Late yesterday came word from various news sources like this one at ComputerWorld that Trapster - a California-based free online service that it says "allows users to share the location of police speed traps" - announced a security breach that may have exposed millions of emails.

Trapster has over 10 million registered users, and sends speed trap information to users of iPhones, iPads, Blackberrys, Androids, Nokias, Palms, Windows Mobile phones, and some GPS devices.

At Trapster's FAQ regarding the breach, it says for any registered user:

"...  it’s best to assume that your e-mail address and password were included among the compromised data."

Therefore, Trapster says, users should immediately change their password.  

The company also says that it knows how the breach happened, and that it has changed its software as a result.

Trapster goes on to state that:

"While we know that we experienced a security incident, it is not clear that the hackers successfully captured any e-mail addresses or passwords, and we have nothing to suggest that this information has been used."

I doubt that this breach will hurt Trapster that much, given its popularity, unless it gets hit again.

On the other hand, this reported breach certaintly beats Vodafone Australia's potentially 4 million person data breach at least in numbers (but not detail of the personal data exposed) - and we are only two-thirds the way through January. Hope these incidents are not an indication of how the rest of 2011 is going to turn out.

The Conversation (0)

Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

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