New Coating for Devices Would Make Them Much More Resistant

Good news for the safety of electronics, especially with regards to their potential exposure to liquids.

Sometimes our phones end up in the toilet bowl, or laptops end up covered in tea. It happens.

But if they were coated with an ‘omniphobic’ material, like the one created by a team of University of Michigan researchers, your devices would be a lot more likely to come out unscathed.

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This everything-proof material works by combining fluorinated polyurethane and fluorodecyl polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (F-POSS).

F-POSS has an extremely low surface energy, which means that things don’t stick to it.

The coating developed by the team stands out from other similar materials because of the clever way these two ingredients work together, forming a more durable product.

“In the past, researchers might have taken a very durable substance and a very repellent substance and mixed them together,” Tuteja said.

“But this doesn’t necessarily yield a durable, repellent coating.”

But these two materials have combined so well, they ended up with a durable coating that can repeal everything – oil, water, or anything else the researchers threw at it.

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Although this all sounds amazing, this incredible coating won’t be available quite yet – F-POSS is rare and expensive right now, although that is changing as manufacturers scale up the product, which should lower the cost.

New Haven App Uses a Smartphone to Guard Devices

Haven looks useful for more than it was designed for too, of course. Someone looking to secure a room in general could use the app to identify any unauthorized visitors.

It’s still in the early stages of development, but it’s one of the most promising attempts at defending against evil mail attacks for those with heightened threat models.

LIKE MANY OTHER journalists, activists, and software developers I know, I carry my laptop everywhere while I’m traveling. It contains sensitive information; messaging app conversations, email, password databases, encryption keys, unreleased work, web browsers  logged into various accounts, and so on. My disk is encrypted, but all it takes to bypass this protection is for an attacker — a malicious hotel housekeeper, or “evil maid,” for example — to spend a few minutes physically tampering with it without my knowledge. If I come back and continue to use my compromised computer, the attacker could gain access to everything.

Edward Snowden and his friends have a solution. The NSA whistleblower and a team of collaborators have been working on a new open source Android app called Haven that you install on a spare smartphone, turning the device into a sort of sentry to watch over your laptop. Haven uses the smartphone’s many sensors — microphone, motion detector, light detector, and cameras — to monitor the room for changes, and it logs everything it notices. The first public beta version of Haven has officially been released; it’s available in the Play Store and on F-Droid, an open source app store for Android.

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You can configure Haven to send you real-time encrypted alerts of what it detects to your other phone, the one you carry with you, when an intrusion is detected. You can choose to get encrypted Signal notifications, and you can also configure Haven to run a Tor onion service website (that is, a darknet site), and use Tor Browser on another device to connect in and view all of the alerts — all without giving anyone else access to these evidence logs unless you choose to share them. Haven also supports SMS text notifications, which can be intercepted but which might be more reliable in some situations.

Keylogger Discovered on Hundreds of HP Laptops

You should fix this via a patch update if you’re affected. This is sadly not the first time that HP has been discovered to have shipped their computers with significant vulnerabilities either.

Hewlett Packard has issued an emergency patch to resolve a driver-level keylogger discovered on hundreds of HP laptops.

The bug was discovered by Michael Myng, also known as “ZwClose.” The security researcher was exploring the Synaptics Touchpad SynTP.sys keyboard driver and how laptop keyboards were backlit and stumbled across code which looked suspiciously like a keylogger.

In a blog post, ZwClose said the keylogger, which saved scan codes to a WPP trace, was found in the driver.

While logging was disabled by default, given the right permissions, it could be enabled through changing registry values and so should a laptop be compromised by malware, malicious code — including Trojans — could take advantage of the keylogging system to spy on users.