May 17, 2020

Lifespan predicting DNA test to go on sale

DNA test
blood test
2 min
Lifespan predicting DNA test to go on sale
A revolutionary DNA blood test that can predict how long you will live is due to go on sale in Europe and possibly in America. The blood test will be a...

A revolutionary DNA blood test that can predict how long you will live is due to go on sale in Europe and possibly in America.

The blood test will be available in over-the-counter settings and will cost $700 (£435) when it first goes on sale in Britain later this year.

The test identifies the length of a person’s telomeres which are bits of DNA at the end of the chromosomes.

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Scientists believe that telomeres indicate the speed at which someone ages and those with shorter telomeres tend to die younger than those with long telomeres.

However, critics are branding it controversial and are saying it will open a ‘Pandora’s box’ in which insurance companies will demand a blood test before offering a policy.

Some scientists are also concerned about how people will react if the test delivers bad news, while others are worried it could be used to market fake ‘elixirs of life’.   

A Madrid-based company Life Length has manufactured the test and in an interview Life Length CEO Steve Matlin said the company does not claim the test can predict length of life, it merely just alerts people to high concentrations of short telomeres.

As yet the test is unable to predict the exact amount of months or years a person has left to live although scientists believe telomere testing will become widespread within the next ten years.

Life Length itself is also predicting the demand for the test will be high once they can bring down the price of the test.

Although Life Length is not the only company offering telomere blood tests, they are the only company to be making them available to the public over-the-counter.  

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Jun 17, 2021

Peloton vulnerable to cyber attacks, McAfee research finds

2 min
​​​​​​​Software security experts McAfee discovered exercise bikes by Peloton are vulnerable to cyber attacks, which the company have since resolved 

Peloton, the popular exercise bikes, were found to be vulnerable to cyber attacks in the latest research from McAfee. 

Peloton is a brand of electric bikes that combines high end exercise equipment with cutting-edge technology. Its products use wi fi to connect to a large tablet that interfaces with the components of the exercise device, and provides an easy way for physical activity enthusiasts to attend virtual workout classes over the internet several times a week.

Peloton has garnered attention recently around the privacy and security of its products. So McAfee decided to take a look for themselves and purchased a Peloton Bike+.

The problem

Researchers looked at the Android devices and uncovered a vulnerability  that could allow an attacker with either physical access to the Bike+ or access during any point in the supply chain to gain to hack into the bike’s tablet, including the camera, microphone and personal data. 

For the person using it there would be no indication the Bike+ has been tampered with, potentially putting Peloton’s 16.7 million users at risk.  

The flaw was found in the Android Verified Boot (AVB) process. McAfee researchers were able to bypass the Android Verified Boot process, which normally verifies all code and data before booting. They were then able to get the device to boot bypassing this step. 

This could potentially lead to the Android OS being compromised by an attacker who is physically present. Even worse, the attacker could boot up the Peloton with a modified credential to gain privileges, granting them access to the bike remotely. 

As the attacker never has to unlock the device to boot it up, there would be no trace of their access on the device. This type of attack could also happen at any point from construction to warehouse to delivery, by installing a backdoor into the Android tablet without the user ever knowing. 

The solution

Given the simplicity and criticality of the flaw, McAfee informed Peloton while auditing was ongoing. The vendor was sent full details,  and shortly after, Peloton confirmed the issue and released a fix for it. 

Further conversations between McAfee and  Peloton confirmed that this vulnerability had also been present on the Peloton Tread exercise equipment. 

Peloton’s Head of Global Information Security Adrian Stone, commented on the research: “This vulnerability reported by McAfee would require direct, physical access to a Peloton Bike+ or Tread. Like with any connected device in the home, if an attacker is able to gain physical access to it, additional physical controls and safeguards become increasingly important.

"To keep our members safe, we acted quickly and in coordination with McAfee. We pushed a mandatory update in early June and every device with the update installed is protected from this issue.”

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