ExtraTorrent is probably gone for good. Our friends at Torrentfreak gave us the bad news this morning that one of the more popular torrenting sites, ExtraTorrent, has decieded to shut down permanently.
Many of our readers are wondering what will be left?
As of now, The Pirate Bay (thepiratebay.org) still functions, but they have had a rocky ride the last few years – many of the main players have faced raids, prison time and are still tied up in courts. TPB seems to live up to its slogan, however, “The galaxy’s most resilient BitTorrent site“.
ExtraTorrent Closes on Wednesday
The beloved torrent site left us with this message on their home page: “ExtraTorrent has shut down permanently ExtraTorrent with all mirrors goes offline.. We permanently erase all data. Stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones. Thx to all ET supporters and torrent community. ET was a place to be…. May 17, 2017″
No one knows yet if the contributers to ExtraTorrent are under legal pressure, but it would follow the trend in relation to pirate sites in recent years.
Update: We were informed by SaM that ExtraTorrent’s release group ETRG is gone now. “Ettv and Ethd could remain operational if they get enough donations to sustain the expenses and if they people handling it ready to keep going,” we were told. (Read more…)
Smart phone and tablet developers will need to put better security measures in place to keep hackers and governments out of their devices. Many newer generation devices implement fingerprint readers in place of passcodes, which are often promoted as a stronger security feature. However, as we learned in recent news, authorities can force you to use your fingerprint to unlock your phone (but you can still invoke your 5th amendment right to withhold your numeral passcode from them). Gesture analysis could come next.
Free-form gestures have been said to be the next step in passwords. It is very difficult to simulate a complex gesture as opposed to guessing a numerical combination. Jailbroken iPhones got this feature awhile back (called Stride2), you can see how it works here:
In addition to using gestures to set your passwords, your touch-screen device could continuously verify your identity while you’re using it. It would do this by interpreting your gestures with mathematical algorithms. According to Motherboard, “the basic idea is to observe a user’s movements on a touchscreen device for some period of time and to come up with a gestural profile unique to that individual.” Every person makes unique gestures when they use a device and those all add up to make a personal profile. Ideally, if hijackers or authorities have access to your unlocked device, they wouldn’t be able to use it for long. If they did, the device would recognize that the user is not you since the gestures would not fit the profile. Yet as we see from the Motherboard article, robots were able to recreate user biometrics pretty easily.
Phones and tablets could end up having multiple layers of authentication (fingerprint, gesture analysis and codes) but many users would find that to be too much of a hassle. Facial recognition could be another alternative to passwords, but that might not protect you from authorities either. Voice recognition would probably be protected under the 5th amendment, but isn’t a convenient way to work with your phone in quiet places. Research into better security features is at the forefront of developers minds right now. Hopefully we will see better solutions in the near future.
Online publishers often hate ad-blockers like AdBlock Plus. Owners of smaller blog sites complain that they get little to no revenue from the work they produce. You may have also noticed some major news sites like Forbes and Wired have restricted access to their articles unless you turn off your ad-blocker or pay a monthly fee.
There are advantages to ad blockers, however. It keeps the readers safe from malicious ads that can harm your computer and from tracking URLs that invade privacy. It also preserves the original design of the page and doesn’t display annoying loud or flashing ads. There are also a large number of sites that don’t filter adult ads, which makes browsing at work or in public very difficult.
Recently, AdBlock Plus has announced that they are teaming up with a company called Flattr. Flatter is founded by Peter Sunde, one of the original co-founders of The Pirate Bay. AdBlock Plus and Flatter plan to implement a solution that they feel will make both advertisers and readers happy. The team will release a product called “Flattr Plus” that will allow readers to decide which content they want to pay for.
How will it work? The platform will let users to fund the content they wish to see within a set monthly budget. The money spent will be distributed to publishers based on engagement of their material. It is unclear at this point how exactly they plan to track engagement, since many people click on things they don’t mean to, or wish they hadn’t. There are also plenty of instances where readers leave tabs open for long periods of time.
Publishers will have to sign up with Flattr Plus in order to get paid. One problem with this is that Flattr Plus could decide to exclude websites they don’t like or disagree with, which would make it unfair for many users on the Internet.
Would you pay for a service like Flattr Plus in order to eliminate ads from your browsing experience? Some say they will simply switch to another ad-blocking service such as Ublock.
@socialhax this is big part about why everyone is switching to ublock origin. adblock dev is starting to get greedy. ublock is better anyway
See ya later, real life! The creator of Second Life, the socially-focused online world, is looking for 3D content creators to make “social experiences in virtual reality” (Venturebeat).
Linden Lab recently put out an application for users of 3D Studio Max, Unity and other computer graphics programs for “Project Sansar“: an online virtual world that will soon be available for VR headsets. Project Sansar aims to make “it easier than ever before to create, share, and monetize your own social VR experiences”. Applicants who are accepted will receive an invitation later this year. We learned last year in an interview with Tom’s Hardware that the creators will be able “rent simulators that will let them build any VR experience they see fit.”
Here is an interview from last August where Second Life CEO Ebbe Altberg discusses content creation within Project Sansar:
Do you need experience with coding in order to create content for this new virtual reality platform? The short answer is no. While the application hints that you will need experience in order to be accepted for the testing program, the platform is designed so that anyone can create a VR experience:
“We believe we will democratize the medium of VR, we provide all of the difficult pieces of creating VR in our platform. We are lowering the barrier of entry to content creation.” -Second Life CEO Ebbe Altberg
Like Second Life, the new virtual reality platform will allow creators to buy and sell the items they create. If you’re interested in applying for Project Sansar or getting updates about the program, please visit https://projectsansar.com/creatorpreview.
In the UK, Snapchat users could face trouble if they take screen shots of their friend’s photos without permission and share them with others.
The Government’s culture minister has stated that “anyone who who screenshotted a Snapchat message and shared it with others could be sued by its original sender – and face a prison sentence.” –The Independent
For those not fully familiar with how Snapchat works, it is a social messaging service where users send photos to one another, typically with added text, emoji, filters and other features. The appeal of Snapchat to most people, is that messages will disappear in 10 or so seconds after having been viewed. However, users are able to take screenshots of the picture messages before they disappear and a notice is given to the person on the other end that their friend has taken a screenshot of their photo.
One problem Snapchat has faced in the past was during “The Snappening”, when a third party app “allowed users to save and access their snaps online, without the sender’s knowledge and circumventing Snapchat’s “instant deletion” feature”. -(Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Mashable) This lead Snapchat to eventually shut down third party access. Some say they can still take snaps with a jailbroken phone, however Snapchat has been trying to crack down on that. (idownloadblog)
Now that users will mostly be notified when a screen shot is taken, Snapchat still “advises users to avoid sending messages which they would not want to be saved or shared.” But UK’s culture minister still warns that “Under UK copyright law, it would be unlawful for a Snapchat user to copy an image and make it available to the public without the consent of the image owner.” Additionally, “The image owner would be able to sue anyone who does this for copyright infringement.” Those who infringe copyright could face up to 10 years in prison and a “unlimited” fine.
Furthermore, UK law states that disclosing sexual photographs of others without consent is strictly against the law and if convicted, violators could face up to two years in prison.
UK readers, should taking a screenshot of a photo someone sent to you be considered unlawful? Should the person who took the photo assume that they have given up rights to the photo once it’s sent? Should snaps fall under fair use or should users be protected by the government when it comes to others saving and distributing their photos?
Reports are coming in that suggest that Microsoft and Sony could be launching their next-generation consoles earlier than we thought. The release date for both consoles has been predicted to be 2020 based on the histories of their previous release dates, however journalists at Techspot have argued that we may be able to get them sooner for a couple of reasons:
“The typical lifecycle of a premium console is around seven years in the mainstream and another three years or so before being put out to pasture. The next consoles from Sony and Microsoft, however, are expected to break this cycle and arrive ahead of schedule due to a number of factors.” – Shawn Knight at Techspot
One such factor is the rush to move toward 4K resolution or Ultra High Definition (UHD) which will feature higher resolution, faster refresh and better color quality than the current HDTVs. Game consoles will need to keep up with this trend as more people buy these new types of televisions. Another factor is virtual reality. With the release of Oculus VR on the horizon, today’s current consoles will take a backseat to three dimensional gaming environments if they don’t keep up with new technology.
This is all good news for gamers. Additionally, if rumors hold true, Xbox fans may see their favorite console released before PS5.
“Rumours indicate that gamers will most likely see the Xbox Two in action before PlayStation 5. It was confirmed recently that the Microsoft will be working on (or may possibly even already be working on) a successor to the Xbox One. Everyone is calling it the Xbox Two.” –Patrick Mabilog – Christian Today
This competition between manufacturers is an exciting race toward the future of gaming.
What motivates someone to hack? What is a hacker’s life like? These are the questions the documentary “The Hacker Wars” seeks to answer and present to the viewer. In addition to these questions, the documentary seeks to show the viewer the battle over the internet, privacy, and freedom. At one side is the government and large corporations. At the other there are hackers who seek to disrupt their operations.
“The Hacker Wars” (available on Amazon) is a documentary that was released in 2014 that follows several hackers and hacker community leaders. Their crimes, arrests, and outcomes are followed, along with providing details on the background and political beliefs of the hackers. As explained by the documentary, the hackers depicted seek to expose security flaws in governments and large corporations’ information systems. By exposing their flaws, lies and deceits – their ultimate aim is to start social and political movements that will result in a government that better serves the people.
The documentary begins following Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer. Auernheimer headed an organization called “Goatse Security” which exposed an AT&T flaw. This flaw allowed Auernheimer to gather over 100,000 iPad users’ data. The data included high officials in government and celebrities. In short, he was able to gather this data from publicly accessible sources. This means that he did not illegally hack into anything. However, after AT&T refused to fix the problem, he released this data to the public by sending the data to a media outlet called Gawker Media. This ended with him being arrested and sent to prison where he served over a year out of a 41 month sentence. His time was cut short when the conviction was overturned in April 2014 by the Third Circuit.
The documentary allowed a pathway into his political views. Auernheimer is a self-titled internet troll. However, viewers get another viewpoint on what trolling means. In his view, trolling doesn’t mean causing havoc for the sake of causing havoc and anarchy. Rather, trolling meant getting others to show who they really were once the curtain of public niceties went away. By exposing flaws in companies’ securities, he could force people to see organizations as they really were. He felt the government further impeded this by consistently creating laws that limit the constitutional right of free speech.
The film moves out and pushes focus on Barrett Brown. While not a hacker, he is a journalist who focused on facilitating and distributing publications on internet security. He is linked to the Stratfor hack in 2012. Stratfor is an intelligence consulting firm with many ties to the government. Brown was arrested on the charge that he shared a link to the leaked data over the internet. Charges were added after he was accused of threatening a federal officer.
Brown’s political motives were focused on the cyber-military-industrial complex. The film explained how trillions of dollars flow into the complex. He believes that this complex and other related industries help to eat away at human rights, privacy, and democracy. As a result of this, he founded a wiki and collaboration effort called “Project PM” that aimed at collecting data on this complex. By studying the data, he hoped to track how the government used these private corporations to collect data on citizens.
The film also explains that Brown had links to the hacktivists called “Anonymous”. He was even considered by some to be a spokesperson for them. The film also went to explain a portion of his motives were linked to his childhood. His family was brought down by the FBI and forced into a lower standard of living after his father was left broke after fighting charges that were later dropped.
The Stratfor leak was really caused by Jeremy Hammond who the film also profiles. He was convicted in November 2013 for 10 years for hacking and leaking the information to WikiLeaks. The film explains that Brown played his part by disseminating this information. The film presents footage from a 2004 DEF CON where he pushed the idea of electronic civil disobedience and called for action against those who sought to control and manipulate others.
The film really climaxes over the history of Sabu and his link to Anonymous. Hector Xavier Monsegur, also known as Sabu, helped found the group LulzSec. However, it was later found out the Sabu was turned by the FBI into an informant in 2011. Inside, he helped provide information on the groups Anonymous, LulzSec and Antisec. The film goes on to explain and further imply that by controlling Sabu, the FBI was really able to hack into Stratfor. In short, the FBI, in some ways, controlled Anonymous or the hacking community to gain access to the intelligence Stratfor had.
The film also gives insight to a project called TrapWire. This technology, through surveillance, was able to gather information and report incidents to police and law enforcement. The film follows Auernheimer’s group as they simulated suspicious activity in front of cameras that were linked into this system. They later found out that they were actually reported to law enforcement. The film goes on to imply that this system was being used more prominently in the US more than what the government wanted the public to know.
The film goes on to tackle some really tough issues. For one, is it morally wrong to hack into a site? The hacktivists presented were of the opinion that people had the right to hack into these sites. Their actions were justified by the hope and aim of making people more aware of what the government was doing. They were also of the opinion that to really get corporations and governments to really change was to expose these weaknesses. To expose these weaknesses, they had to hack into the site.
Another issue the film sought to address is the idea of free speech. These hackers supported the idea that government no longer wanted to allow the right of free speech. Some of these weaknesses in information security were not accessed by hacking. Rather, the information came from public resources. By charging the hackers with publishing this information, the government was infringing upon their right to free speech. In short, the film implied that today’s hackers fight for free speech and putting government back to where it belongs, which is taking care of us rather than controlling and surveying us.
Do you use a Tor browser to make yourself anonymous on the internet? Want to make it better? Try using the Tor browser for a Linux machine running Ubuntu.
What is a Tor browser? It is a browser that works in conjunction with the Tor network. The Tor Network utilizes a technology called onion routing which is designed to encrypt internet traffic in layers. Every layer addresses to a node. Each layer knows only the next node or onion router the packet needs to be sent to or relayed to. This layering of internet traffic allows anonymous communication. All of this leads to accessing something called the Dark Web or Darknet which are sites that you normally can’t get to through Google or any normal browser.
The Darknet isn’t just a place where people go to do illegal activity. It also provides a refuge for whistleblowers. Journalists can utilize Tor browsers to ensure privacy and secure communication with their sources. While the Darknet does have its fair share of illegal activity, it also has areas where information can be freely accessed without censorship.
Understanding the Darknet
Normal websites use something called DNS or Domain Name Server. It simple terms it associates a website url to an IP address. When you type in https://www.google.com/ your computer sends out a request. This request goes to DNS servers that return the actual IP address that the website is. If you ever want to see this in action, go to the command line in your OS. Do a ping command to Google. This will allow you to see the actual IP address you are communicating to Google with. Tor browsing is different in that it doesn’t use DNS. This means that unless you know the specific address of the website, you can’t get there.
This also means that Google doesn’t index those sites either. For Google to present that page as a page result anytime you do a search, Google has to index the site. This means that Google scans the site for content. Each page is indexed by Google. That way, Google can present a possible result of your query. In these two major ways, these sites stay off the grid.
Why the Tor Network Needs Their Own Browser
Most browsers are designed to allow it to collect information about you as a user. It stores passwords so you don’t forget them. It stores browsing history so you know which sites you’ve been to. It also allows you store cookies on the computer. These cookies store information about you and other details. For the largest part, these cookies allow you to get advertisements based on your general interest. Have you ever been to Facebook and seen something advertised that you were thinking about buying? Now, clear out your cookies and go to the page. The advertisement that you see will be different. This is an example of how cookies are used. Unfortunately, these cookies can also be used to track you.
The downside to the Tor Network is that it only keeps secure communications within the network. Once the packet leaves the network, it is no longer secure. The Tor browser helps with this. The browser is designed as to not store any information on you. However, certain precautions still should be taken.
Why Use Linux Over Windows
There are a few reasons why you should use Linux over Windows. The first one is that Linus is open source. This means that anyone can look at the code, share and collaborate to make it better. At first thought, this sounds like a bad idea. However, the more people that can work on it the better it will be.
Another downside is that Linux doesn’t just automatically give you administrator privileges. Windows does this. The first person that sets up the computer with their profile normally has administrator privileges by default. This can be bad in that this allows the user to be able to do whatever they want. It makes it more difficult to get the user to do something when they don’t have the rights and privileges to do so.
The next downside to using Windows with the Tor browser is numbers. Hackers develop code that will affect as many as clients as they possible can in the shortest amount of time that they can do it in. This means that they will write code for whatever OS they think will impact the most people. Windows still has the market when it comes to OS. Hackers use this to their ability.
Installing a Tor Browser for a Linux Computer Running Ubuntu
The first step is going to the website. Go to https://www.torprogject.org. On the left side of the page, click on “Installing Tor on Debian/Ubuntu “. Scroll down to Option Two. There, it will tell you not to use the packages in Ubuntu’s universe. Next, the site gives you the link to Wikipedia page will show you the different Ubuntu versions. Next, there are a series of dropdown menus. Depending on what you pick on, you will get a list of instructions on how to set up Tor. For example, if you chose “Ubuntu Lucid Lynx” as your OS with the Tor version as “stable” come not from the source, it will look as below:
You need to add the following entry in /etc/apt/sources.list or a new file in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/:
deb http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org lucid main
deb-src http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org lucid main
Then add the gpg key used to sign the packages by running the following commands at your command prompt:
Once that is done, you can move on to set two. Set two is how to configure your applications to use Tor. It’s important to note here that applications don’t natively use Tor automatically. This means that internet traffic that doesn’t use a browser will not be protected. You have to configure your applications to route their traffic through the Tor browser. Firewalls will need to be updated. After that, you should have a working Tor browser.
There are many dangers associated with organ transplants. The organ has to match the body. If not, the body could reject the organ making a very dangerous situation for the patient. What if you could just print it? What if you could just pop in the specifications for an organ in a machine and it will make one for you using the patient’s very own cells? This is printing 3D organs.
How 3D Printers Work
A 3D printer is a machine capable of creating things from basic building blocks of material. It can use plastic, glass, metal and biological materials such as living cells. The first patent for technology dates back to 1980 by a Japanese doctor. 3D printing is an extension of Rapid Prototyping (RP) technologies. Originally, 3D printers were used to create prototypes in fields of engineering. However, as the technology progressed, people began to be able to use it for other applications.
Understanding Organ Transplants
To fully understand how 3D printers can print tissues and organs, you first have to understand organ transplants. Blood types and even sizes have to fit before a transplant can take place. To add to this, there is a time limit on how long an organ can stay outside the human body. Normally, there is a four hour time window. From the moment the organ leaves the body, doctors have four hours to find a match and perform the operation. On top of this, there is guarantee the organ will not be rejected even if all the characteristics match.
At first, doctors began to look at growing organs in the laboratory. While they were able to successfully create heart cells, creating a whole operational heart is a different matter. Heart and lung organs are complex and not easily created even with today’s technology. Doctors began to look for other solutions to this problem.
How 3D Printing will Aid in Organ Transplants
Organs have two major parts. One is the cells that occupy the organ. The other part is the tissue or ECM scaffolding that the cells rest on. Through a process called decellularization a detergent is used to clear off all the cells that reside on that scaffolding. From there, doctors are able to grow the recipient’s cells on the scaffolding. Once the cells grow on the scaffolding, doctors will have an organ that has less of a chance of being rejected by the body because the patients own cells are in the organ.
Before 3D printing the scaffolding still had to come from a human body, meaning doctors still had to wait for an organ to become available. With 3D printing, scaffolding can be produced . This increases the rate at which organs become available for transplant.
3D Printing in the Future
As of right now, 3D printing is on the rise and is becoming more and more available. In fact, small 3D printers can be bought for just a few hundred dollars on Amazon. Organ 3D printing is growing in research and development. It is gaining more attention and recognition as a viable option. In fact, in 2011 a successful transplant was done that saved the life of new born baby Kaiba Gionfreddo who needed a splint in order to live. 3D printed organs are the future.
Imagine a currency that is not tied to any country. Imagine a currency that isn’t even regulated either by government or any outside entity. If you can imagine that then you’ve imagined something called bitcoin. Bitcoins sound like something straight out of a science fiction novel. However, they are very real and they are growing in popularity.
Bitcoins are a type of currency that are completely electronic. No one country supports or even endorses this currency. In fact, some countries have even tried to suppress its very use. They can either be stored on your computer or in the cloud virtually. There are no banks or middle men. The bitcoins go directly from you to the intended group.
The Origins of Bitcoins
The strangest thing about bitcoins is that no one is quite sure who created them. In 1998, a paper by Wei Dai, addressed the idea that currency could be created by using methods of digital cryptography. In simpler terms, you could use encryption as a way of regulating the creation of currency. You could even use it to verify transactions as well. Eleven years after the paper was published, a user that went by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto developed and published the specifications for the first bitcoin.
Oddly enough, there is no record of Satoshi. In fact, Satoshi is believed to be a pseudonym. Satoshi means “wise”. Naka means “medium, inside, or relationship”. Moto means “foundation”. Overtime, people have claimed to have figured out who he or she is but so far no one has been really identified as this person. Possible figures include Michael Clear, Neal King, Vladimir Oksman, and Charles Bry. However, not one of these people has claimed to have been the person.
After Satoshi developed this thing called bitcoins, he slowly began to fade from the community that helped birth bitcoins into existence. The most recent update about Satoshi is he/she has been nominated for a Nobel Prize this year.
Cryptocurrency is currency created from digital cryptography or encryption. More specifically, it is the result of solving a very complex mathematical formula. Bitcoins have a network of users. Everyone shares a large record of all the transactions of bitcoins. This large transaction or record book is called a “block chain”. This block chain is then processed by computers to validate everyone’s transaction. Once that computer validates a transaction, it rewards bitcoins. This process is called “mining”. So, it’s a currency that validates itself. The validation process creates more currency for others to use. Thus, it’s a self-supporting currency.
The problem that may come up is what happens when the currency fills the market? Meaning, if currency is being created more each day, won’t there be a day when there are too many bitcoins around for it to be worth anything? The answer is no. There is a cap on how many bitcoins that can be created. Only 21 million bitcoins can ever be created. This means that the more people mine for this the less there will be. However, current projections, at a rate of 25 every ten minutes, predict bitcoins will run out near the year 2140.
Why Banks and Governments Hate Bitcoins
Bitcoins are not popular with everyone. In particularly, governments don’t like bitcoins for the simple reason of anonymity. Bitcoins can be traded without compromising your identity. You keep your anonymity even when buying and selling. Keeping your anonymity means the government can’t track those transactions. Not being able to track those means not being able to tax them or regulate them. This means businesses and individuals can do business without the government trying to take a portion of it. Naturally, governments don’t want this. China has even made attempts to scare their citizens into not using them in 2013. However, the anonymity of bitcoins has made it difficult for governments to get their citizens away from it.
Banks don’t like them for the simple fact that it takes away the middle man. In this case, the banks are the middle man. Bitcoins use something called a bitcoin wallet that either rests on the computer or in the cloud. Either way, a bank has nothing to do with this process. This means that a lot less transactions would be going through the banking system. Every processed transaction creates profit for the bank. This has potential to create the current banking system.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of using Bitcoins
The major advantage of using bitcoins is the anonymity of it. If privacy is something you want, then you want to use bitcoins. The other advantage of it could be taxation. If you are a business, you could potentially avoid some taxes by converting some of your transactions to bitcoins. (note – this article is for educational purposes only, socialhax does not condone illegal activity such as tax evasion).
One of the disadvantages of using bitcoins is its volatility. There can be large price fluctuations in a short period of time. In fact, from 2012 to 2014 the price of bitcoins actually has fallen over time. Plus, not everyone takes bitcoins. It’s adoption has slowly begun to grow but unless you are doing business online, your ability to purchase day to day items such as gas is limited. Another disadvantage to bitcoins is there is not regulation to control its use. While this is a good thing in terms of privacy and anonymity, it can be a problem for those whose bitcoins are taken from them. If you so happened to be hacked, as the case with inputs.io who lost $1.2 million from hackers, that money is gone since it wasn’t ensured by anyone like the FDIC in today’s banks.
The Dangerous Side of Bitcoins
The anonymity of bitcoins has attracted some bad attention. Since it can’t be tracked by any law enforcement, it has made itself a prime currency for illegal activities. This includes anything from drugs all the way to human trafficking. Before, illegal activities could be tracked by following cash flows in and out of accounts. However, the use of bitcoins has made this impossible. While this hasn’t seemed to stop the use of bitcoins, it has put a damper on it acceptance in the mainstream. Law enforcement agencies use this as an example to help warn people about it use.
To Sum up Bitcoins
Bitcoins are growing in its use. In the future, we will definitely see more and more of its use. However, as of today, its use is mainly for those looking for privacy and anonymity along with freedom from taxation. Most households probably won’t be using cryptocurrency for a while. However, individuals and companies can benefit off its use.