maseratis, Pontiacs, and Porches that use Megamos Crypto transponders can be stolen.The duo demonstrated how the Megamos engine immobiliser, which unlocks when an owner’s RFID chip is physically present, can be bypassed to steal the luxury cars.They say the close-range wireless attacks could take place in "real-life situations" such as valet parking and car rental, feats made speedier with two actors targeting the car and key.The work was almost revealed at the USENIX Security conference this month after Volkswagen spent some two years suppressing the work discovered in 2012.Conference heads say the paper was withdrawn in response to an injunction by the UK High Court of Justice from publishing key sections of the paper, noting that the work is "important and relevant" to the security community.The paper contains a redacted sentence that makes the hack harder to replicate.

The research pair of Radboud University Nijmegen, and the University of Birmingham, explain in the paper Dismantling Megamos Crypto: Wirelessly Lockpicking a Vehicle Immobilizer [PDF] that the transponder is the most widely-used iof its kind found in Audis, Volvos, and Volkswagens.They demonstrate three "practical" attacks that target a weak cipher and transponder update mechanism, managing to start a car in less than half an hour."Our first attack exploits weaknesses in the cipher design and in the authentication protocol. We show that having access to only two eavesdropped authentication traces is enough to recover the 96-bit secret key with a computational complexity of 256 cipher ticks (equivalent to 249 encryptions).
Our second attack exploits a weakness in the key-update mechanism of the transponder. This attack recovers the secret key after 3 × 216 authentication attempts with the transponder and negligible computational complexity. We have executed this attack in practice on several vehicles. We were able to recover the key and start the engine with a transponder emulating device. Executing this attack from beginning to end takes only 30 minutes.

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