Monthly Archives: November 2015

Hello Barbie, Goodbye Privacy? Hacker Raises Security Concerns


Barbie dolls are at the top of some children’s wish lists this holiday season, but parents may want to ignore these requests and instead grant their families the gift of privacy.


Hello Barbie, which retails for about $75, uses a microphone, voice recognition software and artificial intelligence to enable a call-and-response function similar to Siri or Google Now. A free smartphone app that connects the toy to a user’s Wi-Fi network brings this Barbie into a class of technology often referred to as the Internet of Things, or IoT.


Some security researchers say this technology makes the doll susceptible to being hacked and could compromise its owners’ privacy.


Matt Jakubowski was able to get into the toy’s system to access users’ system information, Wi-Fi network names, internal MAC addresses, account IDs and MP3 files, he told NBC Chicago. He added that he would be able to use this data to find someone’s house and personal information, and could access their home network and listen to everything Barbie records.


“It’s just a matter of time until we are able to replace her servers with ours, and have her say anything we want,” he said.


Privacy experts have been speaking out about the toy since March, voicing concerns about potential advertisers being able to collect information that could exploit children’s preferences.


Mattel, which manufactures the Barbie brand, partnered with entertainment company ToyTalk to develop the doll’s technology.


Despite potential risks associated with the Barbie, Jakubowski has commended ToyTalk for its efforts to protect consumers’ security so far, telling Global News via email:


“Overall I think ToyTalk has done a outstanding job on the security protocols they have in place. The doll when in wifi mode requires a client-side cert to be valid in order to access any of the data, it also limits the data that it can accept thus limiting the attack surface.”




“ToyTalk also appears to be using HTTPS for all communications to ensure no eavesdropping of any kind can happen. These are all good levels of security that you don’t typically see in many IoT devices. ToyTalk has certainly taken many of the concerns and has addressed them as best as they could.”


ToyTalk says it collects voice-recorded data but only to help improve the user’s experience. The company also states it may share data with third parties, but limits this sharing of information to parties that help with speech recognition, improving products and other research and development.


ToyTalk told The Huffington Post that the doll, like all devices that connect to the Internet, carries the possibility of being hacked.


“It’s with these issues in mind that we purposely built in so many privacy and security measures into all ToyTalk products — from our first kids’ apps to Hello Barbie,” the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Martin Reddy, wrote in an email.


Reddy stressed that Jakubowski’s activities did not technically constitute a hack, given that the researcher was only able to access the same information that the companion app already stores. Jakubowski wasn’t able to access the user’s Wi-Fi password or any digital files of the child talking.


ToyTalk also has measures in place should privacy breaches become apparent, including a “bug bounty” program incentivizing security researchers to disclose potential vulnerabilities, according a blog post published on the company’s Tumblr.




Privacy advocates have called the doll “creepy” and claimed it eavesdrops on children, according to The Washington Post, and a petition asking Mattel to drop the Barbie had attracted more than 37,000 signatures as of Monday afternoon.


David Monahan of The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood said the toy is vulnerable to hacking and thinks parents should be skeptical of ToyTalk’s “bug bounty” program.


“It is disturbing to think that the companies did not work out these flaws before releasing the doll to the public,” he said in an email to HuffPost. “Any parent allowing their child’s conversations with Hello Barbie to be recorded and shared with ToyTalk is apparently offering up sensitive information about their child to an experiment in the development of artificial-intelligence toys, with the likelihood that the information will end up in the hands of countless unknown parties.”

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


The best Cyber Monday deals on Apple products, accessories, and apps

Black Friday isn’t the only day to scoop up discounted Apple devices. While Apple isn’t doing anything to celebrate Cyber Monday, there are still plenty of deals to be found on the Cupertino company’s products—and accessories to go with them—from other retailers. Here are the best deals still available online only:

Target is offering 15 percent off its entire site, and that includes iPads.

Best Buy had a slew of Apple deals on Black Friday, and while its Cyber Monday selections aren’t quite as extensive, you can still pick up select MacBooks and iMacs for $100-$150 less than usual.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Jeddah Tower, el primer edificio con 1 kilómetro de altura, estará listo en 2020

Esta es la Jeddah Tower, antes conocida como la Kingdom Tower y originalmente la Mile-High Tower. Con 1008 metros no sólo será el edificio más alto del mundo, también el primero en alcanzar el kilómetro de altura. Tras asegurarse un fondo de 1230 millones de dólares este fin de semana, la torre es virtualmente una realidad.

Read more…







Adele’s ’25’ sells record-breaking 3.38 million copies

This CD cover image released by Columbia Records shows,

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Adele’s new album “25” has sold 3.38 million copies in its first week, smashing single week sales records, according to Nielsen Music.

As reported by Billboard, “25” is the first album to sell more than 3 million copies in one week in Nielsen’s history, which has been tracking first week purchases since 1991. The previous record was held by ‘NSYNC whose 2000 album “No Strings Attached” sold 2.4 million copies in its first week.

“25” has also become the best-selling album of the year, flying past the 1.8 million copies sold of Taylor Swift’s “1989.” Adele did not allow streaming services like Spotify to make “25” available.

Her previous album, “21” has sold 11.24 million copies in the United States.

Join the conversation about this story »






A Simple App for Building Process Templates and Checklists

A Simple Tool for Developing Process Templates and Standard Operating Procedures


High-quality apps that get the job performed are challenging to locate. When they are absolutely free, it really is even superior. Check this post around the very best workflow management computer software and get started becoming far more effective, managing your team extra correctly, and generating extra income.

Turing reneges on drug price cut, rival’s version sells well

FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, file photo, activists hold signs containing the image of Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli in front the building that houses Turing's offices, in New York, during a protest highlighting pharmaceutical drug pricing. After weeks of criticism from patients, doctors and even other drugmakers for hiking a life-saving medicine's price more than fiftyfold, Turing Pharmaceuticals is reneging on its pledge to cut the 0-per-pill price. But a competitor's 99-cent capsule version is selling well. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — After weeks of criticism from patients, doctors and other drugmakers for hiking a life-saving medicine’s price more than fifty-fold, Turing Pharmaceuticals is reneging on its pledge to cut the $750-per-pill price.

Instead, the small biotech company is reducing what it charges hospitals, by up to 50 percent, for its parasitic infection treatment, Daraprim. Most patients’ copayments will be capped at $10 or less a month. But insurers will be stuck with the bulk of the $750 tab. That drives up future treatment and insurance costs.

Daraprim is a 62-year-old pill whose patent expired decades ago. It’s the preferred treatment for a rare parasitic infection, toxoplasmosis, which mainly threatens people with weak immune systems, such as HIV and organ transplant patients, and pregnant women, because it can kill their baby.

Dr. Carlos del Rio, chairman of the HIV Medicine Association, called Turing’s changes “just window dressing.”

Turing’s move comes after a pharmacy that compounds prescription drugs for individual patients, Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, started selling a custom-made version for 99 cents per capsule. Those sales weren’t a factor in Turing’s pricing strategy, chief marketing officer Nancy Retzlaff said Wednesday.

Del Rio noted that while hospitals treat many patients initially, most are then treated at home for a couple months, so the lower hospital price doesn’t help.

“This medication can be made for pennies. They need to reduce the price to what it was before,” he said.

Turing, with offices in New York and Switzerland, bought U.S. rights to sell Daraprim in August, when it had no competition. Daraprim is one of numerous old drugs with limited competition whose makers have raised prices sharply.

A furor over Turing’s staggering price hike erupted, triggering multiple government investigations and pledges from politicians to rein in soaring prescription drug prices. Those include newly approved medicines costing around $100,000 a year and some old, formerly cheap generics.

Amid the heat, Turing CEO Martin Shkreli said he’d lower the price. Instead, the company just lowered hospitals’ price and is offering the option of buying 30-pill bottles instead of 100-pill bottles to reduce their costs to stock it. Shkreli wasn’t available for an interview.

Imprimis Chief Executive Officer Mark Baum said Wednesday in an exclusive interview that orders are pouring in for its version of Daraprim from doctors and the company has dispensed more than 2,500 capsules since Oct. 22.

He’s now working with insurers to get them to cover Imprimis’ capsules and will be talking with federal health agencies and members of Congress about changing current rules to allow the Defense Department and government health programs such as Medicare to cover so-called compounded medicines.

Imprimis also has begun selling capsules of another drug whose price was jacked up and is considering doing the same with dozens of now high-priced generic drugs for pain, heart disease, infections, skin and hormonal conditions and immune disorders.

Mass-produced drugs must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Imprimis, like other compounding pharmacies, instead makes up individual prescriptions using drug ingredients already approved — in this case pyrimethamine, Daraprim’s active ingredient, plus a second drug to limit its side effects.

Dr. Warren Dinges of the Seattle Infectious Diseases Clinic said he’s treating an HIV patient who got toxoplasmosis in his eye, damaging his vision. The man, an artist, tried to fill a prescription Dinges wrote for Daraprim but was told by his pharmacy that it wasn’t in stock and would cost about $27,000 for a month’s supply.

Dinges instead got Imprimis to make up a custom version for barely $100 per month.

“He was feeling great on Monday” at a checkup, with his symptoms much reduced, Dinges said.


Follow Linda A. Johnson

Join the conversation about this story »






Calm at Minneapolis protest site a night after shooting

Irma Burns, center, mother of Jamar Clark, is escorted from her son's casket during funeral services at Shiloh Temple International Ministries Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 in Minneapolis. A steady stream of mourners entered the north Minneapolis church on Wednesday to pay their respects to Clark, whose death in a confrontation with police sparked more than a week of protests. (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES LOCAL TELEVISION OUT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Hundreds of people filled a north Minneapolis church on Wednesday to pay their respects to a man whose death in a confrontation with police sparked more than a week of ongoing protests, as charges were pending against four men suspected in a melee that left five protesters with gunshot wounds.

A picture of a smiling Jamar Clark adorned the program for his funeral at the cavernous Shiloh Temple International Ministries. Inside, his obituary said the 24-year-old man “liked to swim, fish, listen to music, play basketball, be with family and take trips to Charlotte, North Carolina.”

Impassioned speeches from his relatives and pastors were occasionally interrupted by shouts and applause. The service also included a slideshow of pictures of Clark as he grew up. Several members of Clark’s family wore white T-shirts that read, “I matter,” on the front with Clark’s picture on the back.

“I’m still hurt,” said his sister, Sharice Burns. “I’m still suffering. We need justice sooner rather than later.”

Clark, who was black, died Nov. 15 in what police say was a scuffle with officers responding to an assault of a woman in which he was a suspect. Some community members who say they saw the incident allege Clark was handcuffed when he was shot, which police have disputed. A state criminal investigation and a federal civil rights probe are underway.

Bishop Richard Howell praised protesters for pressure that he said helped get a federal civil rights investigation and the names of the officers involved. Howell said what’s needed now is a special state legislative session to address the needs of Minnesota’s minority community.

“Jamar, your life did and does have purpose,” he said to a standing ovation. “Your death is not in vain.”

The funeral procession went past the 4th Precinct police station, where Black Lives Matters activists and others have been camped out for days protesting Clark’s death. Vehicles honked their horns, and protesters shouted “Justice for Jamar” in return.

Police have arrested four men — ages 27, 26, 23 and 21 — on suspicion of shooting five protesters after some tried to get the men to leave the site late Monday night. Police said three of the men are white; the fourth man’s race hasn’t been released.

Prosecutors are considering charges but won’t announce a decision before Monday, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

The shootings spurred a massive march Tuesday evening, with a racially mixed crowd marching more than 2 miles to City Hall and back. Hundreds of demonstrators milled quietly around portable fire pits to share coffee, pizza and doughnuts as music played.

The shootings have prompted safety concerns. Clark’s family has asked for protesters to end the 4th Precinct encampment, out of concern for their safety, and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said it would be wise to “start thinking about an exit strategy” and what to do next.

Steven Belton, interim president of the Minneapolis Urban League, echoed those sentiments, saying protesters had achieved most of what they wanted, including the federal investigation and the names of the officers involved. Belton said the vigil should end to “restore order” to the community, which he said has endured open gunfire, traffic and service interruptions, smoke from the protesters’ fires and hours of helicopter noise.

That likely won’t happen, said Jayme Ali, a pastor at God of All Truth Church. Outside the funeral, as mourners streamed past, Ali said another rally was planned. Protesters have demanded investigators release video of the Clark shooting, and Ali noted it took more than a year before Chicago on Tuesday released video of the fatal police shooting of a black teenager.

“We are not going nowhere. We are there until we get justice for Jamar Clark,” she said. “Fourth Precinct, start taking donations for a new building, because we are not going anywhere.”

Police haven’t released a possible motive for the shootings of the protesters, but the shootings followed several racially disparaging comments about the protests that were posted on social media in recent days. One video showed a white man brandishing a gun while claiming to be on his way to the protests. Police had issued a warning Friday night, asking demonstrators to be vigilant and report any suspicious behavior to authorities.


Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: . More of her work can be found at .

Join the conversation about this story »






A Surprisingly Simple App for Creating Process Templates and Standard Operating Procedures

A Hassle-Free Tool for Making Process Templates and SOPs


High quality apps that get the job completed are difficult to find. When they’re cost-free, it really is even improved. Check this post around the finest workflow management application and commence becoming much more efficient, managing your group more effectively, and producing much more income.