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Google rolls out Instant Tethering for your Android devices

According to Android Police, only Nexus and Pixel devices running Android Nougat 7.1.1 can access it for now. Further, both Pixel C and Nexus 9 tablets can only connect to a phone with data -- you can't use them as a WiFi hotspot, though they can take advantage of the feature even if you haven't upgraded since Marshmallow. Compatible phones like the Pixel XL can connect to each other's mobile internet with no issue unless your carrier blocks the feature. Since Instant Tethering will likely roll out to more devices in the future, make sure to check Play Services every now and then.

[Image credit: Andreas Proschofsky]

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/21/google-instant-tethering-for-android/

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Apple is reportedly reinventing the iPhone’s fingerprint reader

You might not even need a fingerprint sensor in the future, though. Kuo claims that Apple is looking at using face recognition (not just iris recognition) as a part of the next iPhone's features, and may even scrap Touch ID in the long run. Face recognition isn't new (just ask anyone using Android since 4.0), but it would have to be advanced if people are going to ditch fingerprint reading entirely. It couldn't be fooled by a photo, for instance, and would have to be both very fast and adaptable to a wide range of conditions. You don't want to have to enter your PIN just because it's too dark.

Biometrics might not be the only area getting an overhaul thanks to the reported new screen. Kuo understands that the iPhone 7's existing approach to 3D Touch won't work with the next iPhone's curved OLED panel, prompting a switch to a "film sensor." The change would lead to greater sensitivity and more pressure levels, so you might not have to jab the screen quite so authoritatively as you do today.

As always, it's important to take these claims with a grain of salt. Analysts can have the inside track on future products thanks to suppliers, but they may have incomplete info or discuss features that are subject to change. Don't be alarmed if these features don't make the cut, or if they show up in ways you didn't expect. If there's any credibility to the reports, though, unlocking and interacting with your iPhone may be much easier in the near future.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/21/apple-reportedly-reinventing-iphone-fingerprint-reader/

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Tesla’s big Autopilot update is now active on newer cars

Tesla's Enhanced Autopilot has been months in the making, but it's finally here -- no, for real this time. After days of laying dormant, the upgrade is now active for all HW2-era (that is, self-driving capable) Model S and Model X vehicles with Autopilot enabled. You may need to have Tesla technicians modify your camera angles first (the car will tell you if this is the case), but you're otherwise golden. Provided it works as promised, it should give you a more sophisticated take on semi-autonomy.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/21/tesla-enhanced-autopilot-is-live/

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Snowden’s preferred email provider, Lavabit, has been resurrected

Lavabit now stores the key in a tamper-resistant device. The service automatically generates a long passphrase that the company won't be able to see, inserts the key into the device and then destroys the passphrase. A developer for the company told The Intercept that "Once it's in there, we cannot pull that SSL key back out."

At the moment, the service is only open to previous users who were suddenly locked out of their accounts due to its sudden death. They likely won't be able to retrieve their old emails anymore, but they can now continue using their Lavabit account. The company will eventually start accepting new users, though, and they'll be able to choose between three modes: Trustful, Cautious and Paranoid.

The least secure option encrypts emails on the company's server, while Cautious will offer end-to-end encryption. Those who prefer the latter will have to install the client software on their devices to be able to generate an encryption key. But since Cautious still stores the key in the company's server and that might not be enough for some people, the service came up with Paranoid mode. It stores the key on the users' devices instead, and people will have to manually transfer it if they want to use another device. Plus, if they lose the key, it's gone for good.

In addition to three security tiers, the new Lavabit has a feature called Dark Mail to encrypt every email's metadata. It also prevents the sender's ISP from knowing the email's recipient and the recipient's ISP from knowing the sender's. The company didn't say when it will start welcoming new sign ups, but you can pre-register for an account right now on Lavabit's website.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/21/snowden-lavabit-relaunch/

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Amazon made a Dash button just for boxes of assorted candy

For Prime members, each press of the Prime Surprise Sweets button will cost $18, which Amazon will reward by sending you a box full of "top-notch artisanal treats from across the nation." You can, of course, mash the button as much as you'd like. Unfortunately, as our friends at TechCrunch pointed out, the program is still invite-only, but you can pre-order a button and reserve your place in line.

As for the sweet treats themselves, Amazon has a list of some example boxes on the site and it's safe to say that fans of chocolates, caramels or various forms of sweetened popcorn will find something to indulge their sweet tooth. Each box also comes with a note card that describes "every decadent detail" of the candymaking process, so you can remember that your one-touch candy order also supported a small business somewhere.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/21/amazon-prime-surprise-sweets-dash-button-candy/

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‘The Division’ upgrade raises the stakes for veteran players

You won't have to venture into those wilder areas to face additional challenges, either. Ubi is adding a Legendary skill level for three missions (Napalm Production Site, Times Square and WarrenGate Power Planet) where enemies will use "more advanced tactics" (such as reacting to your skills) to catch you off-guard. It's explicitly intended for cooperative play, so you could liken this to Destiny's raids and nightfall strikes.

There are still some under-the-hood improvements on the way. Gear Sets have been tweaked, armor's role has been downplayed (health and stamina matter more) and the skill system has been reworked to introduce more variety. There's also a revamped in-game store with a new currency and a wider range of items to buy.

You'll still get the most perks if you spring for the game's simultaneous Last Stand expansion (which adds a capture-and-hold mode). However, 1.6 by itself still appears to add a lot. It's recognition that dedicated fans will quickly run out of things to do in role-playing titles like this, and that they need a steady stream of fresh material if they're going to keep playing. About the only question is how long Ubisoft can keep this going. There are more expansions and updates in the works, but long-term support for a buy-once game isn't as easy to justify as it is for a subscription RPG.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/22/the-division-1-6-upgrade/

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Giuliani as Trump’s cybersecurity adviser is an unfunny joke

He yelled, "What?!" I realized I'd forgotten to take my balaclava off! I shouted that Big Rudy was the new hacker sheriff in town, and all us hackers were gonna have to go underground. Tears spilled down the front of my ninja costume as I wobbled on my 'blades, telling him our days of taking out the internet for lulz and raking in piles of bitcoin from ransomed AOL accounts was over.

In reality, we have plenty of reasons to worry. Before Rudy Giuliani was named Donald Trump's official presidential Cybersecurity Advisor, the former New York City mayor had made a number of things crystal clear about his intentions towards hackers and the cyber. For one, he'd been pretty up front about the fact that he got into cybersecurity dealmaking for the money. Giuliani was emphatic over many years and at every opportunity that he was going to be the guy to "solve cybersecurity."

Hacking, he said on several occasions, was like cancer. It was the worst word he could think of to call information security research. And finally, he never wavered from his belief that hackers were not only like the mafia, but that they could never, ever be trusted -- especially so-called "reformed" hackers. Giuliani always made sure that people knew he couldn't be fooled by that principle of the justice system.

All his talk of hackers as permanent criminals spreading cancer has no doubt bolstered the beliefs of conservatives in Trump's extreme right pocket, who didn't need help imagining pedophiles and lawless balaclava-wearing basement dwellers (or Asians in faraway hives). Like most things we've seen come out of Trump's surreal fright show, Giuliani's working hard to encourage that people and press wallow in these manipulative, lurid fantasies.

That's why most hackers and infosec professionals found it all kinds of disturbing that Trump will be using Giuliani as his go-to for advice on all things cyber. It's not just that he counts one of his qualifications as the fact that he's given over 300 speeches on how everyone's ignoring the scourge of hacking. Giuliani's not great at following advice when it comes to security. When he was advised against moving New York City's emergency services into the World Trade Center because it wasn't a good call, he did it anyway. Right before 9/11.

It didn't make anyone in the infosec sectors feel better when Giuliani announced he would be forming a cybersecurity team for the President-elect. Rudy isn't exactly a team player when it comes to computer security matters. When the NYPD commissioner built a "computer statistics" system for crime, Giuliani did the equivalent of having him banished -- forcing him out -- to prevent credit going to anyone but Giuliani.

According to the Trump Transition's official announcement, Rudy's team will advise the leader of the free world on issues "concerning private sector cyber security problems and emerging solutions developing in the private sector."

Things only got worse when, the minute the announcement was made, infosec denizens did impromptu security assessments of Gulianisecurity.com and Gulianipartners.com. Both servers were described as having sat for years with the equivalent of a "hack me" sign on them -- meaning that both were likely hacked long ago. The laundry list of years-old unpatched vulnerabilities, nearly two dozen active exploits, and overall security failures was astonishing.

Team Giuliani didn't respond to all the public attention around the nearly-comic website security failings of both sites. By January 14, both Gulianisecurity.com and Gulianipartners.com suddenly failed to resolve in DNS, making both sites unavailable to the public. But, as of this writing, the server addresses remained (just visit, showing that whoever attempted to pull the sites only removed the DNS entry -- but left Giuliani's vulnerable servers online.

Whether or not Giuliani manages those servers himself is beside the point: This is the worst possible resume anyone in this position could have. It's embarrassing and avoidable, and displays a blatant disregard for even the most basic cybersecurity practices. It is the behavior of someone who carelessly believes he is an exception to the rules everyone else must live by. It sends a terrible message to an industry struggling for both legitimacy and a voice with regard to US policy, and in every way possible.

Giuliani has been interested in cybersecurity since he read an FBI report in 2003 predicting a hacking crimewave, and instantly decided he needed to build a business around it. That business was Giuliani Partners, a security consulting company. His naming to Trump's post comes one week after Giuliani Partners, had announced its new partnership with Blackberry. The recently released BlackBerry Secure platform will provide the underlying software for Giuliani Partners' cybersecurity consulting product, whatever that will be.

Under these auspices, the future of cybersecurity policy looks dark. Given how much Giuliani hates hackers and believes he's the king of cops, we can probably expect to see the cyber version of "stop and frisk" coming out of Trump's inevitably opportunistic Giuliani-led Cybersecurity Working Group.

It's clear the incoming powers-that-be don't think very highly of hackers and hacking. Nor do they understand the subtleties of how hackers are actually the entire underpinning of infosec, let alone how important it is to this sector that someone like Giuliani models even the most basic website security. By Giuliani saying stupid things about infosec while pretending entire hacking communities didn't just call out his own cybersecurity as literally the worst possible ever, he's a complete hypocrite for even stepping into the ring. And if there's anything that gets exposed faster and louder than an anti-gay senator on Grindr, it's hypocrisy in security.

This is a business and culture that believes the teeny-tiniest details really matter and has witnessed firsthand that one careless step can topple businesses, and ruin lives. Unlike Rudy Giuliani, the people in cybersecurity have dedicated everything to giving a shit about getting things right.

So if Giuliani and his sideshow of opportunists want to think of hackers as some kind of criminal cancer, they're doomed from the start. Thought pieces by armchair infosec pundits can try to tell us Giuliani should be taken seriously in this role all they want. But I can't think of doing anything worse for the future of cybersecurity right now.

Images: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images (Lead image); United Artists/Getty Images (Hackers movie still); REUTERS/Mike Segar (Giuliani and Trump).

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/20/giuliani-as-cybersecurity-adviser-not-funny/

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Tesla’s latest 100D models focus on range, not power

If you've got $80,000-plus to spend on a car, it frankly seems like a no-brainer to get the 100D instead of the 90D in either the Model S or X, as both cost just $3,000 more. The larger battery in the Model X gives it an extra 38 miles of range, while the Model S gains 41.

Mechanically, the main difference between the P100D and 100D is the drivetrain, as Tesla forum users point out. The P100D option features a larger rear "high performance motor," giving it more oomph but slightly less efficiency (you can see that by clicking between "dual motor" and "P100D" on this product page). As Musk points out in the performance launch post, the P-model battery is also upgraded to safely increase battery output.

To put things in perspective, the Model S 100D still hits 155 mph and gets from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Sure, that's slower than the P100D's 2.39 seconds with the new Ludicrous Plus mode, but it's still about the same as a Corvette Stingray. Yet, the 20 miles of extra range could easily make the difference between being comfy at home and stuck on a freeway. And the P100D costs nearly $40,000 more than the 100D, which seems like ludicrous amount (sorry) for a bit more acceleration.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/20/teslas-latest-100d-models-focus-on-range-not-power/

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Kickstarter shuts down sketchy Adoptly campaign

In this situation, all funding is returned to the backers (in this case, 16 backers had pledged a total of $4,000 thus far) and the decision cannot be reversed. Kickstarter doesn't say why it suspends projects, but its list of reasons includes a variety of reasons around misrepresentation that seem to be appropriate here.

In all liklihood, this decision won't affect the outcome (assuming Adoptly was real to begin with). The campaign had only made $4,000 off of a $150,000 goal, so funding was unlikely to happen to begin with. Earlier this week, The Verge noted that most of its team was unable to be found on social media, LinkedIn or other places that you'd expect to find startup founders.

A Kickstarter spokesperson noted that the company doesn't comment on individual suspensions and pointed me to the aforementioned list of reasons a campaign can get shut down. While the Kickstarter has been suspended, Adoptly's website remains up, at least for now.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/20/kickstarter-shuts-down-sketchy-adoptly-campaign/

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Unfollowing @POTUS could be difficult right now (update: explained)

What should be happening, according to @Jack, is that Twitter is replaying a series of actions from a snapshot it took at 9AM, transferring @POTUS followers to the new @POTUS44 account where Barack Obama's history is archived and the new, fresh @POTUS as well. This was mentioned in the transition plans back in October, explaining that both accounts would end up with the (then 11 million or so) followers. The problem is that if you've unfollowed (or even blocked) since, it will apparently take time to catch up, and hasn't completed yet.

It's unclear if everything is working exactly as planned, but apparently the process is still ongoing. As it stands, if you'd like to follow or unfollow @POTUS, @FLOTUS or any of the other top-level White House accounts and took action on that within the last day or so, it may be better to wait until tomorrow to see how it shakes out. Or, you could keep flipping the switch and see what happens.

Either way, this is the first transition of the social media era, and it doesn't appear to be living up to user expectations. We'll see if things are done in a similar way the next time there's a change in the Oval Office, but for now, if there are any other updates or explanations we will update when they come in.

Update: The @Support account tweets that the problem "is being resolved."

Update 1/21: Twitter chief Jack Dorsey has explained what happened in a flurry of tweets. Anyone who followed @POTUS44 after 12PM Eastern were accidentally set to follow @POTUS as well, and those who had unfollowed @POTUS were suddenly marked to follow it. Other official accounts (like @VP, @PressSec and @WhiteHouse) were affected, too. Only about 560,000 users are likely to have run into this problem, but that's clearly enough to have caused a ruckus.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/20/unfollowing-potus-could-be-difficult-right-now/

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