Monday, October 28, 2013

INTERNET - Secret Weapon Against Hacking

"Secret weapon against hacking:  College students" PBS Newshour 10/26/2013


SUMMARY:  Inside the high-tech criminal mind. It's no secret that cybercriminals are stealing personal information and credit card numbers by hacking into corporate and government computers.  One school in Pittsburgh is training the next generation of cybersecurity experts to fight off the bad guys by teaching them to think the same way.

RICK KARR:  The bad guys stole more than three million Social Security numbers from the State of South Carolina.  As many as seventy million credit card numbers from Sony PlayStation.  They got access to all of the personal details of some customers of a nationwide mortgage lending firm.  But cybercriminals aren’t just looking to steal personal information and credit card numbers when they break into corporate computers -- they’re looking for other valuable information.
RICK KARR:  All those flaws that Carnegie Mellon’s undergrads find every semester ... don’t necessarily mean that the software on your P-C or your bank’s web site is badly written.  Almost every piece of software, every computer system has vulnerabilities that can be exploited -- it’s virtually impossible to make anything that’s connected to the internet perfectly secure.  And today -- compared to 10 or 20 years ago, all of us have just so many more computers and smartphones and tablets -- all of them connected and vulnerable.  So we’re vulnerable, too.

Carnegie Mellon’s students are so good at exploiting those vulnerabilities ... that the NSA enlisted them to create a game that teaches hacking skills to high-school-aged students -- and paid for the job.  Cylab, the university’s cybersecurity institute, is home to the to-ranked competitive hacking team in the world: the Plaid Parliament of Pwning -- “pwn” is hacker-speak for “own”, as in the hacker takes a computer over and owns it.  For third straight year, the team won top honors at international contests that pit teams of hackers against one another ... and utterly demolished the competition at a prestigious contest in Las Vegas.

Monday, October 7, 2013

TECHNOLOGY - Make Using Touch Screen Feel Bumps

"New Disney technology can add texture to completely smooth touch screens" by News Desk, PBS Newshour 10/7/2013

By regulating a flow of voltage to the surface of smooth touch screen, Disney researchers in Pittsburgh discovered that they can create the sensation of texture and three-dimensional surfaces.  The technology can represent an artificial texture applied to an image, or elevation data extracted from topographical maps.  But how does a smooth surface simulate the feel of a 3D bump?

"Our brain perceives the 3D bump on a surface mostly from information that it receives via skin stretching," said Ivan Poupyrev, who directs Disney Research, Pittsburgh's Interaction Group.  "Therefore, if we can artificially stretch skin on a finger as it slides on the touch screen, the brain will be fooled into thinking an actual physical bump is on a touch screen even though the touch surface is completely smooth."