Newer we­b­cams safe, maker says

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By SHI XIAOFENG in Hangzhou and FAN FEIFEI in Bei­jing

A Chi­nese elec­tron­ics com­pany whose de­vices were linked to a mas­sive cy­ber­at­tack on Fri­day in the United States has as­sured the pub­lic that there is a low pos­si­bil­ity of sim­i­lar cases us­ing its up­graded gad­gets else­where in its mar­ket.

Hangzhou Xiong­mai Tech­nol­ogy Co, a video sur­veil­lance man­u­fac­turer, is re­call­ing four kinds of we­b­cams sold in the US after a wide­spread cy­ber­at­tack blocked ac­cess to web­sites in the US, in­clud­ing Twit­ter and PayPal, last week.

Around 10,000 of the com­pany’s we­b­cams will be re­called, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

Uniden­ti­fied hack­ers seized con­trol of gad­gets, in­clud­ing Xiong­mai’s we­b­cams, and di­rected them to launch an at­tack that tem­po­rar­ily brought down the web­sites.

Liu Yuexin, Xiong­mai’s mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor, said the com­pany en­tered the US mar­ket very early, and the re­called we­b­cams were man­u­fac­tured be­fore April last year with easy-to-guess de­fault pass­words.

The com­pany had no­ticed the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the older ver­sion and fixed the prob­lems for the newer we­b­cams. Users of the up­dated we­b­cams have been re­quired to change the de­fault pass­word.

The main cause for Fri­day’s at­tack was that users had not changed the we­b­cams’ de­fault pass­words, mak­ing them easy to hack, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

While the com­pany’s sur­veil­lance cam­eras ex­ported to the US mar­ket ac­count for 10 per­cent of its to­tal out­put, most of the oth­ers ex­ported world­wide were made after April last year. Th­ese had been fixed and no longer con­sti­tute a danger, and the risk of be­ing at­tacked by hack­ers is very low, Liu added.

Se­cu­rity ex­perts said a ris­ing num­ber of cy­ber­se­cu­rity risks in­volve in­ter­con­nected hard­ware de­vices, in­clud­ing home gad­gets, ap­pli­ances and au­to­mo­biles.

Con­tact the writ­ers at fan­feifei@chi­

His­to­rian Amanda Fore­man, who chaired the judg­ing panel, said the book “plunges into the heart of con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, and with ab­so­lutely sav­age wit the kind I haven’t seen since (Jonathan) Swift or (Mark) Twain.”

The Sell­out is set in a run­down Los An­ge­les sub­urb called Dick­ens, where the res­i­dents in­clude the last sur­vivor of The Lit­tle Ras­cals and the book’s nar­ra­tor, Bon­bon, an African-Amer­i­can man on trial at the US Supreme Court for at­tempt­ing to re­in­state slav­ery and racial seg­re­ga­tion.

The book has been likened to the com­edy of Pryor and Chris Rock, and Beatty goes where many au­thors fear to tread. Racial stereo­types, of­fen­sive speech and po­lice killings of black men are all sub­ject to his scathing eye.

Beatty ac­knowl­edged that The Sell­out was a hard book both to read and to write and would push read­ers out of their com­fort zone.

“I knew peo­ple could mis­read the book re­ally eas­ily,” he told re­porters.

“I think peo­ple get caught up in cer­tain words and their brains lock, cer­tain ideas and their brains lock.”

Beatty was awarded the 50,000 pound ($61,000) prize by Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, Duchess of Corn­wall, dur­ing a black-tie cer­e­mony at Lon­don’s medieval Guild­hall.

“I’m just try­ing to cre­ate space for my­self hope­fully that cre­ates space for oth­ers,” added the vis­i­bly emo­tional au­thor as he ac­cepted the prize.

“I don’t want to get all dra­matic, like writ­ing saved my life,” said 54-year-old Beatty, who has writ­ten three pre­vi­ous nov­els. “But writ­ing’s given me a life.

Fore­man said The Sell­out, which mixes pop cul­ture, phi­los­o­phy and pol­i­tics with hu­mor and anger, sets out to “evis­cer­ate ev­ery so­cial taboo”.

“This is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheer­ful aban­don,” she said. “That is why the book works be­cause while you’re be­ing nailed, you’re be­ing tick­led.”

The five judges met for a marathon four hours on Tues­day to choose the win­ner from among six finalists, whit­tled down from 155 sub­mis­sions.

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