Saturday, 31 October 2015


Towering Architecture: 10 Incredible Tower Houses Rising High Above the Norm
By Leah Gonzalez,
The Coolist, 29 October 2015.

Not every home needs to be horizontal. A handful of daring designers have broken the mold to build up instead of out. These designers and their engineer counterparts haven rise to the challenge by creating towering structures that stand out from the rest. In this list, we take a look at how the tower concept is applied to housing design.

From creative tower restorations to inventive new structures, these 10 homes are fine examples of how towers can be transformed into modern living spaces.

1. A Vacation Tower House That Leads Up to the Treetops


Built by architecture firm GLUCK+, this small tower house is a vacation house set in a wooded area and its structure is inspired by the trees that surround it. The first three floors of the vacation house only include a small bedroom and a small private bath. The top floor spreads out like the forest canopy and houses the living spaces where the inhabitants are provided with views of the mountains and lakes. 


The vacation tower house also boasts of glass-enclosed stairs and a green enamel back-painted glass exterior that reflects its surroundings.

2. A Futuristic-Looking Tower House of Steel and Glass


The Skysphere Tiny House, designed by graphic designer Jono Williams, is a structure that looks like a water tower but is actually a living space and bedroom. Willliams designed and built the Skysphere himself. He also automated the structure with an Android operating system.


Lighting, climate control, music and entertainment, and even the locks can be controlled via Android. The Skysphere does not include a kitchen and a bathroom though Williams plans to build a small external bathroom nearby.

3. A Water Tower Transformed Into a “Man Cave”


New York-based architecture firm Messana O’Rorke turned a water tower on the roof deck of their client’s downtown apartment into a space for relaxation. The firm, initially hired to renovate the client’s bathroom, conducted a full renovation of the entire apartment and that included the installation of a custom stainless steel spiral stair leading up to the new “Tank House” or the former water tower.


The Tank House, a quiet space with maple floors, sparse furniture, and 12-foot tall window, is essentially the city dweller’s urban treehouse.

4. A Towering Tiny House Overlooking a Riverside Retreat


The Delta Cabin by AToT is a small cube-framed structure that is raised above the ground by nine concrete pillars - a design that is deliberate since the house stands near a river.


The raised cube house consists of two floors - an enclosed lower floor with a dining and living area, a bedroom and a bathroom, and an open top floor with a patio that provides views of the surroundings.

5. A Water Tower Transformed Into a 21st Century Home


Zecc Architecten converted a water tower that dates back to 1931 into a modern house spanning nine levels. To let more natural light in and to provide a view of the back courtyard, the firm created a window frame that spans three levels.


The tower house also features a lot of steel, concrete and glass to maintain the industrial aesthetics of the interior. The tower includes a sleeping area, living area, sauna and bath, children’s bedroom, guest room, dining and kitchen – all spread out in the different levels.

6. A Tower House on a Wooded Hilltop Above a Lake


This Glen Lake Tower House by Balance Associates is a three-story plywood house raised by two metal-clad walls. The tower features detailed steel stairs that bring visitors from the lower ground to the open living space on the fourth level.


The fourth level includes the kitchen, living and dining space and features glass walls all around to provide views of the landscape. Each upper level of the tower house has its own deck.

7. A Water Tower Converted Into a Private House


The Water Tower Brasschaat project by Crepain Binst Architecture turned an old unused water tower on the grounds of the manor of Brasschaat into a modern private residence. The old water tower was made of concrete and consisted of a cylindrical water reservoir raised by four concrete pillars with square platforms placed between the pillars.


The converted tower home is a six-level structure with a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, study, guest room and conservatory. The tower also features glazed wall enclosures and a narrow steel staircase. The water reservoir at the top is not being used but is accessible.

8. A Penthouse Built on a Historic Ski Jump


Norway’s Holmenkollen ski jump, used in the 1952 Winter Olympics, was turned into a penthouse and rented out for a single weekend via AirBnb. The ski jump provided a 200-foot incline for ski jumpers so you can probably imagine the view from its peak.


The penthouse features glass walls, a deck and interior furnishings that reflect the era. The penthouse was part of an AirBnb promotion in March.

9. A Napoleonic Defense Tower Converted Into a Family Home


The Martello Tower home by architects Piercy & Company is a Napoleonic era sea defense tower that was converted into a family home. Transforming the old defense tower was a challenge not only because of its existing structure - 12-foot thick brick walls and no windows - but also because it is on the “at-risk” register and it was important to preserve its heritage.


The converted tower home features a curved lightweight roof made of steel and laminated plywood and held in place by Macalloy bars. The roof is complemented with a frameless curved glass skirt below it to provide the inhabitants with scenic views. Three bedrooms, two baths and two study areas are on the ground level and a circular stair leads up to the kitchen, dining and living space on the top level.

10. A Modern Home in the Shape of a Monolithic Tower


The Cien House by Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen (Pezo von Ellrichshausen) is a seven-story concrete tower that houses the architects’ living quarters and their studio. Since the tower is located on a hillside, the first two levels of the tower are partially submerged and includes a basement workshop and living spaces on the ground level.


The work spaces and living quarters are housed in the five upper floors and are connected by two different wooden spiral stairs. One staircase leads from the main living area to lounge and bedroom areas on the two levels directly above. The other staircase leads to the topmost three levels that contain the work spaces for the architecture firm. On the outside the Cien House looks like a plain concrete tower but on the inside it’s all wooden walls and wooden furnishings.

These stunning tower homes can certainly make you realize that towers are not just all about skyscrapers, urban high-rises or steel spires.

Top image: Holmenkollen ski jump penthouse. Credit: AirBnb.

[Source: The Coolist. Edited. Some links added.]


Watch this mega machine erect a bridge
By Casey Chan,
Sploid, 29 October 2015.

There’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to the construction of a bridge. Like, how do you build a bridge without the help of a bridge? The easiest way? This SLJ900 machine. It moves in coordinated parts to deftly erect a bridge or viaduct, balancing its weight on the beams before laying out the groundwork. It’s really cool to see it slide across and pop out.


And an animation detailing how it works:

[Source: Sploid.]


Week's Best Space Pictures: Stars Kiss and Black Holes Flash
By Michael Greshko,
National Geographic News, 30 October 2015.

Feed your need for heavenly views of the universe with our pick of the most awe-inspiring space pictures. This week, a snake of plasma slithers across the Sun, NASA scientists prep for the cold, and the early universe’s chemistry gets a close-up.

1. In a Flash


An artist’s impression of Mrk 335, a supermassive black hole that produces X-ray flares. A recent study suggests that it flashes because of the collapse of its corona, a shroud of high-energy particles that surrounds black holes.

2. Caked Alaska


NASA’s Terra satellite snaps a photo of a wintry Alaska on October 16, 2015. Point Barrow, the northernmost location in the U.S., is visible near the top of the image. The Brooks Range, a northern extension of the Rocky Mountains, spans the south.

3. Stirred Well


A visible-light photo of the Virgo galaxy cluster. A recent X-ray survey of the cluster revealed that the elements necessary for stars, planets, and life were evenly distributed across the universe more than 10 billion years ago.

4. Cooler Than Cool


NASA engineer Chris Gunn conducts inspections before the final super cold test for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). When it launches in 2018, the JWST will operate in space at -387 degrees Fahrenheit, colder than liquid nitrogen.

5. Early Risers


A Hubble Space Telescope photo of the MAS0717 galaxy cluster. Astronomers recently examined MAS0717 and two other clusters and found 252 tiny galaxies that existed less than 900 million years after the Big Bang.

6. After the Storm


The southeastern U.S., as imaged by NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite. Heavy rains swamped the region in October, and the run-off carried sediment and other materials into coastal waters - seen here as the colourful swirls near the coast.

7. Star-Crossed Lovers


An artist’s impression of VFTS 352, the hottest, most massive binary system ever found with two touching stars. In the end, the kissing stars will either merge into a single giant star or form a pair of black holes.

8. Solar Serpent


NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captures a massive filament of plasma snaking above the Sun’s surface, tethered in place by magnetic forces. The filament appears dark in extreme ultraviolet light, as the Sun is imaged here.

[Source: National Geographic News. Edited. Some links added.]

Friday, 30 October 2015


10 Famous People Who Vanished Without a Trace
By Morris M,
Urban Ghosts Media, 29 October 2015.

In a world as vast and mysterious as ours, it’s perhaps no surprise that things can sometimes just vanish. Great cities, monuments, and priceless works of art have all disappeared into the ether… as have people.

Against all logic, some of the most-famous faces of our times have managed to evade discovery; seemingly slipping through cracks in reality into a lost, unknowable dimension. Where did these people go, and why did they choose to disappear? We may never know.

1. Lord Lucan

Image: via Wikipedia

On November 7, 1974, the Lucan family home in London witnessed one of the most-brutal murders of the period. A nanny, Sandra Rivett, was bludgeoned to death in the basement with a piece of lead pipe. The lady of the house, Lady Lucan, was also viciously attacked. When interviewed by police, she named her estranged husband John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, as the assailant.

A professional gambler, Lord Lucan was a paranoid obsessive who had spent the years since their divorce spying on his ex-wife. Only the day before, he’d had a public meltdown after a cat he brought for his children had its throat cut, blaming Lady Lucan. After the murder of Sandra Rivett, Lucan was last seen driving a Ford Corsair in East Sussex. The car itself was found hours later, its interior dripping with blood. Of Lord Lucan himself there was no sign.

Since then, the peer’s whereabouts has become an infamous British mystery. Some think he committed suicide following the attack, hurling himself into the Channel. Others believe he used a private airfield to fly away to safety. In the intervening years, there have been sightings in Goa, South Africa, Gabon and Colombia, but none have been confirmed. No body has ever surfaced.

2. Richey Edwards

Image: Manics4real

The story of the vanished Manic Street Preachers guitarist and lyricist Richey Edwards is as tragic as they come. A lifelong depressive, Edwards was known to self-harm, routinely stubbing cigarettes out on his skin and cutting himself. In one interview, he took a razor blade and carved the words 4 REAL into his own arm after a journalist questioned his integrity. He was open about the fact that he often felt so bad he couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings.

Then, in February 1995, things seemed to come to a head. In the two preceding weeks, Edwards had withdrawn £200 a day from his bank account. Finally, on the 1st of the month, Edwards drove from London to his apartment in Wales. He was never seen again.

Because his car was found two weeks later near the notorious Severn Bridge suicide hotspot, its often been thought Edwards simply couldn’t handle life anymore and chose to check out early. Those who knew him say he would never do such a thing. As things currently stand, he’s officially considered missing presumed dead. No sightings have ever been reported.

3. Harold Holt


It’s strange enough to imagine a rock star and a wanted murderer disappearing, let alone a head of state. But that’s exactly what happened in Australia in 1967. On December 17, Prime Minister Harold Holt and some friends travelled to secluded Cheviot Beach to go swimming. Despite the strong riptides and a shoulder injury, Holt decided to go into the water. Ignoring the pleas of his friends, he stepped in and promptly vanished from history.

The most-likely explanation is that Holt drowned and the vicious currents swept his body out to sea. Some think this is exactly what he intended to happen and the whole thing was a suicide attempt. However, others believe he faked his own death and disappeared. Despite one of the largest search and rescue operations ever mounted, Holt’s body was never recovered. Some believe a waiting Communist submarine picked him up and scooted him to safety, as part of a well-organized defection. Others just throw in the towel and claim aliens did it. Whatever the truth, no trace of Holt has ever been found.

4. D. B. Cooper


D. B. Cooper is perhaps the only person on this list whose primary claim to fame is their disappearance. To this day, we don’t actually know who he was, or if anyone with that name ever really existed. All we know is that he hijacked an airliner with a bunch of explosives, demanded US$200,000 and a parachute, then leapt out the plane over Mount St. Helens. What happened to him - or his money - is anybody’s guess.

The FBI’s favoured theory is that he died in the fall. Doing a parachute jump isn’t as easy as it looks, and doing a parachute jump in the dead of night, in the driving rain, in the middle of winter, with no visibility and your safety chute sewn shut smacks of insanity. However, plenty of others disagree and the list of suspects is astonishingly long. Freakily, neither Cooper’s body nor the parachute were ever recovered - although some of the money did turn up in 1980. The theories as to where D. B. Cooper went or what he did if he survived are even more numerous than the suspects.

5. Dorothy Arnold

Image: via Wikipedia

How can someone vanish in a crowd of people? That’s the question many have asked about Dorothy Arnold, a wealthy New York socialite who disappeared in 1910. Rather than being snatched in the night, though, Dorothy disappeared in the middle of the day in a city full of people.

On December 12, Dorothy left the house to go shopping for her sister’s “coming out” ball (a phrase with a very different meaning in 1910). She was repeatedly sighted along Fifth Avenue, where she spoke to shopkeepers and exchanged greetings with friends. Then she took a stroll to Central Park, waved goodbye to an acquaintance and was never seen or heard from again.

Predictably, the theories about her fate are too numerous to count. Some think she was murdered in the park, others that she secretly went to an abortion doctor that afternoon and bled to death on the table. It’s been suggested that a possible lover of hers, George Griscom, may have killed her, or she may have been abducted by her own parents after they discovered she was pregnant and forcibly sent abroad to save the family name. But it could be something else entirely. As with many on this list, we’ll probably never know.

6. Oscar Zeta Acosta

Image: via Wikipedia

The hard-drinking, hard-smoking, hard-living Chicano activist lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta is today most-(in)famous for being Hunter S. Thompson’s crazed attorney in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Addicted to drugs, pleasure and risk taking, Acosta earned that reputation the hard way. There’s another side to his story, though, one equally as interesting as his life: his death, or rather, lack of it. In 1974, three years after Thompson’s book was published, Acosta disappeared in Mexico.

There are two popular theories. One is that the notorious firebrand attorney made one too many enemies, and was murdered. The other is that he got caught up in a drug deal that went sour and wound up becoming a casualty. The fact that he almost certainly died in 1974 didn’t stop stories from surfacing. In his 1977 essay the Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat, Hunter Thompson himself even reported on a rumour that Acosta had later been seen alive, manically piloting a speedboat away from a drug shootout in the ocean.

7. Ambrose Bierce


At age 71, Ambrose Bierce had apparently had enough of life. The journalist and writer of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge was known for his bitter pronouncements and general grumpiness. But his last pronouncement may have topped them all. In 1913, he declared that he was going to move to Mexico.

At the time, Mexico was in the grips of a bloody revolution. Thousands upon thousands were dying, villages were being destroyed, and the social fabric was being torn to shreds. It was the equivalent of deciding in the modern day to spontaneously move to Damascus or Donetsk. In his last letter before he vanished off into this vortex of violence, Bierce wrote to his family, saying: “if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs.”

After he left, he was never heard from again. A number of scholars believe he died in the siege of Ojinaga in January 1914. Others that he never actually reached Mexico, but instead committed suicide - the move just a cover up to spare his family the shame.

8. Jim Thompson

Image: via Wikipedia

The life and disappearance of Jim Thompson is the stuff of Hollywood fiction. A former OSS agent (the precursor to the CIA), he settled in Thailand after World War Two and became a millionaire celebrity, thanks to his work reforming the Thai silk industry. Then one day in March 1967, he went out for a short walk near a friend’s house in the mountains of Malaysia. He never returned.

Thanks to his fame and power, one of the biggest manhunts in history was launched. Yet nothing was found. An experienced hiker, it seemed unlikely Thompson would have gotten lost or fallen amid the terrain. Nor did he have any reason to fake his death. People quickly began to suspect he was still working for American intelligence, and had been abducted and possibly killed by Communist insurgents. If this was the case, however, no evidence has ever surfaced.

More likely is the theory that a local driver knocked him down and hastily buried the body in a shallow grave. But even then, you’d expect the searchers to have uncovered some evidence. With so much time now having passed since Jim Thompson’s disappearance, it’s doubtful we’ll ever know.

9. Jean Spangler

Image: via Wikipedia

On October 7, 1949, 26-year old American model, dancer and bit-part actress Jean Spangler vanished. What followed is one of the murkiest missing person cases in American history.

Jean’s last-known movements were going to see her controlling ex-husband Dexter, who had a motive for murdering her after she got full custody of their daughter. However, Dexter had a good alibi for the day Jean disappeared, seemingly ruling out his involvement. Then there was Jean’s purse. Discovered in a park, it included a note to “Kirk” that read:  “Can’t wait any longer, Going to see Dr. Scott.  It will work best this way while mother is away.” No sooner had the note been discovered than film star Kirk Douglas contacted the police to assure them it didn’t refer to him.

The fact he got in contact when he wasn’t under suspicion conversely made some people think the star was involved. Jean had been working on a movie Douglas was making, although Douglas didn’t know her personally. Then there was Dr Scott. Supposedly a backstreet abortion doctor (in those days abortion was still illegal), Scott was never properly identified. To top it off, Jean was later reported to have been seen staying in a hotel with a notorious mobster wanted on conspiracy charges only two days before he vanished too.

So what happened? There are so many theories you can take your pick. Some think Dexter had the mob bump her off. Others that she got a backstreet abortion and died on the table. Others still suggest that she fell in love with a mobster, who was forced to flee the country and took Jean with him.

10. Nefertiti

Image: Philip Pikart

The queen of Egypt in the 14th century BC, Nefertiti is also one of the greatest mysteries facing modern historians. Head of the cult of Aten and married to Amenhotep IV, she was beautiful (her name literally means “a beautiful woman has come”) and stunningly powerful. Her husband treated her as an equal in all matters, making her effectively joint ruler of Egypt and its people. Yet 12 years after she ascended the throne, something strange happened. All references to Nefertiti disappeared completely.

What’s left now is a strange gap in the historical record as mystifying as any recent disappearance. Did she die? Was she sent into exile when worship of the deity Amen-Ra came back into fashion? Others have even wilder theories. It’s been proposed Nefertiti was elevated to a true co-ruler and began dressing as a man; or that after her husband died she became known as Pharaoh Smenkhkare and ruled Egypt by herself.

Whether or not any of these rumours are true we can no longer say. All we know for sure is that this is a mystery - like the others on this list - that may never be solved.

Top image via 10 Awesome.

[Source: Urban Ghosts Media. Edited. Top image added.]


10 Surprising Things Vulnerable To Hackers
By Nathan Willey,
Listverse, 30 October 2015.

With technology taking over more of our daily lives, an increasing number of things are vulnerable to hacking. It’s a problem that will only get worse because many companies offer lax protection or ignore cyber security altogether. Anything with a microchip is at risk, even some things you wouldn’t expect.

10. Any Device In Your Body

Your heart belongs to you...unless you have a pacemaker. Then it can be hacked. In fact, any medical device in your body that is connected to the Internet is vulnerable. It’s not a matter of speculation, either, because it’s already happened.

At the 2011 Black Hat Technical Security Conference, security expert Jerome Radcliffe hacked his own insulin pump to demonstrate the device’s vulnerability. He remotely disrupted the wireless signals sent to his pump, swapped the data being captured about his condition with fake data, and sent it back. Radcliffe obviously didn’t tamper with his device enough to put his health at risk, but changing the dose of insulin could have easily put him in a coma or even killed him.

Radcliffe is not the only person doing this kind of research. Barnaby Jack, a researcher for McAfee, found a way to scan for and compromise any pumps within a range of 90 meters (300 ft) using their wireless links.

The same thing is possible with heart defibrillators. When they are first implanted, the devices are tested using a radio signal that turns the defibrillator on and off. Researchers found that it was also possible to capture the signal and rebroadcast it to turn a defibrillator on and off remotely.

9. Toilets

A top-of-the-line Japanese toilet has been found to be extremely vulnerable to even the most basic attempt at hacking. Advertised in the US as defining “toilet innovation,” Satis toilets use a smartphone app called “My Satis” to control them. But in a mind-numbingly obvious oversight, the app uses the same Bluetooth PIN to link to every toilet.

So what can a toilet hacker do to you? The most basic hack would cause your toilet to flush constantly and send your water bill sky-high. The toilet also has an air purifier, automatic lid, in-bowl spotlight, and built-in sound module to cover up the sounds of doing your business. If a hacker catches you on the commode, they could manipulate these features, which Satis has admitted may cause “discomfort and distress to [the] user” as well as increase your electricity bill. However, the toilet costs US$4,000, so anyone who can afford one can probably also pay skyrocketing water and electricity bills.

But the worst hack on a Satis toilet might just be the two-nozzle bidet spray, which shoots jets of water at you in lieu of using toilet paper. At best, it would be inconvenient to have this happen unexpectedly. At worst, it’s embarrassing to know that someone is invading one of your most private moments.

8. The Emergency Broadcast System

Photo credit: Z22

Montana’s Emergency Alert System once warned its television viewers that “the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living.” The alert was quickly pulled, and the TV station apologized, explaining that their Emergency Alert System had been hacked.

The prank happened in several other places, too, including one in Michigan during an airing of the children’s show Barney. These were the first hacks of the system because it used to be telephone-based. But within a year of launching a web-based system, hackers saw it as a potential target and broke in.

The pranks proved to be harmless, but the system’s vulnerabilities became public knowledge, especially the fact that several models of Emergency Alert System decoders could be easily hijacked. The zombie apocalypse messages were clearly fakes, but more serious messages with dangerous consequences could easily be broadcast to the public. If false alarms were raised enough times, people might even start to ignore them.

Although the company that made the systems had fixed another flaw to stop hackers, the zombie attack message proved that the systems were still susceptible to human error. Many users forgot to change the default passwords, which was how these breaches happened.

7. Almost Everything At Your Hospital


If you’re in the hospital and there’s an Ethernet cable connecting your equipment to the Internet, that equipment is probably extremely vulnerable to hackers. By searching for simple medical terms on Shodan, a search engine for finding Internet-connected devices, researchers were able to locate machines like MRIs, X-ray scanners, and infusion pumps. In fact, just about anything connected to the Internet in the hospital is at risk, whether by design or configuration error. But what the researchers discovered next was even more startling.

Much of the medical equipment was using the same default passwords throughout different models of the devices. In some cases, manufacturers warned their customers that changing default passwords could make the equipment ineligible for support because the support teams use those passwords for servicing purposes. Cyber security experts were easily able to make a cloud of most frequent logins and passwords.

To see how many medical devices were compromised, the researchers set up 10 computers that looked like medical systems to lure hackers. They got 55 successful login attempts, 24 exploits, and 299 malware samples.

The hacks can be used for many things. The scariest would be hackers changing medication dosages remotely, which a few patients have already done on-site. Medical records can be altered, which could lead to patients not receiving the proper treatments. Phishing scams would also be easy to craft. Even using internal health provider networks, the researchers were able to access host names, descriptions and locations of equipment, and the physicians assigned to that equipment.

6. Smart Homes

With the smart home industry in its infancy, a lot of the technology just isn’t up to modern cyber security standards. In 2015, a security company tested 16 home automation devices and found only one that they couldn’t easily hack. Things like cameras and thermostats lacked the most basic security measures. It’s worrisome for a number of reasons, including cyber criminals using your patterns of behaviour to put your safety at risk.

Home owners using smartphone apps to control their houses from a distance are especially vulnerable to breaking and entering. One Forbes reporter found that a string of keywords that could be crawled by search engines led to the systems of some residents winding up on the Internet’s search results for anyone to control.

A hacker could easily open the person’s garage door to enter their home. The particular model that allowed this exploit was recalled, but other systems had a security oversight that let them be controlled by anyone on the same Wi-Fi network.

The vulnerabilities extended to just about every home device connected wirelessly. One hacker took control of a family’s baby monitor and started shouting expletives at their two-year-old daughter. It didn’t bother the girl much since she was deaf, but other cases of hacked baby monitors have not been so benign.

5. Gas Pumps


Fearing that gas pumps connected to the Internet could be vulnerable to hacking, cyber security researchers set up fake gas pumps to lure hackers. The researchers quickly found that their fears were justified. Within six months, there were 23 different attacks.

Studies show that there are already gas pumps that have been modified by hackers. So far, the changes haven’t been harmful, but they could have been. The research turned up two denial-of-service attacks that could have disrupted inventory and led to shortages. Four others were pump modifications, and 12 were identification changes, which could alter pump names and cause the wrong type of fuel to flow into a tank. In some instances, this could ruin a car’s engine.

The honeypots (fake devices) were set up all over the world, proving that it’s a global problem. Many automated tank gauges (ATGs) - which monitor volume, temperature, and water content of underground gas tanks - don’t have passwords.

With the documentation of ATGs available to anyone online, it’s a simple task to invade and disrupt service. The researchers found that the US and Jordan suffered the most honeypot attacks and believe that the Syrian Electronic Army or Iranian Dark Coder could be behind them.

4. Airport Security


Cyber security experts are now warning that an airport’s security network could be completely shut down by hackers. Many of the security machines, such as X-ray scanners and itemisers (explosive detectors), have passwords built into their software. Anyone with the username and password could log on and get access to an airport network. Hackers could also manipulate an X-ray machine to hide weapons or steal data on how to bypass security. Itemisers could likewise be compromised.

After the vulnerability was discovered, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about the passwords, but experts warn that some airports may have already been breached. In 2015, a security firm claimed that an Iranian group hacked supposedly secure information from several airports. The firm warned that anyone with a copy of an airport’s emergency plan could find ways to overcome it. They worry about the potential risk of terrorism and how a group could use that knowledge to plan an attack.

Groups like ISIS have already hacked the website of Hobart International Airport, defacing it with a statement supporting the group. Polish airline LOT was forced to cancel or delay flights after their computers that issued flight plans were hit with a distributed denial-of-service attack.

3. Airplanes


Even if airport security fixes its vulnerabilities, an actual airplane can still be hacked. To search for back doors, one researcher bought original parts from an aviation supplier to simulate the data exchange between passenger jets and air traffic controllers. He demonstrated that security is so weak that a smartphone equipped with a self-made app is enough to gain access to a variety of aircraft systems. Terrorists don’t need a bomb to crash an airplane because they can take control of the plane’s steering and direct it into the nearest building.

IT expert Chris Roberts claims to have penetrated the entertainment system of a passenger jet and manipulated its engines during a flight. He did so by hooking up his laptop to the Seat Electronic Box, which is usually under each passenger seat. Through that, he claims he was able to enter the command “CLB” to make the engines react to a “climb” command.

With newer planes increasingly reliant on integrated systems, the problem is likely to become worse until airplane manufacturers address the problems.

2. Your Car

In 2015, researchers used a “zero-day exploit” to target a Jeep Cherokee and give them wireless control of the vehicle while it was on the road. The exploit sent commands though the Jeep’s entertainment system into its dashboard functions.

The Jeep’s driver, a reporter who volunteered to be part of the experiment, was driving down the road at about 115 kilometres per hour (70 mph) when the researchers set the cooling to maximum, changed the radio station, and began blasting music at full volume. The windshield wipers turned on, and wiper fluid started spraying, blurring the glass.

Though the driver manually tried to stop all of this, there was nothing he could do. The researchers even playfully put their image on the car’s digital display and shouted, “You’re doomed!” Then they cut the transmission, effectively killing the vehicle and forcing it off the road.

All of this happened when the reporter was on a highway. Though he knew in advance what was going to happen, it was still a nerve-racking experience for him. The researchers warn that it could have been far worse. Later in the test, they cut the brakes, forcing the reporter off the road and into a ditch. They could have also made the Jeep stop suddenly, leading to an accident. They say they haven’t mastered steering control yet, but they’re working on it.

1. Unopened PCs


A new PC should be safe from hackers, but some Chinese computers were sold with preinstalled malware. The malware was embedded into counterfeit versions of the Windows OS. It was being used to spy on users and conduct denial-of-service attacks.

Microsoft’s investigation of the supply chain found that the command-and-control system of these computers was infected with malware called “Nitol.” The malware spread via removable drives, so it’s estimated that millions of computers were infected. When investigators purchased 20 laptops and desktops from “PC malls” throughout China, each one had a counterfeit copy of Windows. Three had inactive malware, and the fourth had a live piece of malware that became active as soon as the PC was connected to the Internet.

The investigators believe that the computers were infected sometime after they left the factory. The Nitol botnet was controlled through the domain, which contained more than 500 strains of malware. Microsoft shut down the malware and took control of the domain. It is now allowing legitimate traffic from the site’s subdomains.

Top image: Anonymous hacker. Credit: Brian Klug/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.

[Source: Listverse. Edited. Top image added.]