Defcon 16: Biometric cloning


One of the more novel talks we saw at Defcon was [Zac Franken] presenting on access control systems. He covered several different types, but the real fun was his live demo of bypassing a hand geometry scanners like the one pictured above. With the help of two assistants, 4 pounds of chromatic dental alginate, and 5 liters of water, he made a mold of his hand. The box he placed his hand in had markings to show where the pegs on the scanner are located. After 2 minutes he could remove his hand from the cavity. They then filled the mold with vinylpolysiloxane, making sure to remove all bubbles. 20 minutes later the hand was solid and passed the scanner’s test. This may not be a completely practical attack, but it does defeat the overall idea of biometrics; biometrics are built on the assumption that every person is unique and can’t have their features reproduced.

[Zac] also showed an interesting magnetic card spoofer that emulated all three tracks using coils of magnet wire. We hope to see more about that in the future.

[photo: morgan.davis]

RIAA pays out $108,000 to P2P lawsuit defendant


[Tanya Andersen], the defendant in Atlantic v. Andersen, has finally been paid $107,951 for reimbursement of legal fees. RIAA lawyers had appealed to get the amount reduced and originally offered $30,000 then $60,000, but [Andersen]‘s lawyers convinced the judge to uphold the six-figure sum.

This is a significant setback for industry lawyers who often use illegal discovery techniques and have been criticized for using overly-litigious legal strategies to force defendants to settle. Sadly though, the payout only covers [Andersen]‘s legal fees and doesn’t offer any compensation for damages, but a counter-suit filed in Portland, Oregon seeks exactly that. Here’s hoping her lawyers [Lory Lybeck] and [Ben Justus] continue to set favorable legal precedents for defendants of these lawsuits.

As far as the technical side of the discovery methods go, there are many ways to keep the RIAA off your back. The simplest is to disable your P2P client’s available file listing or turning off outbound traffic altogether. Other ways are to use encryption (although this is usually to get around ISP blocks) or download to an offsite machine. Hopefully, though, this judgment and eventual payout will make the recording companies reconsider the amount of lawsuits they file and to use less aggressive legal tactics.

Creepy robot eye follows you and winks in response


Opto-Isolator is an interesting art installation that was on display at the Bitforms Gallery in NYC. This single movement-tracking eye creates a statement about how we view art and is a response to the question “what if art could view us?”. The somewhat creepy display not only follows the person viewing it, but mimics blinks a second later and averts its gaze if eye contact is kept up for too long. Its creators [Golan Levin] and [Greg Baltus] have done a great job mimicking human behavior with such a simple element and the social implications of it are truly fascinating.

If they wanted to, [Levin] and [Baltus] could possibly crank up the spook factor by adding facial recognition and programming it to remember how certain people interact with it, then tailor its behavior to wink at different rates or become more shy or bold, depending on the personality of the person watching it. Of course, that would require that someone goes back to it more than once…

[via Glass Tumbler]

Watching DVDs on your Wii


Nintendo Wii Fanboy explains how to watch DVDs on your Wii using the new MPlayer application. Although the reviews are mixed, some claim it works and others claim it doesn’t, most are excited about this new feature which has been missing since the Wii’s launch. To get this working, you need to run the Twilight Hack and get the Homebrew Channel. Then you download the MPlayer software onto your SD card and install that using the Homebrew Channel. From there, you can launch the application and play your DVDs with ease using the minimalistic DVD player interface.

Although this seems like a lot of work just to watch a DVD, especially considering this might not work for you, it is interesting to see people trying to push for media center software on the Wii. Now they only need to find ways to get past the Nintendo’s attempts to stop this Homebrew movement.

New Discovery Channel show starring hackers


A new Discovery Channel show titled Prototype This! will debut on October 15, 2008. Hoping to capture the same demographic as Mythbusters‘ audience, the show is about designing and creating robots, gadgets, and other things that nerds will love. Prototype This! is hosted by four wide-ranging experts: [Zoz Brooks], who’s got a PhD in robotics, [Mike North], who also has a PhD, in material sciences, [Terry Sandin], a special effects veteran of the Hollywood film industry, and [Joe Grand], who we’ve covered recently for his Defcon badge work. [Daniel Terdiman]‘s glimpse behind the scenes reveals some interesting projects, from a stair-climbing robot to the creation of a pyro pack. We’ll be sure to set our DVRs to record.

[via Zero Day]

LED floor captures digital footprints


Sensacell created a unique interactive flooring system for the 2008 World Expo in Zaragoza, Spain. Comprised of 1000 LED panels, the 250 foot installation is covered in architectural glass and lights up in response to pressure. We like what different people are doing in this clip; from walking in a line to dragging a mop over the floor, the results are undeniably captivating and ultimately irresistible.

[via Gizmodo]

Modding the Acer Aspire One with Bluetooth


[tnkgrl], a regular around here, is at it again. This time she has modded an Acer Aspire One subnotebook to have internal Bluetooth. She’s released part 1 of a multi part tutorial on beefing up the Aspire One. In this part, she covers disassembly, adding more RAM, and adding the Bluetooth hardware. She suggests that you look at her Bluetooth install on an Asus 701 to find more information as the process is nearly identical.

Part 2 of the tutorial is going to cover upgrading the SSD to a 1.8″ PATA hard drive and putting it back together.

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