Categories
Security

Yubico key organizer keeps your house keys tidy and your YubiKey security key safe

Yubico has teamed up with Keyport on a new key organizer that’s designed to safely stash your YubiKey security key (a small dongle that can act as an extra layer of security for your logins) alongside your house keys in one compact little enclosure.

It’s a neat idea. My house keys have to put up with a lot of abuse from being carried around in my pockets and stuffed in the bottom of backpacks. And while I’m not too worried about a set of metal keys surviving this kind of treatment, I wouldn’t say not to a little more protection for a USB dongle that I need to access my most secure accounts. YubiKeys are built like tanks, but nothing’s invincible.

The $25 Yubico x Keyport Pivot 2.0 key organizer appears to have been released earlier this month, and it’s functionally a very similar accessory to Keyport’s existing Pivot 2.0 organizer. The differences appear to amount to a small Yubico logo on its outside, and Yubico’s website also notes that this version doesn’t include Keyport’s lost and found service.

Alongside a YubiKey security key, the organizer has space for up to seven other key-sized items. As well as keys, Keyport sells a variety of tools that are designed to sit in its holders, like multi-tools, mini-flashlights, and pens. Compatible YubiKeys include the 5 Series, as well as its new Bio Series, which are activated using a fingerprint.

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Categories
Computing

Suspected Cannabis Grow House Turns Out to Be a Bitcoin Farm

During a May 18 raid in the U.K., West Midlands Police expected to find a cannabis growing operation after learning about a site stealing electricity on the Great Bridge Industrial Estate. Instead, they found about 100 computers mining cryptocurrency.

The BBC reports that detectives received a tip prior to the raid. Onlookers said that they saw multiple people visiting the site throughout the day and police drones picked up a lot of heat coming from the building — typically a sign of a growing operation. Western Power Distribution also found that the site was illegally connected to its grid, stealing “thousands of pounds [worth of] of electricity.”

BBC

“It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation setup,and I believe it is only the second such crypto mine we have encountered in the West Midlands,” Sgt. Jennifer Griffin said. The authorities seized the computers but didn’t make any arrests.

Crypto-mining operations are becoming a problem not only in the U.K., but around the world. In 2018, New York allowed some power providers to start charging higher fees to crypto miners. In March 2021, New York introduced a bill that would ban mining for three years while the state evaluated the environmental impact.

These measures come in response to the growing climate problem surrounding mining coins like Ethereum. Some scientists say that increased demand for cryptocurrency has already negated the effects of using electric vehicles.

Recent reports show some mining operations bringing in over $20,000 per month, and Nvidia, whose GPUs are frequently at the heart of these mining operations, earns upwards of $400 million each year from crypto miners.

It’s not just private operations, either. One of Russia’s largest oil producers set up a Bitcoin mining farm in Siberia last year that’s entirely powered by gas.

With the price of multiple cryptocurrencies hitting all-time highs, we’re still not sure if demand — in terms of power and coins — will continue to grow. With volatility in currencies like Bitcoin, some investors think the market is showing a repeat of 2014 and 2018, where high volatility caused mass selloffs and devalued the coin.

Regardless, it looks like cannabis farms aren’t the only thing police have to worry about when it comes to stolen electricity.

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Categories
Security

White House now says 100 companies hit by SolarWinds hack, but more may be impacted

The US government has released updated figures on the number of companies and federal agencies it believes were impacted by the recent SolarWinds hack. “As of today, 9 federal agencies and about 100 private sector companies were compromised,” Deputy National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger said in a briefing, though she declined to name specific organizations. Although the hack was “likely of Russian origin,” Neuberger said the hackers launched their attack from inside the US.

The latest figures revealed are lower than the 250 federal agencies and businesses that were previously reported to have been infected, though Neuberger cautioned that the investigation is still in its “beginning stages” and that “additional compromises” may be found. In particular, the technology companies compromised gives hackers potential footholds for future attacks. Up to 18,000 SolarWinds customers are thought to have originally received the malicious code, though hackers did not attempt to gain additional access to all of them.

The hack originally came to light late last year, when it emerged that hackers had compromised SolarWinds’ monitoring and management software, which is used by multiple government agencies and Fortune 500 companies, Bloomberg notes. Companies including Intel, Nvidia, Cisco, Belkin, and VMWare have all reportedly seen computers on their networks infected, as well as the US Treasury, Commerce, State, Energy, and Homeland Security departments.

The scale of the attack means that it may be many months before the government completes its investigation. As part of the process, Neuberger said the government is planning an executive action to fix the security problems identified, and that “discussions are underway” about how to respond to the perpetrator.

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Categories
Tech News

White House plans podcast-like weekly chats with President Biden

The Biden administration is bringing back weekly addresses from the president, but with a twist that may appeal to modern, younger audiences. According to the White House, the new weekly chats will have an informal podcast-like style, mimicking the sort of casual chats the public is used to hearing in popular audio shows.

On Saturday, the White House published the first of Biden’s planned weekly chats, which was shared in a video on its YouTube channel. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that these chats will include ‘a variety of formats,’ some of them a traditional presidential address, others more casual with everyday Americans who were selected ahead of time.

In the first weekly chat (above), President Biden spoke with Californian Michele Voelkert about her struggles to get unemployment after getting laid off last year, as well as the effort to find a new job. The conversation also included talk about online school, which has replaced traditional schooling during the pandemic.

The idea behind these new digital, online weekly chats is that the average person will be able to engage with the content using the platforms they’re used to. The Biden team embraced digital and alternative formats over traditional methods due to the pandemic; it makes sense that the administration would continue with this more modern alternative.

Weekly presidential addresses have been something of a traditional, but an inconsistent one, with some presidents regularly engaging with the populace in this way and others abandoning it. President Obama was the most recent president to regularly conduct weekly addresses, a practice that persisted for only a short time during Trump’s term.

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