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PlaceRaider Builds a Model of Your World With Smartphone Photos

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the persistent-virtual-worlds dept.

Android 120

Hugh Pickens writes "Neal Ungerleider writes about PlaceRaider, a trojan that can run in the background of any phone running Android 2.3 or above, and is hidden in a photography app that gives PlaceRaider the necessary permissions to access the camera and upload images. Once installed, PlaceRaider quietly takes pictures at random that are tagged with the time, location, and orientation of the phone while muting the phone's shutter sound. Once pictures are taken, PlaceRaider uploads them to a central server where they are knitted together into a 3D model of the indoor location where the pics were taken. A malicious user can then browse this space looking for objects worth stealing and sensitive data such as credit card details, identity data or calender details that reveal when the user might be away. If a user's credit card, bank information, or personal information happen to be out in the open — all the better. — the software can identify financial data, bar codes, and QR codes. End users will also be able to get the full layout of a victim's office or room. The good news? PlaceRaider isn't out in the wild yet. The malware was built as an academic exercise by a team at Indiana University as a proof of concept to show the invasive potential of visual malware beyond simple photo or video uploads and demonstrate how to turn an individual's mobile device against himself (PDF), creating an advanced surveillance platform capable of reconstructing the user's physical environment for exploration and exploitation. 'The message is clear — this kind of malware is a clear and present danger. It's only a matter of time before this game of cat and mouse becomes more serious.'" As malware, it's spooky. But merely as software, this kind of intelligent 3-D imaging is something I'd like to be able to do with my phone.

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Pocket (4, Insightful)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505721)

Put your phone in your pocket when not using it. Problem solved.

Re:Pocket (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41505783)

Put your phone in your pocket when not using it. Problem solved.

then it will probably generate a 3D model of something else...

Re:Pocket (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41505795)

Yeah, but from that close it'll look HUGE!!!

Re:Pocket (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41506147)

That's what she said ?

Re:Pocket (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41505835)

They could probably simply solve this by making it take pictures at certain intervals and then only submit the ones that have reasonable light to the server. This could of course eat some processing power, so you may notice battery life decrease.
If you gonna keep your phone in your pocket forever, fine, you won, but what use does it have?

Actually even that may not be enough. If you can have the locations figured out, that could possibly be enough to make a rough sketch of the house you live in. GPS and 3G locations, add them all together and you may be able to figure out the room layout, special locations like the toilet (even if you just want to annoy a person, figure out when he is on the toilet and then ring his doorbell), you could probably do a good guess on the bedroom (phone doesn't move for several hours?), kitchen (room repeatedly gone to around usual eating hours?).
Among other things like when you are out of house often.

Being able to aggregate lots of data on lots of people at the same time would be very nice as a criminal/government.

Re:Pocket (1)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505923)

If you gonna keep your phone in your pocket forever, fine, you won, but what use does it have?

While talking, you can just put your finger on the camera lens. When using it for something else, you can hold it in a way that your hand obscures the camera. And if you don't want to keep it in your pocket, just lay it on a flat surface. The main camera won't see anything, and the front camera will only see the ceiling.

Actually even that may not be enough. If you can have the locations figured out, that could possibly be enough to make a rough sketch of the house you live in. GPS and 3G locations, add them all together and you may be able to figure out the room layout, special locations like the toilet (even if you just want to annoy a person, figure out when he is on the toilet and then ring his doorbell), you could probably do a good guess on the bedroom (phone doesn't move for several hours?), kitchen (room repeatedly gone to around usual eating hours?).
Among other things like when you are out of house often.

Being able to aggregate lots of data on lots of people at the same time would be very nice as a criminal/government.

Of course, location tracking is scary in and on itself, but it's nothing new. GPS doesn't usually work in buildings unless you're next to a giant window, but they've been doing cell location tracking for a long time now. Most EU countries even save that data for 6 months under the data retention directive. Moral of the story: If you have reason to believe you're under surveillance, or think what you're doing might attract attention later, turn your phone off. Or just leave it at home.

Re:Pocket (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41505975)

It gonna be hard to keep your hand on the lens at all time, you could make the phone recognize big moves that correspondent closely to being taken out of the pocket. From there you may be able to get a few pictures every time its taken out. Also using the mic to recognize when somebody is talking in it gonna give you a good idea on when its being used and thus out of the pocket.

And yeah, I know that cell phones are tracking devices with calling capabilities built in, and it scares me.

Re:Pocket (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506263)

Why not just cover the lens with some black tape?

Re:Pocket (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 2 years ago | (#41507751)

You might want to use it and the sticky part of the tape will need cleaned off the lens if residue is left behind. Most tape that I use will leave a bit left over. It might be easier to find a phone protector sleeve that has a slide or something that covers the lens.

Re:Pocket (3, Insightful)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506397)

It gonna be hard to keep your hand on the lens at all time, you could make the phone recognize big moves that correspondent closely to being taken out of the pocket. From there you may be able to get a few pictures every time its taken out. Also using the mic to recognize when somebody is talking in it gonna give you a good idea on when its being used and thus out of the pocket.

I guess you could get some data that way, but I doubt it would be very much. All these things (constantly making photos, trying to get a GPS fix, reading sensor/mic data) will suck power like mad. If my phone's battery suddenly only lasts 3 or 4 hours, I'm going to investigate what's going on. Uninstall recently installed apps, look what background processes are running, do a factory reset if nothing helps. Less technically inclined people would probably ask their nerd friends for help or take it to a shop.

Re:Pocket (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506619)

Yeah, my phone is probably at an angle where it could get a good picture through its rear camera maybe 1-2% of the day - the rest of the time it's facing a desk, a pocket, a dresser, etc. Now, its front camera could probably get reasonable shots for ~70%, but a lot of phones still don't have those, and of those shots, 95% of the day it'll be pointing at only 2-4 things - ceiling in my bedroom, ceiling in my office, etc. And of the time when there's good data visible to either camera, 80% of the time I'm probably moving too much or in too low light conditions for a non-flash shot to be very useful. And then of the rest, if they're trying to model a specific indoor space instead of wherever I happen to randomly be at a given point in time...

Well, basically, I think they'd have to be doing an awful lot of monitoring of the camera to get those occasional good shots, at least with a dumb algorithm.

Now, *that said*, I think a smart algorithm could do a pretty good job. Don't just take pictures at intervals - use the accelerometers to tell when the camera is pointing in a potentially useful location and/or is being moved. Basically, take pictures when you think you're pointed at something you haven't seen before.

The use of battery life for GPS can be similarly handled. When you're plugged in, you really only need one good GPS reading and you're set. When you get unplugged, you need to monitor at regular intervals. The faster the person is moving, however, the faster you need to get updates, so you just tweak your update speed accordingly. This is, btw, one improvement I'd like to see in Backitude, which I use (I actually enjoy having Big Brother G monitor my life and wish he'd take more of my data - automatic pictures, audio recordings, even things like acceleration and magnetic fields from everywhere I go would suit me well ;) ).

Re:Pocket (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505841)

Put your phone in your pocket when not using it. Problem solved.

When talking on it, my relatively featureless "bar of soap" phone has a convenient hole for my pointer finger, that being the camera lens.

When doing something other than talking on it (99% of the time), you'd get an image of the palm of my hand. I would imagine an automated image analysis of hair distribution on palms of hands would be an interesting research project. (Ahh, I see, 99% of slashdotters have hair on palms, thus 1% of slashdotters are women...)

Re:Pocket (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41505935)

Buy an iPhone. Problem solved.

Re:Pocket (5, Funny)

drkim (1559875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505995)

Buy an iPhone. Problem solved...

...because you will just sit motionless in one spot, softly murmuring praise of your iPhone, until the battery dies.

FTFY

Re:Pocket (2)

Cinder6 (894572) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506267)

Until that filthy Bagginses comes around, at least...

Re:Pocket (2)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506319)

That thing is amazing. I still can't believe how I could ever live without it.

Re:Pocket (1)

endinyal (2700219) | more than 2 years ago | (#41507131)

Researcher comes out with yet another bonafide security flaw on Android, and you make it yet another iHater Apple bash. Grow up. This is the problem with Fandroids like you. Who the hell cares that my "free" and "open" OS is wrought with security issues, it's all sticking your head in the sand and sticking it to the "Apple Man". Childish.

Re:Pocket (3, Insightful)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#41509857)

Researcher comes out with yet another bonafide [sic] security flaw on Android, and you make it yet another iHater Apple bash..

Oh. I see. When some Anonymous Coward posts, "Buy an iPhone." in a thread about Android phones, that's OK.

But if we respond to that specific comment with an (obviously) humorous comment about iPhone users taking themselves too seriously; that we're 'Childish.' and we're just (and I quote) "...sticking it to the 'Apple Man.'"

Well, thank you Apple user, for showing us how you, um, don't take yourself too seriously...

Re:Pocket (1)

petsounds (593538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41509067)

No, you'll sit motionless in one spot because according to the iOS 6 Maps app satellite photos your street has turned into a river of blood and the sidewalks are filled with shadows from a nuclear apocalypse.

But seriously, as much as the Apple's app store walled garden/prison is derided on slashdot, this is exactly the kind of thing it is supposed to prevent.

Re:Pocket (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506647)

Because you'll drop it and break the fragile screen, rendering it useless before the malware could collect useful data? Because the battery will die too soon? Because you'll be getting rid of it to get the latest trendy model in short order?

Re:Pocket (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506927)

Put your phone in your pocket when not using it. Problem solved.

Well kind of, but that solution goes to the same bin with fixing a leaking roof by putting buckets all around your house...

Re:Pocket (1)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 2 years ago | (#41507287)

Is there a better solution? The only thing I can think of would be to review both the hardware and and all software, either yourself or by a trusted 3rd party. As long as you allow untrusted programs (including, potentially, firmware and OS) access to the camera or sensors, there's no way around this.

Re:Pocket (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#41508521)

Is there a better solution?

Use iOS.

Re:Pocket (3, Insightful)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 2 years ago | (#41508585)

Because Apple would never approve malware in the app store? Right.

They don't have the source code to submitted apps, so they couldn't review it even if they wanted to.

Re:Pocket (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#41508703)

Well, yes, there's the walled garden reason. But more importantly because iOS's unique multitasking scheme won't allow it.

This malware cannot work on iOS.

Re:Pocket (1)

narcc (412956) | about 2 years ago | (#41510223)

That's a new one. The pitiful multitasking support in iOS is an awesome malware-prevention feature!

What mobile operating systems need is a proper security model, you know, like RIM has had for years. Great security, no walled-garden, no compromises.

Re:Pocket (-1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41511825)

The pitiful multitasking support in iOS is an awesome malware-prevention feature!

Let's be clear. There is no technical limitation on multitasking on iOS. It's UNIX and has the usual multitasking ability, and indeed the built in services are using multitasking at all times - whether for the use of the built in apps, or 3rd party ones. And 3rd party apps can request time to finish their arbitrary code operations in the background - up to 10 minutes.

The restriction that apps aren't normally allowed to use arbitrary code in the background, and even if they request it they can't do so for more than 10 minutes is a policy, not a technical limitation.

i.e. Apple has more finesse on their multitasking, not less.

The primary reason is for battery life preservation. But the fact that it also minimises the ability for spyware to operate is hardly "a new one."

What extra security do you imagine RIM has that iOS doesn't? iOS clearly has a couple that RIM doesn't. (Walled garden and restrictions on background app operations.)

Re:Pocket (1)

narcc (412956) | about 2 years ago | (#41515387)

i.e. Apple has more finesse on their multitasking, not less.

More than what? Besides, what difference does it make if neither developers nor end users can take advantage of it in any meaningful way?

What extra security do you imagine RIM has that iOS doesn't?

Really? LOL! You need to do some reading! Besides, a walled garden is a band-aid. RIM has a proper security model, and thus doesn't need a walled garden.

Re:Pocket (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41516841)

More than what?

More than other mobile OSs.

Besides, what difference does it make if neither developers nor end users can take advantage of it in any meaningful way?

Better battery life/thinner and no background spyware, and the elimination of any need for a task manager to kill badly behaved apps. These are are advantages for the user.

Remember, it Apple wanted to do LESS work on multitasking they could have just done what other mobile OSs do. They did MORE work to make it better.

Re:Pocket (1)

narcc (412956) | about 2 years ago | (#41517865)

More than other mobile OSs.

That's just delusional. I know that you're trying to be the new Bonch, but there's no way that you're *that* irrational.

Your whole post reminds me of the "It's awesome that iOS can't multitask!" comments from a few years ago -- now it's "It's awesome that multitasking on iOS is second-rate! It makes our awesome piss-poor security less noticeable!"

Re:Pocket (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41518227)

It seems you're the mirror image of Bonch. Same attitude, different preferred platform.

Re:Pocket (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41516937)

"What extra security do you imagine RIM has that iOS doesn't?"

Really? LOL! You need to do some reading!

Really. Yes. I've explained why the described malware/spyware can't work on iOS. Now, what's to stop it on RIM? You claimed extra security, back it up.

Re:Pocket (1)

narcc (412956) | about 2 years ago | (#41517905)

Why? Facts are meaningless to you otherwise you'd have taken a few seconds to do a google search.

Re:Pocket (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41518241)

Your bluff has been well and truly called. You claim something woolly and are incapable of backing it up as regards the case of this malware/spyware. Mirror Bonch you are.

Re:Pocket (1)

narcc (412956) | about 2 years ago | (#41519125)

Here's what would have happened had I given in to your absurd demand for evidence you can find on your own with a simple google search:

1) Spend 20-30 minutes putting together a write-up that covers a tiny part of the topic.
2) Watch as you:
      2a) Point out some aspect I didn't cover, covered insufficiently, or that you think you can argue convincingly against
      2b) Argue, legitimately or illegitimately against each sentence in turn, in a long mutli-quoted post
3) Spend 20-30 minutes writing a reply to address some misunderstanding or to clarify some point
4) Watch as you write multiple replies to said reply, leading to a large disconnected thread
5) Complain that I haven't addressed some minor irrelevant points from posts earlier in the discussion.

Sorry, I have better things to do with my time. Do a google search.

Re:Pocket (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41519487)

The difference between me and you: I back up what I say, and answer questions. You claim, then duck and dive when asked about them.

Imagine if I'd just stated that iOS was immune to this malware/spyware, and when challenged, I just said "you have to read more" then "Google it." That would be pathetic. But that's exactly what you've done with your RIM claim. And thus it's worthless.

Case closed.

Re:Pocket (1)

narcc (412956) | about 2 years ago | (#41520225)

Wait, so I'm wrong because you can't be bothered to do some reading? I guess I shouldn't expect reason to be a big part of your life, given that you're a diehard Apple fan.

Again, I've outlined exactly what will happen if I bothered going in to more detail. I know, because it's happened with you in the past.

So, yes, go do some reading. You shouldn't take so much pride in ignorance.

Re:Pocket (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 2 years ago | (#41511085)

disable gps

not malware. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505739)

proof of conceptware.

and even that only if it works.

I mean, If it works nicely and does the stitching well: they got some other clients than just malware for the tech(as an _idea_ it's not new).

Who points there phone at everything? (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505979)

From the summary:

" the software can identify financial data, bar codes, and QR codes. "

Either Hugh Pickens didn't read the pdf or he is trying to intentionally misinform. A simple glance at the 1 Megapixel reconstruction shows that this would be impossible.

I actually think this is about getting Navy funding, because their entire premise - that people walk around pointing their phones at everything around them, is absurd. 99% of the pictures you would get from my phone would be useless, and consist of pictures that are of the ceiling, blacked out because my phone is on the table, blacked out because my phone is in my pocket, blacked out because my finger is over the camera lens as I talk, or blurry from the motion of moving it from the table or pocket to my ear.

Re:Who points there phone at everything? (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#41508341)

Of course it's got military funding - there's more applications than I can think of, including plenty of military ones, they're probably using a malware application to attract publicity and therefore further funding sources and investors.

Take this for example - the military are currently experimenting with the Kinect as a robot-mounted device as a 3D room scanner and model builder (eg for storming an unfamiliar building). This gives them that ability in a far more compact, low-power package that can be mounted on a helmet, giving a 3D map that expands as your team move around the building, what one person sees (even if behind them) is available to the others. If they wish this can be done covertly, using a standard mobile phone, and if you want to get conspiratorial about it they could collect the same information from unsuspecting phone owners.

The voluntary crowd-sourced idea is just as impressive - with enough people using the app you could build up a very detailed 3D model of urban areas very quickly - Google Earth but in 3D. All you'd need to do is allow people to veto certain areas such as homes, most commercial areas (shops etc) would be crying out to be included.

Thanks for the idea! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41505741)

Sincerely,

The NSA, TSA, FBI, CIA, Russian Mafia, Russian Government, Chinese Government, and Pedobear

How much data does it use?? (3)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505755)

How much data does it use?? as people on capped plan will see a big spike in data uses that may tip them off to software like this.

Accurate measurements? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505781)

I'd love an apple that allows me to photograph an object from a few angles and have its dimensions calculated. From small things up to rooms. Obviously would need a known reference.

There are a few apps for Android that try but they are pretty limited.

Re:Accurate measurements? (4, Interesting)

drkim (1559875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506011)

Have you tried 123D Catch from Autodesk? It builds a 3D model from a few photos. Free:

http://www.123dapp.com/catch [123dapp.com]

Re:Accurate measurements? (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506429)

More accurately, it builds a 3D model from a lot of photos.

Re:Accurate measurements? (1)

drkim (1559875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506501)

More accurately, it builds a 3D model from a lot of photos.

More accurately, it builds inaccurate 3D models from a lot of photos. (But it is free and fun!)

The biggest problem I ran into with it is shiny objects (which it warns against) but almost everything I wanted to model is shiny.

Re:Accurate measurements? (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506715)

Shiny is a problem. Spray paint can be your friend there.

I'm always confused why none of the free/open projects have followed the path of extracting objects from video tracking vs photos. I've had pro software for years now that will pull a point cloud off a video. And because you can use frame comparison and use some minor manual tweaks to tell the software when any given point should be ignored for a couple frames it greatly reduces problems caused by shine, reflections and occlusion.

Re:Accurate measurements? (1)

drkim (1559875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506773)

I'm always confused why none of the free/open projects have followed the path of extracting objects from video tracking vs photos. I've had pro software for years now that will pull a point cloud off a video.

I actually tried that with 123D Catch. I shot a continuous video around an object and then extracted a string of frames for use by 123D Catch.

What pro software are you using? I remember one that uses a printout with certain markers on it that you put under the object to help tracking.

Re:Accurate measurements? (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506869)

How did it work for you? 1080p extracts would be somewhat lower than the recommended resolution for 123D, and it's not worth breaking out a 4k camera (and associated workflow) for this.

I know the one you are talking about (but forget its name off the top of my head) and it's great if your object fits with their tracking pad.

But you can get good results even with something like SynthEyes.

Re:Accurate measurements? (1)

drkim (1559875) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506979)

How did it work for you? 1080p extracts would be somewhat lower than the recommended resolution for 123D

The final model/output was about the same as using my still camera, but there was the huge 'cost' of doing the frame extraction and conversion.

It was just a test. I was imagining doing "drive-by modeling" with my video car-cam.

I did a model of Vasquez_Rocks [wikimedia.org] with a simple P&S. That really made me appreciate that you it let you model big things that would be impossible without LIDAR.

Re:Accurate measurements? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506829)

Thanks, looks excellent. Hopefully an Android app will arrive soon, although from the look of it the iOS app only really takes photos and uploads them.

Re:Accurate measurements? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506817)

I'd love an apple

I would also love if Smart Keyboard Pro came with "app" in the default dictionary.

Re:Accurate measurements? (1)

dbug78 (151961) | more than 2 years ago | (#41507105)

To some degree a known reference would not be necessary. The camera knows how far away the object is by way of autofocus. If the object is far enough away that the focus goes to infinity, then you're SOL.

Muting camera... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41505791)

...while muting the phone's shutter sound.

Many Android phones require root privilege to mute shutter sound...Some of them allows screenshot of camera preview without it...but not all of them...rooting methods usually differ from phone model to model, and becoming more and more advanced. Some phones have security features like custom LSM modules, NAND tamper checking on boot, or MDM tools built into the kernel. I wonder how this malware dodge this problem.

Re:Muting camera... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#41508587)

Ah, the old Android fragmentation problem. There's two ways you can look at it.

1) Good news, because of the fragmentation, the malware won't work on all Androids. Mine might be safe.

2) Bad news, because of the fragmentation, the malware will work on a lot of Androids. Malware can take a scattergun approach, they'll target whoever does have phones that it works on.

Required "malware" (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505805)

I could do without the random pictures and uploading to a rogue site, but I would like to ask that the part where it silences the fake shutter sound be released into the wild, and we all agree not to fix it. My I also request that this no-fake-sounds malware be extended to touch keyboards as well?

Re:Required "malware" (1, Offtopic)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505865)

shutter sound

There's a whole generation growing up asking "WTF is a shutter?"

I've noticed a disturbing sharp turn to anachronism in the tech field lately. Its all about the camera shutter, the 5 1/4 inch floppy diskette as a "save" icon, animation of turning pages... Perhaps the next stupid fad will be an animatronic coo coo clock instead of hip hop ringtones. When the mp3 music player/streamer icon is an 8-track tape then we know its the end of the tech world.

Re:Required "malware" (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506091)

What's the alternative? A sound of some kind can be very useful when taking a picture - making it unique is also useful, and it doesn't really matter if kids these days don't know the etymology. Ditto saving - it's pretty much an entirely abstract concept these days, but it still needs an icon.

I've noticed a disturbing sharp turn to anachronism in the tech field lately.

There's been no "turn" - there's just nowhere else to go.

Re:Required "malware" (1)

Jimme Blue (1683902) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506217)

What's the alternative? A sound of some kind can be very useful when taking a picture - making it unique is also useful, and it doesn't really matter if kids these days don't know the etymology. Ditto saving - it's pretty much an entirely abstract concept these days, but it still needs an icon.

I've noticed a disturbing sharp turn to anachronism in the tech field lately.

There's been no "turn" - there's just nowhere else to go.

Slashdot discussed this issue earlier in the year, for those interested:
http://ask.slashdot.org/story/04/03/17/1454213/modernizing-the-save-icon [slashdot.org]
http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/05/13/0310219/icons-that-dont-make-sense-anymore [slashdot.org]

Re:Required "malware" (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506603)

The whole concept is called skeumorphism [wikipedia.org] and it's really, really annoying. Especially the way Apple does it. (How's that for wandering off topic?)

Re:Required "malware" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41510183)

Apple sucks at it, but Gnome 3 is worse and vi is worse yet. Really your only options are IBM, KDE or emacs.

Re:Required "malware" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41506735)

You have to keep in mind that the 5 1/4 inch floppy icon is a step more modern than what we used to have for the file saving metaphor: an actual filing cabinet drawer with an arrow in or out. Our entire filing metaphor of "files" including "folders", "writing", "reading", and "copying" is turning into its own primary concept model for people who didn't spend time worrying about the curation of paper files. Almost any computer user who is baffled by the history of a floppy disk is also baffled by the history of those paper files!

What's an alternative for illustrating persistent storage? Unfortunately, an icon of a pile of flash memory chips isn't going to be very helpful, since different chips are not particularly identifiable whether flash, RAM, CPU, GPU. We cannot throw away the file saving ritual for lack of an icon, unless we introduce some new even more abstract transaction commit protocol... there are important user workflow boundaries that need to be determined by these UI events.

Re:Required "malware" (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41515555)

FWIW, one of my friends back in HS (mid 80s) got a job doing some with with a company using Sun(?) workstations. We were both amazed that on such a power workstation, they would display an analog clock.

A call for hardware on/off switches (3, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505829)

This is why I/O components need hardware on/off switches.

The radio(s), the screen, the touch surface, the camera(s), the speaker, the microphone, the buttons other than of course the "buttons on/off" button need to be either hardware controlled or controlled by immutable, bug-free software.

If I flip the "camera" switch to off, it should be off, and no software in the world should be able to turn it on.

Ditto the cellular radio, wifi, screen, speaker, touch surface, most of the buttons, etc. etc.

If the phone has a master power off button or switch, turning it off should be pretty much like removing the battery except the "turn phone on" button would still work. Not even the "wake on alarm" or "wake on LAN" functions should work. If you need those functions, use the "regular" on/off button, not the "master on/off" button or switch.

Computers and other electronics should have similar on-off buttons. At a minimum, they should have a "master power" button and, typically, a "normal" on/off button. "Normal" being what we normally think of as "on/off" - most functions off but a few, like wake-on-certain-events, turned on.

What I want in my phone... (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505863)

If my phone is "on" I want the option to individually turn off the mic, speaker, radios, and cameras in a non-overrideable way.

If I'm in a museum or meeting, I'll hardware-mute the speaker and possibly the mic, camera, and radios if recording or radio transmission is not allowed in that museum or meeting. Why hardware-mute? To give the museum owner or meeting chair confidence that my device isn't compromised so he'll allow me to use it to look up locally-stored data and take written notes.

If I'm in an airplane, I'll cut off whatever components the pilot asks me to in hardware.

As long as malware that can turn these things on exists, why should a museum, meeting chair, pilot, or the FAA trust my phone to not violate the rules unless the phone is built in a way that there's an obvious way to follow the rules without removing the battery.

Outside of these situations, I'll probably have abusable features like the mic and camera hardware-off when I'm not using them.

Business users may want immutable logs (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505881)

Security-minded businesses or governments may want their phones to include a separate computer in the phone that logs the time and, if available, GPS location any time the mic or camera is turned on and perhaps data relating to radio use, with the information stored in a place that the regular phone hardware and softare can't get to. This will provide evidence if an employee is accused of misusing his phone to record things he shouldn't be recording or, if the employee denies the act, evidence that the phone may be compromised.

Totalitarian governments may want all phones to record all I/O and send copies to a central police agency. Or at least they'll want their citizens to think their phones do this to deter use of the device for anti-government purposes.

Re:A call for hardware on/off switches (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506301)

There is a hardware fix for the camera, it's called duct tape. You can get it in a variety of trendy colors.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCzXbz47Zpw [youtube.com]

Better than duct tape (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#41507559)

Something easily reversible, like painter's tape or a couple of post-it notes (one isn't opaque enough) with something non-adhesive like a piece of paper to cover the lens area.

Duct tape is not easily reversible - removing it leaves a residue that can usually be cleaned off but not easily.

Some business desktop video phones have a plastic shutter that you can move over the lens. This is an effective and cheap solution for the camera. However, it doesn't silence the mic or speaker or other things I might need to turn off while leaving the phone turned on.

Re:A call for hardware on/off switches (1)

jkflying (2190798) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506457)

immutable, bug-free software

Good luck with that. Hardware switches are the only thing I trust...

Re:A call for hardware on/off switches (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506629)

immutable, bug-free software

Good luck with that. Hardware switches are the only thing I trust...

What's wrong with hammers?

Re:A call for hardware on/off switches (1)

jkflying (2190798) | more than 2 years ago | (#41507201)

Nothing, unless their effects are reversible by software control =)

Nokia 103 (2)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505843)

Found this off a search for "cheapest Nokia":

"The Nokia 103 [intomobile.com] is dust resistant, comes with an âoeanti-scratch coverâ, has a 1.36 inch black and white display, flashlight, an FM radio (requires a headset), and an 800 mAh battery that should give you 27 days of standby time or 11 hours of talk time. Size and weight: 107.2 mm x 45.1 mm x 15.3 mm; 77 grams."

16 Euros or $21. No camera.

'nuff said.

Re:Nokia 103 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41506359)

It works. It appears to be the most reliable pbone of the century, too

Re:Nokia 103 (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506957)

Very nice phone. It's like the good old Nokia 3310.

Re:Nokia 103 (1)

efornara (1165681) | more than 2 years ago | (#41507343)

I like this kind of phones, but they might be too good for some countries. It is sad how hard it is to find a black and white phone (i.e. great visibility under direct sunlight) nowadays. I live in the UK and a while ago I was shopping for a Nokia 1200 (a similar phone). No way. I could only find 1208s (i.e. color display). At the end I had to buy it in Italy.

Street view (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41505899)

Street view should work something like this... send people a car docking station that takes pictures as they drive around. Use software to stitch pictures together. Pay them with App Store credit for pictures that end up part of the street view.

Re:Street view (2)

dmacleod808 (729707) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505957)

Have you seen how street view works? Obviously not, AC. It uses a camera OUTSIDE of the car to take pictures of the entire range in view of the camera, including the sky. Your plan makes for terrible pictures through people dirty windshields.

Where Google Glass will take us (2)

Zaphod-AVA (471116) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505913)

These kind of thoughts make the Google glass project fascinating and terrifying. Street View the world. Capture all the print material. How much more?

Re:Where Google Glass will take us (1)

groot (198923) | about 2 years ago | (#41517753)

This thread reminds me a discussion I had with a friend for an idea for a "killer" app. With the megapix on camera on the rise, GPS, and little network intel, you can build an app that will tell you whether you should try to run the yellow light and beat the red-light camera.

If we build it, they will die.

Tell me again (2)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#41505951)

About how walled gardens are bad?

Re:Tell me again (2)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506161)

Garden Walls can be breached by software.

HARDware switches are a different barrier altogether.

Software switches trade convenience for security.

I'd like to see MORE software breaches to coerce the provision of hardware switches.

Re:Tell me again (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506227)

I'm pretty sure you could get this through even Apple's curation, buy actually describing what it does and advertising it as a feature. "Build a model of your world" as you use your phone. Properly marketed, people will install anything. The only part you don't tell people is what you do with the images you create. This same abuse could be done by any app that uploads pictures to a hosted repository, the only new thing is that this takes the pictures at random.

Re:Tell me again (2)

knarf (34928) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506297)

Once you're over the wall, you have free reign over everything inside? This compared to the permission-based model used in eg. Android, where applications need explicit permission to access certain devices, services and data. Of course a 'root' user on both systems can do whatever they please. And, as can be seen from the paper, some of those permissions are to coarse-grained to be effective in stopping

This is not a matter of 'Apple' vs 'Android' vs the rest. They chose Android 'for practical reasons' ('We implemented on Android for practical reasons, but we expect such malware to generalize to other platforms such as iOS and Windows Phone.'), most likely because it is an easy and flexible platform to develop and implement for - just download the SDK, allow external sources and away you go.

Re:Tell me again (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#41508667)

As this malware proves the permissions system on Android is worthless. If you want to hide malware that needs to take illicit photos and upload them, you hide the malware in a photography app that has an upload feature.

Same for any other permissions the malware author wants. They just choose the trojan horse to match the permissions needed by the payload.

A single walled garden approach has the opportunity to spot the malware at the time of testing. And if it's missed then, as soon as someone does discover the malware and reports it, it can be entirely removed from distribution, and it's certificate revoked.

Beyond that there's another reason that it won't work on iOS. One of the reasons for iOSs unique multitasking model is to prevent this kind of background malware. This app won't run in the background on iOS because there is no such service for it to hook onto.

So yes it's very much a matter of 'Apple' vs 'Android'. There is lots of malware for Android, virtually none for iOS. And this particular malware would be impossible on iOS.

Re:Tell me again (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506569)

First tell me how this has *anything* to do with walled gardens. Then I'll tell you how letting a massive corporation do your thinking for you can be bad.

Re:Tell me again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41507537)

Right. This can never [cultofmac.com] happen [wired.com] in the app store.

Tell me again (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#41509235)

How walled gardens are good?

Given how Apple has had it's fair share of malware in its appstore in the past?

Can it find my car keys? (1)

Art Challenor (2621733) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506097)

This would be a fantasic app (without the rogue upload of course) if you could then ask it where items are. Arrive home without your credit card, lost your keys, need to find where you left a tool that you didn't put away 6 months ago?

Anti-theft Opportunity (1)

average_laowai (2742155) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506637)

This type of service could be particularly useful if packaged along with some anti-theft software. For example, services like Prey [preyproject.com] already take pictures using their application on the device, but if combined with the ability to create a 3D model of the environment this could be even more useful in tracking down your hardware's location.

very bad (3, Insightful)

kenorland (2691677) | more than 2 years ago | (#41506743)

Taking pictures in your private space may be embarrassing and may expose your mistress or illegal pot plants to the world, but as far as burglars go, it is irrelevant: they can tell easily whether your house is worth breaking into from the outside. And the idea that a bunch of dim-wit burglars are using poor quality 3D models to plan their heist wouldn't even fly as a movie plot.

This project strengthens the ludicrous idea in people's heads that photography is somehow a significant threat to safety or security. Photographic documentation is an extremely important part of modern democracy, and projects like these threaten the ability of people to take pictures.

Re:very bad (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#41508683)

The idea that the US and/or Israeli governments would write a virus specifically to have a subtle effect on computers running Iran's nuclear centrifuges is equally B-movie material. And yet with Stuxnet, it happened.

Now imagine how useful this malware would be if directed towards specific espionage targets.

Re:very bad (1)

PuZZleDucK (2478702) | about 2 years ago | (#41510663)

projects like these threaten the ability of people to take pictures.

I fail to see a threat (to anyone) here.

Your house has windows right? This effect could be better achieved with a telephoto lense and a good camping spot.

A scrap of duct tape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41507271)

over the lenses, problem solved!

Two words (1)

geeknotnerd (628448) | more than 2 years ago | (#41507379)

Lens cap.

blurry cameras? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41507763)

good think my camera is so horrible you cant make out text!!! keep up the shitty cameras ZTE

Sounds nonsensical (1)

downhole (831621) | about 2 years ago | (#41510787)

Their whole theoretical plan, assuming the part about the phone taking pictures of its surroundings and uploading them without the user noticing actually works, still sounds like nonsense to me, because there is likely to be little connection between the types of criminals who hack phones and the ones who break into houses and steal things.

If you are the type to break into houses and steal things, then you are probably focused on a relatively small geographical area - you need a connection to the type of criminals who can actually move your stolen property, which is the sort of thing that only really works in person. You probably have little interest in hacking phones like this because such a scheme would generate data for places all over the world, 99% of which are completely impractical for you to exploit.

If you are the type to hack phones and computers, then the only way for your work to be practical is if you have a way to turn your hacks into money remotely, without ever actually travelling to the place where the hackee is, since each one is probably not worth anywhere near the cost of travelling there. Only by combining a lot of them without ever actually travelling anywhere can you make money.

Getting these two types of criminals together doesn't seem very practical - how does a hacker get in touch with a break-in man in a city far away? How could they come to trust each other enough to actually pull a directed robbery? Any break-in man would probably think he was either being screwed with by someone trying to get him to pay money for nonsense info, or being set up for an ambush by police or some other group of criminals. And any hacker would probably also think he was being set up in some way by police or some other criminal group. And you'd have to establish a lot of these relationships for the whole scheme to start to make any sense. Yeah, it's not happening. Let hackers stick to stealing credit card info and bank account login info, and let break-in men stick to conventional, local methods of figuring out who is worth the effort of robbing.

Am I the only one... (1)

neminem (561346) | about 2 years ago | (#41514579)

who saw the thread title, and clicked on it thinking it was going to be an extremely neat proof of concept that people would want to have running on their phones, to upload maps of places they've been to some central location, creating a crowdsourced repository of floorplans of every building on the planet? Cause that would actually be kinda cool. (Obviously you wouldn't post the actual -images-, preferably the phone would do the datacrunching itself, and just send processed data to be converted into floorplans.)

Glass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41516665)

Wait until glass like gadgets come to life.

SO THAT'S WHY! (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about 2 years ago | (#41517601)

That's why they've been selling belt holsters for mobile phones all of these years!

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