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Now for the connected body

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As the Internet of Things evolves and becomes the Internet of Us, Kaspersky Lab has teamed up with Swedish bio-hacking community BioNyfiken to uncover the realities of connecting our bodies to the Internet.

Once confined to Hollywood blockbusters and sci-fi novels, in 2015, the number of humans upgraded by technological devices is increasing in number. Thanks to the invention and wide-spread adoption of implantable aids such as pacemakers, insulin pumps, hearing aids and deep brain stimulation systems, the world is filling with humans who could be considered part machine.

However, recent media reports describe another breed of upgraded human, people who implant technology in their bodies not for medical reasons, but simply because of greater convenience in everyday life; people with smart implants that allow them to control door locks, make purchases and gain access to computer systems with the wave of a hand. The question then arises, when we allow our bodies to contain increasing amounts of personal, hackable data, is there cause for concern?

BioNyfiken, a Sweden based bio-hacking community, is leading the charge in normalising the chipping phenomenon and bringing it to the masses. Their view is that having a smart sub-dermal implant is not so different from wearing an earring or having a tattoo, and that an increasing number of people will choose to have NFC-compatible implants containing an array of information.

Patrick Mylund Nielsen, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab said “The trend within the Internet of Things has been to create products and get them to market fast. Security is often an afterthought, if it’s even a thought at all. And although bio-augmentation has been the topic of science fiction for as long as we can remember, not many stories dealt with its everyday implications: What happens when our private keys are under our skin? Can somebody become a virtual copy of me by shaking my hand? Who might be following me everywhere I go? “Nyfiken” means curious in Swedish, and when it comes to answering these questions, indeed we are.”

“The technology is already happening,” says Hannes Sjoblad, one of the founders of BioNyfiken. “We are seeing a fast-growing community of people experimenting with chip implants, which allow users to quickly and easily perform a variety of everyday tasks, such as allowing access to buildings, unlocking personal devices without PIN codes and enabling read access to various types of stored data.”

“I consider the take-off of this technology as another important interface-moment in the history of human-computer interaction, similar to the launches of the first windows desktop or the first touch screen. Identification by touch is innately natural for humans. PIN codes and passwords are not natural. And every additional device that we have to carry around to identify ourselves be it a key fob or a swipe card, is just another item that clutters our lives.”

“That’s why we felt it was crucial to work alongside a leading security expert that really understands the technology to help us analyse the risks. Kaspersky Lab is the ideal research partner for BioNyfiken. They are not only highly regarded security experts and thought leaders, but have been at the forefront of emerging technologies and cutting edge research from their inception.”

“We look forward to working alongside Kaspersky Lab experts in an open research project to explore the vulnerabilities of these chips in everyday, human-user situations and if vulnerabilities are found, it will of course be necessary to identify ways to tackle them.”

Further to its research with BioNyfiken, Kaspersky Lab will be co-hosting events with the broader bio-hacking community in Sweden and across Europe, aiming to put security and privacy aspects on the agenda. There are already a number of hi-tech buildings in Sweden, such as Epicenter, catering to forward thinking business where NFC implants are regularly used for a range of activities, replacing additional devices.

Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, remarked: “Personally, I’d rather not be chipped. I do however understand that technological progress cannot be hindered and there will be innovators who are ready to accept the risk and test the limits of technology by experimenting on their own bodies. I’d just rather they did this with their eyes open and with security at the forefront of their minds, instead of as a retrofit after-thought, as so often occurs.”

“That’s why I’m pleased that BioNyfiken has chosen us to work with on investigating the security implications of connecting our bodies to the web. It might be that our researchers find no concerns, but if people are going to have NFC chips inside them, I’d want to be sure that the experts had thoroughly investigated all the ramifications”.

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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