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This Week in Getting Hacked: Your Smartphone Picture is You Edition

cybersecurity news
Q.C. Crea

Welcome back to ‘This Week in Getting Hacked’—the world’s greatest cybersecurity-related link dump! Each week, we bring you the best news stories from the cybersecurity field, letting you know who’s getting hacked, who’s hacking, what data is leaking, and about what you should take with caution. So strap in, change your password, and let’s find out who’s getting hacked this week!

On to the links…

HP Laptops have ‘hidden’ keyloggers installed. No, really. Hundreds of HP laptop models have been infected with software that records every single keystroke. The kicker is that it’s pre-installed. HP laptop models which have been infected include the EliteBook, ProBook, Pavilion, and Envy (basically all their laptops, let’s be honest). If you want, HP has the full list here which dates back to 2012.

What!? 2012!? Oh, did we forget to mention that this has been going for a while now? Sorry about that. The good news is that the virus is disabled by default, but any hacker worth their salt could probably get in there and discover all your passwords and that novel you’ve been writing for a while now.

HP’s official statement on the matter is that the code was mistakenly added. Okay….

Just one of your smartphone’s photos is enough to determine that the photo was taken by you. That’s right, much like how those fancy CSI techs can match bullets to guns, similar tech-people can look at just one photo taken by you to determine that the photo came from your phone.

This is done by a so-called ‘flaw’ in digital imaging known as photo-response non-uniformity (PRNU). The Verge explains:

PRNU happens when the imperfections in the manufacturing process of each camera’s sensors create tiny variations. Those variations can cause the millions of pixels in the camera’s sensor to project colors that are slightly brighter or darker than normal, which creates a systemic distortion in the photo called pattern noise. This is invisible to the naked eye, and is extracted by special filters — where each pattern is unique for each camera

The study mentions things like how this could be used to help people withdrawing cash or some other non-nefarious things that definitely won’t happen before the nefarious things do. But this is a fun piece of hacking news for once!

The iPhone X of a Chinese woman was able to be facially-unlocked by her colleague. She has been given a refund. I’d love to stop this news story here, but it’s such an odd headline that we should investigate further.

This has happened to the woman, called by her surname, Yan, more than once. The colleague was able to beat Apple’s facial recognition trained for only Yan’s face every single time.

Apple has not responded, and it’s still up in the air on whether or not she’ll be getting a third iPhone X, but man, what are the odds of that?

That’s it for this week! Stay safe out there and remember to change your passwords!

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