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  1. Vader - formerly one of the most visible brands in the pirate IPTV space - shut down in May amid mysterious circumstances. As was initially suspected, it's now confirmed the platform was targeted by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment. Following a secret legal process in Canada, the service is now on the hook for $10 million in damages. There are several large IPTV providers with brands that are well known across the unlicensed industry. One of those was Vader, otherwise known as Vader Streams, or just Vaders. Notable for its Darth Vader logo, the platform served large numbers of direct customers and subscription re-sellers with at least 1,300 TV channels and a library of VOD content running close to 3,000 titles. This May, however, something went seriously wrong. “We have no choice but to close down Vader. We can’t reveal much publically, but by now some of you should know through the other means what happened,” a notice posted to the site’s Telegram channel read. “We tried everything in our power to avoid this, to avoid any outage, but enough people worked against us.” With that, Vader went down, never to appear again. As highlighted in our subsequent review of the Vader closure, we had strong suspicions that anti-piracy giant the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) had become involved. We’d obtained an unverified copy of what looked like a cease-and-desist notice, apparently sent by ACE members to Vader, over its VOD content. Unable to confirm its authenticity, we made a decision not to publish it. However, it’s now 100% clear that ACE, the global anti-piracy company made up of dozens of powerful content companies, did indeed shutter Vader. And it’s now evident why they refused to comment. ACE proceeded against Vader through a secret court proceeding in Canada through which it obtained a so-called “Anton Piller” order, a civil search warrant that grants plaintiffs no-notice permission to enter a defendant’s premises in order to secure and copy evidence to support their case, before it can be destroyed or tampered with. A similar process was used against TVAddons founder Adam Lackman in 2017. While the case against Lackman is moving forward at glacial speed more than two years later, the Vader matter now appears to be over. After obtaining a permanent injunction from the Federal Court in Canada, ACE has shuttered the service and landed Vader with a bill for $10 million in damages. According to ACE, Vader must also “cede administrative control” over its entire “piracy infrastructure”, permanently cease-and-desist from doing anything in future connected to offering, selling, or promoting unlicensed streams, and/or developing, updating, hosting or promoting any Kodi add-ons connected to pirated content. “On behalf of all ACE members, I applaud the Court’s decision to permanently put an end to piracy operations conducted by Vader Streams,” Charles Rivkin, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement. “Actions like these can help reduce piracy and promote a dynamic, legal marketplace for creative content that provides audiences with more choices than ever before, while supporting millions of jobs in the film and television industry.” Robert Malcolmson, Senior Vice President Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations, Bell Canada – a prominent ACE member – described the action by the Federal Court as “strong and appropriate”, adding that “illegal streaming services like Vader Streams cause serious harm to creators and distributors, the entire broadcasting and cultural sectors and ultimately Canadian consumers.” While ACE says that Vader must “cede administrative control” over its entire “piracy infrastructure”, it remains unclear what that means in real terms. At the time of the shutdown, Vader said that it was “going to make sure, no Email, IP, account + reseller name goes to the wrong hands. Everything will be wiped clean and that’s all.”
  2. Streaming TV provider Omniverse has ceased operating, but its legal troubles are far from over. Hollywood studios continue to search for more evidence on its allegedly infringing activities. This week Omniverse asked the court to halt this process, and compel the copyright holders into mediation. The court documents further reveal that the streaming provider fears a potential criminal investigation. In February, several major Hollywood studios filed a lawsuit against Omniverse One World Television. Under the flag of anti-piracy group ACE, the companies accused Omniverse and its owner Jason DeMeo of supplying of pirate streaming channels to various IPTV services. Omniverse sold live-streaming services to third-party distributors, such as Dragon Box and HDHomerun, which in turn offered live TV streaming packages to customers. According to ACE, the company was a pirate streaming TV supplier, offering these channels without permission from its members. Omniverse disagreed with this characterization and countered that it did everything by the book. It relied on a deal from the licensed cable company Hovsat, which has a long-standing agreement with DirecTV to distribute a broad range of TV-channels with few restrictions. As time went on, however, it transpired that the streaming provider was clearly worried about the legal threat. After several of its distributors distanced themselves from the service, Omniverse decided to wind down its business. An earlier statement that the service was “fully licensed” was replaced by more reserved language. In a court filing in June, Omniverse said that if any infringement took place, it was without the company’s explicit knowledge. “To the extent there was any infringement, such infringement was, on information and belief, without malice or bad intent by Omniverse or its management and was caused or contributed to by third-parties such as HovSat,” the company stated. Fast forward a few weeks and the case remains unresolved. According to recent court records, Omniverse would like to settle the matter. It has made several offers to do so, but the Hollywood studios were not interested. Instead, ACE would like to know all the ins and outs of the alleged infringements. To break this impasse, Omniverse asked the court to compel the Hollywood studios to engage in a mediation process yesterday. At the same time, the company would like to bring the ongoing discovery efforts to a halt. According to the court filing, the ACE members were willing to agree to a stipulated judgment where the streaming provider would admit certain wrongdoings. However, this goes too far according to Omniverse, which fears that the rightsholders could use this to fuel a criminal investigation. “The parties have exchanged drafts of a stipulated judgment, but the parties reached an impasse when Plaintiffs demanded that Defendants admit to what amounts to egregious conduct in exchange for settlement,” Omniverse writes. “Defendants fear Plaintiffs intend to use such a stipulated judgment as part of a criminal investigation against Defendants. To resolve the impasse, Defendants proposed a mediation, which Plaintiffs have flatly refused,” the company adds. The mention of a potential criminal investigation is new. While it’s not a secret that Hollywood studios have referred several streaming piracy cases to the Department of Justice, Omniverse was never mentioned in this regard. Whether the streaming provider has any concrete indication that it’s a criminal target is unknown. The request to compel mediation was submitted “ex parte,” meaning that ACE’s members weren’t made aware of it beforehand. However, the rightsholders were quick to respond. In a filing submitted a few hours ago they object to the request. Instead, the Hollywood studios want to complete the discovery process, so they can find out more about the infringing activity. When that’s done, they are open to mediation. The rightsholders further point out that, while the Omniverse brand may have ceased operating, the company’s CEO appears to be involved in another potentially troublesome IPTV service, OSTV Now, which is set to launch next month. “While Defendants represented to the Court that they have ceased operations, it appears that Defendant DeMeo is merely shifting from one infringing operation (Omniverse) to another (OSTV Now), advertised as a new ‘One-Stop For TV Entertainment’ to launch on September 1. “Whatever the branding, Defendants appear to be continuing their infringing practices. These and other important facts are exactly why discovery needs to move forward,” the studios add. The new “OSTV Now” service doesn’t mention Omniverse CEO Jason DeMeo by name. However, as Lightreading pointed out previously, the service is promoted on DeMeo’s personal website. Given the potential threat and several outstanding questions the studios have, they ask the court to deny Omniverse’s request to compel mediation at this stage of the case. “Only when the facts are known to both sides (not just Defendants) can the parties meaningfully engage in a mediation. Defendants’ ex parte is a transparent attempt to avoid the very discovery that would reveal those facts, seemingly so they can continue infringing in the meantime,” they write. Unlike Omniverse, the rightsholders make no mention of a potential criminal case. Whether that threat is indeed warranted, has yet to be seen.
  3. After sending hundreds of fruitless cease-and-desist notices to 'pirate' IPTV provider Easybox IPTV, DISH Networks has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the service in the United States. DISH states that the defendants, which offer both pre-configured devices and separate channel subscriptions, are acting with willful, malicious intent while showing indifference to the rights of the broadcaster. As the use of unlicensed IPTV services continues to gain popularity with consumers around the world, content owners and broadcasters are faced with a growing illicit market to disrupt. As a result, copyright infringement and similar lawsuits against ‘pirate’ IPTV providers are definitely on the rise, with US-based broadcaster DISH Network at the forefront. This week, DISH filed another lawsuit in the United States, this time targeting ‘pirate’ IPTV provider Easybox IPTV. This ‘company’ (the term is used loosely, given the unknown structure of the operation) appears not dissimilar to several others previously targeted by the broadcaster. The model adopted by Easybox suggests the outfit primarily targets less experienced IPTV users, something that’s supported by the operation offering ready-configured (aka ‘fully-loaded’) devices as well as add-on subscription packages. The DISH lawsuit, filed in a Texas federal court, list DOES 1-5 individually and collectively doing business as Easybox IPTV. DISH doesn’t appear to know the identities of the people it’s suing but has concluded they may be from China. The broadcaster says that historical WHOIS records for the service’s domain name suggest a China base while delivery time for devices sent to China is much quicker than those sent to the United States. At issue are DISH’s ‘protected channels’, i.e those it supplies as a result of licensing agreements obtained from various TV networks. These allow the company to “distribute and publicly perform” in the United States “by means including satellite, OTT, Internet protocol television (‘IPTV’), and Internet.” Easybox IPTV’s service, which offers “more than 1,000 channels” to its subscribers, includes the ‘protected channels’, a breach of the broadcaster’s rights, according to DISH. “Defendants use their Easybox Service to transmit the Protected Channels over the Internet to Service Users soon after the original authorized transmission,” the complaint reads. “Defendants capture live broadcast signals of the Protected Channels, transcode these signals into a format useful for streaming over the Internet, transfer the transcoded content to one or more servers provided, controlled, and maintained by Defendants, and then transmit the Protected Channels to Service Users through OTT delivery.” An interesting element to the case are the efforts expended by DISH, in advance of this lawsuit, in order to get Easybox to cease-and-desist its activities. According to the broadcaster, since January 27, 2016, DISH and its partners sent at least 116 infringement notices, all of which were ignored. “Instead [of responding], Defendants prevented DISH’s counsel from viewing Easybox.tv by blocking their Internet Protocol (‘IP’) addresses,” the complaint adds. On top of the direct notices, from February 8, 2016, more than 170 additional complaints were sent to CDNs associated with the Easybox service. DISH believes at least some of these were forwarded to the IPTV provider since it later countered by switching to different CDN providers. All that considered, DISH is demanding a permanent injunction against Easybox (and anyone acting in concert with it) preventing it from “transmitting, streaming, distributing, or publicly performing in the United States, with any Easybox set-top box, smart IPTV subscription, subscription renewal, or any other device, application, service, or process, any of the Protected Channels or any of the programming that comprises any of the Protected Channels.” DISH also seeks a ban on the distribution, sale, promotion or advertising of Easybox services and/or devices, including any inducement for others to carry out the same. In addition, it requests statutory damages for 67 or more registered works at the rate of $150,000 each (more than $10 million) plus any profits generated by Easybox due to the infringement of non-registered works.
  4. The Federation Against Copyright Theft has confirmed that last month it helped to serve cease-and-desist notices to individuals at 16 premises in the UK connected to the supply of illegal sports streaming services. The action was taken in collaboration with the Premier League and law enforcement agencies. Last month, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) said it had targeted people involved in the supply of ‘pirate’ IPTV subscriptions and the sale of modified set-top boxes. Its ‘disruption team’ reported working with GAIN (Government Agency Intelligence Network) and the Federation Against Copyright Theft, targeting people in Wrexham and Blackburn. It now transpires that a broader operation took place. This morning, FACT revealed that following a collaboration with the Premier League, aimed at disrupting the availability of illegal sports streams ahead of the new 2019/2020 football season, it had teamed up with law enforcement agencies to serve cease-and-desist notices. FACT’s Eddy Leviten, who has just returned to the anti-piracy outfit following a period at the Alliance for Intellectual Property as its Director-General, informs TorrentFreak that actions were “taken across the country”. In total, 16 premises were targeted in the operation, with cease-and-desist notices served on individuals suspected of supplying illegal sports streams. Leviten declined to be more precise on the exact nature of the targets at this stage, but confirmed that “those involved were all engaged at a level sufficient to attract our interest.” However, FACT does note that those targeted were all “promoting unauthorized access to premium television content” which combined with NWROCU’s earlier comments about IPTV could be compatible with lower-level IPTV subscription re-sellers. These are individuals who operate no service of their own but buy ‘credits’ from bigger players in order to offer packages to the public. NWROCU previously mentioned “cracked online television boxes” too, which are potentially Android-style devices configured for piracy. Again, no further details are currently available. Nevertheless, the involvement of the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) Disruption Teams may raise alarm bells with those operating in a similar niche. FACT, in conjunction with its Premier League partner, hopes that the cease-and-desist notices will stop the activity in hand while “deterring others from getting involved.” Kieron Sharp, FACT Chief Executive says that last month’s activity is just one of the tactics being deployed against people committing offenses that affect both rightsholders and broadcasters. “We have a program of continuous activity targeting different elements of the global piracy landscape, with consideration given to the scale of the offending so that the most effective and proportionate response is deployed,” Sharp says. “The message is clear. If you are involved in any way in providing illegal streaming services, on any scale, you are not invisible or immune from action from FACT, rights owners and law enforcement.” National GAIN Coordinator Lesley Donovan adds that the serving of cease-and-desist notices is intended to send a message to those “trying to make a quick buck” out of illegal streaming. “Their actions are feeding a wider illicit industry which not only denies the economy of millions both in copyright theft and undeclared income but poses a direct risk to our communities due to their lack of parental controls and fire safety,” Donovan says. “This type of activity is also often a cog in a larger criminal machine, often ultimately funding drugs, weapons and people trafficking.” The claims of higher-tier offending such as those detailed by Donovan are often cited in connection with all forms of piracy. However, it is extremely rare (perhaps unheard of) for those claims to be backed up with publicly-available evidence. There have been claims in the media that paramilitary groups are involved in some way in Ireland, but no evidence beyond that
  5. Popular 'pirate' IPTV service IPGuys is the latest provider to fall victim to the lawyers of DISH Network. In a lawsuit filed in the United States, three named individuals and 10 John Does stand accused of capturing DISH signals from satellite feeds and redistributing them via the Internet utilizing a network of IPTV resellers. Those involved in the sale of unlicensed IPTV services appear to be coming under attack from an increasing number of angles. Just this week, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment confirmed that it was behind the closure of previously popular IPTV service Vader Streams. Just days earlier, the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft said it had served cease-and-desist notices in 16 locations to individuals involved in the supply of infringing sports streams, with at least some acting as resellers of ‘pirate’ IPTV services. Today, another well-known provider is added to the growing list. IPGuys is a recognized brand in the IPTV space. It has no website of its own, with subscribers to the service gaining access through a network of resellers. For how much longer that will be the case will remain to be seen, as the service is now being sued in the United States. In a lawsuit filed by DISH Networks and NagraStar yesterday, the broadcaster names Ontario, Canada-based Tomasz Kaczmarek as the operator of IPGuys. “Kaczmarek operates an illicit streaming service called IPGuys, where he acquires DISH’s satellite broadcasts of television programming and retransmits that programming without authorization to customers of his IPGuys service,” the complaint reads. According to DISH, Brooklyn, New York-based husband and wife team John and Julia Defoe participate in the “rebroadcasting scheme” by creating and maintaining DISH subscription accounts that are used to supply the IPGuy’s service with DISH’s programming. The additional Does 1-10 are described as “one or more persons” responsible for DISH subscription accounts that were created with false information and used to supply DISH content to the scheme. DISH says the accounts were created through a former retailer in Brooklyn named Ratiann Enterprise Inc. and registered to addresses in the same area. The company hopes that the discovery process will enable it to identify the people behind those accounts. The suit states that DISH used technical means to determine that the content being offered by IPGuys originated from its satellite broadcasts. “During testing of the IPGuys service, encoded messages delivered as part of DISH’s satellite communications were detected on the DISH Programming retransmitted on the IPGuys service, confirming the DISH Programming provided by Kaczmarek is originating from DISH’s satellite communications and DISH subscriber accounts,” the complaint reads. Seven of the so-called “seeder accounts” (the accounts that allegedly provided the content to IPGuys) shared one or more credit cards as the source of payment and all had either the same passwords or password hints, DISH adds. Furthermore, the same credit cards were also used to pay for “at least twenty” additional subscriber accounts established with false information. One of the twenty accounts was held in the name of John Defoe, DISH claims, adding that Kaczmarek sent Julia Defoe “tens of thousands of dollars”, while specifically mentioning DISH. From here, DISH begins to tackle some of the resellers of the IPGuys service, which offered the roughly $15 per month packages to the public. The primary sellers are named in the suit as Romie IPTV World, IPTV Bazaar, GetIPTVOnline and IPGuys-Live. Two secondary sellers are named as The Napster and Miracle Media Box Media. DISH states that Kaczmarek and the Defoes were given notice by the company that their activities violated various aspects of the Federal Communications Act back in April 2019, but the IPGuys service continued to operate. As a result, DISH is now demanding a broad permanent injunction against all defendants, plus actual or statutory damages of between $10,000 and $100,000 per violation, plus costs.
  6. If a major shopping or financial site suffers a data breach, there's not much you can do about it except change your password, get a new credit card, and possibly freeze your credit. Protecting against that sort of attack is just out of your hands. But there are many kinds of security problems that hit closer to home. Ransomware could effectively brick your computer until you pay the ransom. A data-stealing Trojan could lift all your secure logins. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to defend against these local problems. Making your devices, online identity, and activities more secure really doesn't take much effort. In fact, several of our tips about what you can do to be more secure online boil down to little more than common sense. These 12 tips for being more secure in your online life will help keep you safer. 1. Install an Antivirus and Keep It Updated We call this type of software antivirus, but it actually protects against all kinds of malicious software. Ransomware encrypts your files and demands payment to restore them. Trojan horse programs seem like valid programs, but behind the scenes they steal your private information. Bots turn your computer into a soldier in a zombie army, ready to engage in a denial of service attack, or spew spam, or whatever the bot herder commands. An effective antivirus protects against these and many other kinds of malware. In theory, you can set and forget your antivirus protection, letting it hum along in the background, download updates, and so on. In practice, you should take a look at it every now and then. Most antivirus utilities display a green banner or icon when everything is hunky-dory. If you open the utility and see yellow or red, follow the instructions to get things back on track. You may be thinking, wait, isn't antivirus built into Windows? Not only is Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center baked into the operating system, it automatically takes over protection when it detects no other antivirus, and just as automatically steps aside when you install third-party protection. The thing is, this built-in antivirus just doesn't compare with the best third-party solutions. Even the best free ones are way better than Windows Defender. Don't rely on it; you can do better. Whether you've chosen a simple antivirus or a full security suite, you'll need to renew it every year. Your best bet is to enroll in automatic renewal. With some security products, doing so enables a malware-free guarantee. You can always opt out later, if you get the urge to switch to a different product. One more thing. If your antivirus or security suite doesn't have ransomware protection, consider adding a separate layer of protection. Many ransomware-specific utilities are entirely free, so there's no reason not to try a few of them and select the one that suits you best. 2. Explore the Security Tools You Install Many excellent apps and settings help protect your devices and your identity, but they're only valuable if you know how to use them properly. Understanding the tools that you assume will protect you will go a long way toward them actually protecting you. For example, your smartphone almost certainly includes an option to find it if lost, and you may have even turned it on. But did you actively try it out, so you'll know how to use it if needed? Your antivirus probably has the ability to fend off Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs), troublesome apps that aren't exactly malware but don't do anything beneficial. Check the detection settings and make sure it's configured to block these annoyances. Likewise, your security suite may have components that aren't active until you turn them on. When you install a new security product, flip through all the pages of the main window, and at least take a glance at the settings. To be totally sure your antivirus is configured and working correctly, you can turn to the security features check page on the website of the AMTSO (Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization). Each feature-check page lists the antivirus tools that should pass. If yours shows up in the list but doesn't pass, it's time to contact tech support and find out why. 3. Use Unique Passwords for Every Login One of the easiest ways hackers steal information is by getting a batch of username and password combinations from one source and trying those same combinations elsewhere. For example, let's say hackers got your username and password by hacking an email provider. They might try to log into banking sites or major online stores using the same username and password combination. The single best way to prevent one data breach from having a domino effect is to use a strong, unique password for every single online account you have. Creating a unique and strong password for every account is not a job for a human. That why you use a password manager. Several very good password managers are free, and it takes little time to start using one. For-pay password managers generally offer more features, however. When you use a password manager, the only password you need to remember is the master password that locks the password manager itself. When unlocked, the password manager logs you into your online accounts automatically. That not only helps keep you safer, but also increases your efficiency and productivity. You no longer spend time typing your logins, or dealing with the time-consuming frustration of resetting a forgotten password. 4. Get a VPN and Use It Any time you connect to the Internet using a Wi-Fi network that you don't know, you should use a virtual private network, or VPN. Say you go to a coffee shop and connect to a free Wi-Fi network. You don't know anything about the security of that connection. It's possible that someone else on that network, without you knowing, could start looking through or stealing the files and data sent from your laptop or mobile device. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, routing it though a server owned by the VPN company. That means nobody, not even the owner of the free Wi-Fi network, can snoop on your data. Using a VPN also hides your IP address. Advertisers and trackers looking to identify or geolocate you via that IP address will instead see the VPN company's address. Spoofing your location using a VPN server in another country can also serve to unlock content that's not available in your own region. On a more serious note, journalists and activists in repressive countries have long used VPN technology to communicate securely. The upshot is that if you connect via Wi-Fi—whether it's on an laptop, phone or tablet—you really need a VPN. If you've never used one before, or the technology sounds a bit beyond your internet savvy, don't worry, we've got covered with our feature on how to set up and use a VPN. 5. Use Two-Factor Authentication Two-factor authentication can be a pain, but it absolutely makes your accounts more secure. Two-factor authentication means you need to pass another layer of authentication, not just a username and password, to get into your accounts. If the data or personal information in an account is sensitive or valuable, and the account offers two-factor authentication, you should enable it. Gmail, Evernote, and Dropbox are a few examples of online services that offer two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication verifies your identity using at least two different forms of authentication: something you are, something you have, or something you know. Something you know is the password, naturally. Something you are could mean authentication using a fingerprint, or facial recognition. Something you have could be your mobile phone. You might be asked to enter a code sent via text, or tap a confirmation button on a mobile app. Something you have could also be a physical Security Key; Google and Microsoft have announced a push toward this kind of authentication. If you just use a password for authentication, anyone who learns that password owns your account. With two-factor authentication enabled, the password alone is useless. Most password managers support two-factor, though some only require it when they detect a connection from a new device. Enabling two-factor authentication for your password manager is a must. Our feature on who has two-factor authentication and how to set it up can help you get started. 6. Use Passcodes Even When They Are Optional Apply a passcode lock wherever available, even if it's optional. Think of all the personal data and connections on your smartphone. Going without a passcode lock is unthinkable. Many smartphones offer a four-digit PIN by default. Don't settle for that. Use biometric authentication when available, and set a strong passcode, not a stupid four-digit PIN. Remember, even when you use Touch ID or equivalent, you can still authenticate with the passcode, so it needs to be strong. Modern iOS devices offer a six-digit option; ignore it. Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode and select Change Passcode (or Add Passcode if you don't have one). Enter your old passcode, if needed. On the screen to enter the new code, choose Custom Alphanumeric Code. Enter a strong password, then record it as a secure note in your password manager. Different Android devices offer different paths to setting a strong passcode. Find the Screen Lock settings on your device, enter your old PIN, and choose Password (if available). As with the iOS device, add a strong password and record it as a secure note. 7. Pay With Your Smartphone The system of credit card use is outdated and not very secure at all. That's not your fault, but there is something you can do about it. Instead of whipping out the old credit card, use Apple Pay or an Android equivalent everywhere you can. There are tons of choices when it comes to apps. In fact, we have an entire roundup of mobile payment apps. Setting up your smartphone as a payment device is typically a simple process. It usually starts with snapping a picture of the credit card that you'll use to back up your app-based payments. And setup pretty much ends there; you're ready. Point-of-sale terminals that support smartphone-based payment usually indicate the fact with an icon, from a picture of a hand holding a smartphone to a stylized representation of a radio wave. Just place your device on the terminal, authenticate with a thumbprint, and you've paid up. How is that better than using the credit card itself? The app generates a one-use authentication code, good for the current transaction only. Even if someone filched that code, it wouldn't do them any good. And paying with a smartphone app completely eliminates the possibility of data theft by a credit card skimmer. Some smartphone payment apps let you pay online with a similar one-time code. If yours doesn't, check with your credit card provider. Bank of America, for example, has a program called ShopSafe that works like this: You log into your account, generate a 16-digit number as well as a security code and "on-card" expiry date, and then you set a time for when you want all those digits to expire. You use the new temporary numbers in place of your real credit card when you shop online, and the charges go to your regular account. The temporary card number will not work again after it expires. Other banks offer similar services. The next time your credit card company or bank calls you to try and sell you upgrades, ask about one-time use card numbers. You can also get the protection of one-use credit card numbers using third-party apps. Abine Blur, for example, can mask credit card numbers, email addresses, and phone numbers. You shop and communicate as always, but the merchant doesn't receive your actual information. 8. Use Different Email Addresses for Different Kinds of Accounts People who are both highly organized and methodical about their security often use different email addresses for different purposes, to keep the online identities associated with them separate. If a phishing email claiming to be from your bank comes to the account you use only for social media, you know it's fake. Consider maintaining one email address dedicated to signing up for apps that you want to try, but which might have questionable security, or which might spam you with promotional messages. After you've vetted a service or app, sign up using one of your permanent email accounts. If the dedicated account starts to get spam, close it, and create a new one. This is a do-it-yourself version of the masked emails you get from Abine Blur and other disposable email account services. Many sites equate your email address with your username, but some let you select your own username. Consider using a different username every time—hey, your password manager remembers it! Now anyone trying to get into your account must guess both the username and the password. 9. Clear Your Cache Never underestimate how much your browser's cache knows about you. Saved cookies, saved searches, and Web history could point to home address, family information, and other personal data. 12 Things - Clear Browser To better protect that information that may be lurking in your Web history, be sure to delete browser cookies and clear your browser history on a regular basis. It's easy. In Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Opera, simply press Ctrl+Shift+Del to bring up a dialog that lets you choose which elements of browser data you want to clear. Deleting cookies may cause trouble for some websites—you may lose any personalization you've applied. Most browsers let you list favorite websites whose cookies shouldn't be tossed. For a complete guide to getting started, you can read our feature on how to clear your cache in any browser. 10. Turn Off the 'Save Password' Feature in Browsers Speaking of what your browser may know about you, most browsers include a built-in password management solution. We at PCMag don't recommend them, however. We feel it's best to leave password protection to the experts who make password managers. Think about this. When you install a third-party password manager, it typically offers to import your password from the browser's storage. If the password manager can do that, you can be sure some malicious software can do the same. In addition, keeping your passwords in a single, central password manager lets you use them across all browsers and devices. 11. Don't Fall Prey to Click Bait Part of securing your online life is being smart about what you click. Click bait doesn't just refer to cat compilation videos and catchy headlines. It can also comprise links in email, messaging apps, and on Facebook. Phishing links masquerade as secure websites, hoping to trick you into giving them your credentials. Drive-by download pages can cause malware to automatically download and infect your device. Don't click links in emails or text messages, unless they come from a source you're sure of. Even then, be cautious; your trusted source might have been compromised, or the message might be a fake. The same goes for links on social media sites, even in posts that seem to be from your friends. If a post seems unlike the style of your social media buddy, it could be a hack. 12. Protect Your Social Media Privacy The Facebook Data harvested by Cambridge Analytics hasdsecurity wonks in a tizzy. If you were smart enough to refrain from loading the app in question, the researchers didn't receive your personal data directly, but they may have gotten some details through your less-cautious friends. You can download your Facebook data to see just what the social media giant knows about you. It may be quite an eye-opener, especially if you're the kind of person who routinely clicks on quizzes that require access to your social media account. Really, you don't need to know which Marvel universe hero (or villain) you are. You can drastically reduce the amount of data going to Facebook by disabling the sharing platform entirely. Once you do, your friends can no longer leak your personal data. You can't lose data to apps, because you can't use apps. And you can't use Facebook to log into other websites (which was always a bad idea). Of course, other social media sites need attention too. Google probably knows more about you than Facebook, so take steps to manage your Google privacy, too. Make sure you've configured each social media site so that your posts aren't public (well, all except Twitter). Think twice before revealing too much in a post, since your friends might share it with others. With care you can retain your privacy without losing the entertainment and connections of social media.
  7. At this point, if you don’t want strangers to listen to recordings from your devices, it’s looking like you may just have to go off the grid. On Thursday, Microsoft became the latest tech giant to admit it uses human contractors to review its users’ audio. So in case you’ve lost track by now, that list also includes Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. The news comes via a quiet update to Microsoft’s online privacy statement, which slips in a new paragraph regarding how the company uses personal data. You can read the whole thing below, but the most important bit comes in the first sentence: Microsoft relies on “both automated and manual (human) methods of processing” when it comes to using your voice data to help improve its AI. The full statement reads: “Our processing of personal data for these purposes includes both automated and manual (human) methods of processing. Our automated methods often are related to and supported by our manual methods. For example, our automated methods include artificial intelligence (AI), which we think of as a set of technologies that enable computers to perceive, learn, reason, and assist in decision-making to solve problems in ways that are similar to what people do. To build, train, and improve the accuracy of our automated methods of processing (including AI), we manually review some of the predictions and inferences produced by the automated methods against the underlying data from which the predictions and inferences were made. For example, we manually review short snippets of a small sampling of voice data we have taken steps to de-identify to improve our speech services, such as recognition and translation.” Company pages for Skype Translator, Cortana, and Microsoft Support now also contain similar disclosures, Motherboard spotted Thursday, a change that comes after the outlet’s report last week found Microsoft employed contractors to review audio recordings from its devices and apps without disclosing this fact to users. Apple, Facebook, and Google have all suspended or partially suspended their use of contractors after being called out for the practice, and Amazon now allows users to decline permissions for human review of their audio recordings. But apparently, Microsoft is saying screw that noise. The company told Motherboard it will “continue to examine further steps we might be able to take” regarding human review, a.k.a. can’t stop, won’t stop. Gizmodo reached out to Microsoft to confirm this and did not receive an immediate response. However, according to a similarly worded company statement sent to TechCrunch, Microsoft is “always looking to improve transparency” and “will continue to examine further opportunities to improve.” In short, strangers are likely still going to be listening to some of your Skype and Cortana recordings, but at least you know about it now, right? Which makes it totally less creepy.
  8. For years, antivirus software from Kaspersky Lab may have given online marketers a way to track your web browsing habits. Although the company's products are designed to protect PCs from cyber threats, Kaspersky Lab chose a questionable way to prevent malicious activity on the web pages you visit. The products inject a piece of Javascript code into your internet browser, which can tell you if a website is clean or not. There's just one problem: The same Javascript code will also tag your machine with a unique identifier that any website you visit can read. For example, the code and the identifier can look like this: "https://gc.kis.v2.scr.kaspersky-labs.com/9344FDA7-AFDF-4BA0-A915-4D7EEB9A6615/main.js." Ronald Eikenberg, a journalist at German computer magazine c't, noticed the code and realized its privacy ramifications. "Any website can read the user's Kaspersky ID and use it for tracking. If the same Universally Unique Identifier comes back, or appears on another website of the same operator, they can see that the same computer is being used," he wrote on Thursday. The tech industry calls this "cross-site tracking," and many advertising networks as well as Facebook have used similar approaches involving internet cookies and plugins placed across mainstream web services to follow users from site to site. In Kaspersky's case, the company will generate a different identifier for each machine the antivirus software is installed on, and the identifier will persist, remaining permanent, according to Eikenberg. "Worse yet, the super tracking can even overcome the browser's Incognito mode," he added. Since fall 2015, the company has been injecting Javascript code via its various products, including Kaspersky Lab Internet Security and Kaspersky Lab Free Anti-Virus. Eikenberg even created a website to test whether he could extract and read the Kaspersky Lab's unique identifier. It turns out he could, which made him wonder: "If I was able to create a website in a short period of time that reads and saves the IDs, why couldn't others have done it at some point in the last four years?" Kaspersky Lab is downplaying the privacy risks. "After our internal research, we have concluded that such scenarios of [a user data] privacy compromise are theoretically possible but are unlikely to be carried out in practice, due to their complexity and low profitability for cybercriminals," the company said in a statement. Nevertheless, Kaspersky has changed its process for checking web pages for malicious activity by removing the unique identifier for each machine. According to Eikenberg, the identifiers will remain identical for all machines on which Kaspersky Lab's security software is installed. However, this approach can also be problematic; it can still tip off a website that you're using Kaspersky Lab's security software, which can be valuable information to a hacker. "They may use that information to distribute malware tailored to the protection software, or to redirect the browser to a suitable scamming page," he added. "Imagine something along the lines of 'Your Kaspersky license has expired. Please enter your credit card number to renew your subscription.'" If you're worried about the security risks, Kaspersky Lab offers a way for customers to turn off the Javascript injection. That said, online tracking and shady data collection have already become pervasive on the internet through free apps such as Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, and Google's Chrome browser, which can record all the sites you visit. To stay safe, you can consult our guide.
  9. Computer scientists at the University of California San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering have developed a smartphone app that can quickly and accurately detect the presence of an illegal credit or debit card skimmer installed on a gas station pump, reducing inspection times from 30 minutes to just three seconds. Card skimmers are a problem on all kinds of devices requiring you to insert or slide your plastic, but for ATMs, which are nearly impossible to hack open, and payment terminals inside a store, external hardware has to be added which aren’t that hard to spot if you know what you’re looking for. Gas station pumps are a different story, however. Most can easily be opened using a universal key which isn’t hard to acquire, allowing the skimming hardware to be installed inside so it’s completely invisible to unsuspecting users. To retrieve the data that’s collected throughout a day, like card numbers and PINs, criminals just need to pull up nearby and download it all over a wireless Bluetooth connection. But it’s that functionality which allows this app to detect the illegal hardware. The team from the University of California San Diego, who worked with other computer scientists from the University of Illinois, developed an app called Bluetana which not only scans and detects Bluetooth signals, but can actually differentiate those coming from legitimate devices—like sensors, smartphones, or vehicle tracking hardware—from card skimmers that are using the wireless protocol as a way to harvest stolen data. The full details of what criteria Bluetana uses to differentiate the two isn’t being made public, but its algorithm takes into account metrics like signal strength and other telltale markers that were pulled from data based on scans made at 1,185 gas stations across six different states. So far Bluetana has been successfully used to find 42 Bluetooth-based card skimmers installed in gas pumps across three states, including two that had been operating for almost six months without detection. But don’t expect to be able to whip out your phone and perform a quick security scan the next time you go to fill up your car. The computer scientists who developed Bluetana worked closely with the United States Secret Service and for the time being, it’s a tool only available to official gas pump inspectors. The concern is that making it available to the public will allow those who design and engineer the card skimming hardware to figure out what it’s specifically scanning for, and find ways to circumvent its effectiveness.
  10. Nobody this side of Howe & Howe knows how to overcompensate like the Rezvani team, and the new Tank X is so brutally macho that you'd need to be Dwayne Johnson to hang your arm out the window and look right. If this was painted camouflage, which is an option, you wouldn't be able to see it... As if 2017's regular old Tank wasn't wild enough, or the Tank Military Edition didn't take this thing to a crazy enough level, Rezvani has gone bananas and built the most powerful SUV in the world. "Designed to be a daily driver," the Tank X can be optioned with a 6.2-liter blown V8 – the 840-hp one from the Dodge Demon, but further fettled to pump out "over 1,000 horsepower" (746 kW) and 870 lb-ft (1,180 Nm) of torque. According to our calculations, that puts this outrageous machine in the hypercar category. Indeed, this is the first hyper-SUV. The design has evolved since the first tank – perhaps our man C.C. Weiss's complaints were heard, because Samir Sadikhov's new Tank Xs styling maintains the original car's Rambo-grade military stealth feel while dialing back some of the more awkward features, like the old car's "is that a back window or a widescreen telly" rear end. You can put us down as a fan of the new bodywork, even if the back doors still look like a weird compromise. The base grade suspension uses Fox 2.0 shocks at each corner with four inches (100 mm) of lift, but you can option that up to Fox 3.0 Extreme shocks with six inches (150 mm) if you really wanna show 'em who's boss, and there's a little pop-out step to help you hoist yourself up and into the cabin. The brakes, on the other hand, start out as big as they get: eight-piston calipers on 16-inch (406.4 mm) discs. The standard tires appear to be Nitto Trail Grapplers, which Nitto claims were "forged in the fires of motorsport." So who knows, maybe they might hang on for a quarter of a second when you drop a gumboot into the guts of your one-thousand-horsepower supercharged V8. Oh, and unless you've got the 4WD mode selected, all that power's headed to just two of the wheels. It's probably for the best if the tires spin – if they gripped, this thing might have the torque to wheelie away from the traffic lights. Actually, when you think of it that way, let's get Pirelli to make some high-sided Trofeo Rs with dirt tread. The interior is all fancy and luxury, which is frankly a little disappointing looking at the exterior. It should be bare metal seats in there, with cantaloupe-sized indentations to cradle your mighty cojones and a gun rack for each seat. If you want to go totally berserk, the Rezvani Tank X has ballistic armor, thermal night vision, underbody bomb shields, ram bumpers, electrified door handles, sirens, strobe lights, smoke bombs, cloud-connected video surveillance, intercoms, gas masks, blinding lights and other goodies. The old one had the ability to drop loads of metal spikes designed to rip up the tires of anyone following you – we'd assume that's included too, or at least an option. The Military Edition is also equipped with an EMP protection system that surpasses all known military standards. It'll handle up to 40 EMP strikes in a row, whether they're created by EMP weapons or as a by-product of nuclear explosions, protecting your vehicle's electronics from blasts of more than 100,000 amps and activating within 500 trillionths of a second. So if that's something that happens a lot in your neighborhood, we guess this is the car for you. Who is this the car for? Well, apparently the first of the original bulletproof Tanks was sold to musician and Rihanna-batterer Chris Brown. Actor/musician Jamie Foxx has been seen with one, as have MMA star Rampage Jackson and rapper Xzibit. I can't think of a better daily driver for somebody like Dan Bilzerian, although perhaps he might need something with more space, since he's rarely seen without a minimum gaggle of at least four bikini models and a pallet-load of machine guns. The Rezvani Tank X is an extraordinary machine, a humble Jeep Wrangler that's been stripped back to nothing and rebuilt into the most testosterone-soaked, intimidating urban war machine imaginable. And we mean that, we genuinely feel that if Rezvani could imagine a way to make this thing more scary or badass, they'd have done it in a heartbeat. Nobody combines shirt-ripping looks, insane power and James Bond gadgetry quite like these guys, and while it's probably not the car for you and us, we're delighted to live in a world where this thing exists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmem5DTqm6k
  11. If you're using Chrome on Android, you can now sign-in to your Google account and some of the other Google services by simply using your fingerprint, instead of typing in your password every time. Google is rolling out a new feature, called "local user verification," that allows you to log in to both native applications and web services by registering your fingerprint or any other method you've set up to unlock your Android device, including pins, pattern or password. The newly introduced mechanism, which has also been named "verify it's you," takes advantage of Android's built-in FIDO2 certified security key feature that Google rolled out earlier this year to all devices running Android version 7.0 Nougat or later. Besides FIDO2 protocol, the feature also relies on W3C WebAuthn (Web Authentication API) and FIDO Client to Authenticator Protocol (CTAP), which are designed to provide simpler and more secure authentication mechanism that sites can use for secure web-based logins. It should be noted that your fingerprint is never sent to Google servers; instead, the design works by only sharing a cryptographic proof that you've correctly authenticated using the registered platform-bound FIDO credential. "Now, when the user visits a compatible service, such as passwords.google.com, we issue a WebAuthn 'Get' call, passing in the credentialId that we got when creating the credential. The result is a valid FIDO2 signature," Google explains in a post published today. For now, Google has added this functionality to "passwords.google.com," an online platform where you can view and edit your saved passwords. Users with Android 7.0 (Nougat) or later, can set it up if they have a valid screen lock enabled and Google account added to their devices. Google is working on expanding and adding this functionality to more Google and Google Cloud services in the near future. The feature would be useful for people who follow basic security practices of creating strong and unique passwords for each website but face trouble in remembering them. Besides this, you are also highly recommended to enable two-step verification, including Titan Security Keys and Android phone's built-in security key, for your online accounts that would prevent hackers from gaining access to your accounts even when they have your password. Google has already started rolling out this new feature for some Android phones, and will make it available for all Android smartphones running Android 7 or later "over the next few days."
  12. The 'El Capitan' supercomputer is being built to simulate nuclear explosions. 'It will give us answers about the nuclear stockpile more accurately and more quickly than ever before,' said Bill Goldstein, director at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab. The US is spending another $600 million to build its third "exascale" supercomputer, which will be focused on simulating nuclear explosions. On Tuesday, the Department of Energy announced "El Capitan," a machine designed to achieve 1.5 exaflops, or 1.5 quintillion calculations per second. The processing power will dwarf the capabilities of the top 100 supercomputers combined when it's completed in late 2022 at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California. El Capitan will have a special mission: It'll conduct classified experiments to ensure that the US's nuclear weapons arsenal remains in good working order. The US government is building the supercomputer to serve the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the federal agency charged with maintaining the country's nuclear weapons stockpile. In 1992, the US conducted its last live nuclear test, and since then, the country has relied on supercomputers to carry out the detonations virtually. Supercomputer Nuclear Explosion But creating an accurate simulation isn't easy; it requires a vast amount of computing power when you're trying to predict how a nuclear explosion will unfold at a molecular level. A 3D simulation, as opposed to a 2D simulation, needs even more processing power. The world's second fastest supercomputer, Sierra, is routinely simulating such tests, but at under 0.125 exaflops. In contrast, the upcoming El Capitan system is expected to be about ten times faster. "It will give us answers about the nuclear stockpile more accurately and more quickly than ever before," Bill Goldstein, director at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, told journalists in a press call. Specifically, El Capitan promises to help scientists and weapon designers come up with new materials and components to keep the US's nuclear arsenal safe and operational. "Virtually every component to the warhead and delivery systems must be redesigned and remanufactured to maintain the same capabilities we had in 1992," Goldstein added. To build the exascale supercomputer, the US government has hired high-performance computing vendor Cray. El Capitan will incorporate both CPUs and GPUs into the architecture. However, Cray is still determining which chip vendors, such as Intel, AMD and Nvidia, will supply the silicon to the upcoming supercomputer. Running El Capitain will also require a lot of electricity. Goldstein said he expects it may end up using as much as 30 megawatts of power, which is more than twice as much electricty as the world's current fastest supercomputer, Summit. Outside of nuclear testing, El Capitan will be used for research related to national security, including protecting critical infrastructure. Once the supercomputer is completed, it's scheduled to start conducting the nuclear research in 2023. The US's two other exascale supercomputers, Frontier and Aurora, will arrive earlier in 2021. Combined all three machines will cost an estimated $1.7 billion to build. But the US isn't alone in trying to create an exascale computer. China is also developing its own exascale machines, which could also start arriving in 2021.
  13. Back in February, TV distributor International Media Distribution launched legal action in Australia's Federal Court targeting IPTV provider Reelplay. The company and two partners wanted local ISPs to block the platform due to alleged copyright infringement. However, for reasons unknown, the applicants have now terminated their case. Changes to the law now make it relatively straightforward to have blatant ‘pirate’ sites blocked by ISPs in Australia. Entertainment industry groups have targeted dozens of sites using the streamlined system, including many of the top torrent and streaming platforms. For reasons that remain unclear, however, one application for a blocking order now appears to have hit the stops. Back in February, an application for injunction filed in Federal Court saw TV distributor International Media Distribution (IMD) targeting Reelplay, an IPTV provider that specializes in Italian, Greek, and Arabic programming. Luxembourg-registered IMD describes itself as the single largest provider of ethnic channels to US-based multi-billion dollar TV distributor, Dish Network, and the “leading aggregator and marketer of niche television services to various ethnic communities around the globe.” In the application for an injunction (pdf), IMD was joined by two other companies – Netherlands-based distributor Overlook Management BV and Lebanon-based pan-Arab TV station Al Jadeed. Together they complained that Reelplay offered 15 TV channels for which they are the exclusive licensee. Given that Reelplay indicates on its site that it is “not responsible for the content and do not guarantee nor claim any rights to the content”, this seemed like a fairly straightforward case for the applicants, at least on the surface. However, something appears to have gone wrong. “Justice Burley told the applicants that he would pay ‘particularly close attention’ to proof of service in the matter and said that [the applicants] needed to ensure they fulfilled the requirements of Section 115a of the Copyright Act,” writes Rohan Pearce. Since then the Judge issued several orders which required, among other things, for Overlook Management to be joined as an applicant, and the applicants to serve affidavit and schedules of evidence. On June 28, 2019, the Judge noted that the matter had been listed for hearing on August 16, 2019. However, a subsequent order, dated August 8, stated that the applicants had been granted leave to file a notice of discontinuance. Yesterday, the court indicated that a final order had been handed down, terminating the case. No details to explain the move are on record at the court, so it remains open to question whether some kind of agreement has been reached with Reelplay or if the case hit some kind of technical or legal block. Reelplay doesn’t list the channels it offers to the public on its site but discontinuing the disputed channels would at least have the potential to undermine the action. Either way, the Reelplay site appears to be fully functional and capable of taking orders for the Arabic package in question. It features an Android-based box loaded with 450+ channels plus a 24-month subscription, priced at AUS$230. Only time will tell if the companies in question will return for a second bite at the cherry.
  14. A lawsuit against the alleged 'pirate' IPTV provider GoldTV is gearing up to be a test case for pirate site blocking in Canada. A group of major broadcasters and telco giants, including Rogers and Bell, has obtained an interim injunction against GoldTV, and reportedly plans to request a site blocking order next month. Last year, a coalition of copyright holders and major players in the telco industry asked the Canadian Government to institute a national pirate site blocking scheme. The Fairplay coalition argued that such measures would be required to effectively curb online piracy. Canada’s telco regulator CRTC reviewed the request but eventually denied the application, noting that it lacks jurisdiction. While the denial came as a setback, the main players pushing for site blocking are not letting the matter go easily. Bell and Rogers, two of the main proponents of the mechanism, later tried to get a blocking regime instituted through the planned revision of the Copyright Act. Thus far there are no signs that they’re getting what they want, but there is another path to site-blocking that the two companies, together with Groupe TVA, are about to explore. Last month we reported on a lawsuit the three companies filed against the operators of ‘pirate’ IPTV service operating from the domain names GoldTV.ca and GoldTV.biz. The companies argued that the service provides access to their TV content without licenses or authorization. “The GoldTV.biz Service provides unauthorized access to hundreds (if not thousands) of live television channels and video-on-demand content,” the complaint filed at the Federal Court reads. Among other things, the companies requested an interim injunction to stop the operator(s), who remain unidentified, from continuing to offer the allegedly-infringing IPTV service. This request was reviewed by the Federal Court in Ontario, which granted it late last week. According to Justice Catherine Kane, the telecom companies would suffer “irreparable harm” if the two GoldTV sites were to continue. The interim order will remain in place until a final determination of the claims is made. Among other things, the operator(s) are forbidden from operating, maintaining, promoting, or selling any infringing services, including GoldTV. While the copyright holders are likely to be happy with this preliminary ruling, the follow-up step may prove to be even more interesting. According to The Wire, the copyright holders will move for a website blocking order next month. This order, which they plan to formally request in September, will request various ISPs including Bell Media, Eastlink, Cogeco Inc., Rogers’ Fido, Shaw Communications Inc., TekSavvy Solutions Inc., Telus Corp., and Videotron to block the GoldTV sites. This will be the first time that these companies have requested a pirate site blocking order in Canada. Interestingly, several of the ISPs that are targeted are connected to the copyright holders. As such, it is unlikely that there will be any protests from their side. However, other ISPs, such as Techsavvy, may object to the requested order, if it’s formally submitted. This could then turn into a test case for court-ordered pirate site blockades in Canada. The question remains, however, if the rightsholders will push through with their request. While GoldTV.ca was still operational yesterday, the site has now become unreachable. The same is true for GoldTV.biz, which doesn’t load either. That said, both sites could of course reappear. It is clear, however, that after requests to get a blocking regime instated through the CRTC, Bell, Rogers, and others are now considering filing a blocking order through the court. And if they are successful, more will likely follow. A two-day hearing on the GoldTV case is currently scheduled for September 11/12, and we will likely hear more after that.
  15. The dentist's drill is a sound that sends shudders down the spines of many people, so it sure would be nice if teeth could just repair themselves. Thankfully that's not as far-fetched as it sounds – researchers from the University of Plymouth have found a new population of stem cells in mice that are in charge of repairing tooth tissue and could be recruited to help us patch up cavities. Proper dental care is drilled (pun intended) into kids for a very good reason: our teeth are with us for life. Dentin, a tough tissue that covers the main body of a tooth, is one of the few parts of the human body that can't regenerate naturally, which is what makes tooth decay and injuries such a frustrating problem. But not all animals are this limited. Many rodents, for example, have incisors (front teeth) that continuously grow over their lifetimes, to the point where they have to constantly gnaw on things to wear them down. The researchers on the new study focused on how these teeth regrow dentin, which we humans can't regenerate. In the teeth of these mice, the team discovered a new population of mesenchymal stem cells, which are found in muscle and bone. The researchers showed that these cells are responsible for creating new dentin, controlling the number of new cells produced through a molecular gene called Dlk1. In a further step, the team found that the Dlk1 gene not only plays an important part in the ongoing process of growing tooth tissue, but it does help patch up injuries as well. "Stem cells are so important, as, in the future, they could be used by laboratories to regenerate tissues that have been damaged or lost due to disease – so it's vital to understand how they work," says Bing Hu, lead researcher on the study. "By uncovering both the new stem cells that make the main body of a tooth and establishing their vital use of Dlk1 in regenerating the tissue, we have taken major steps in understanding stem cell regeneration." Of course, there's a big asterisk next to this conclusion – human teeth are very different, not least because they don't naturally regenerate. Further work will need to be done to determine if this same gene and stem cells can be manipulated in humans to unlock the ability to regrow dentin. In the meantime, there are other techniques that may be closer to fruition. Last year, scientists from the University of Pennsylvania used stem cells harvested from patients' baby teeth to repair injuries to permanent teeth. This work was done in humans, so that bridge has already been crossed. Other techniques involve painting peptide-based fluids onto damaged teeth to stimulate them to regenerate, or even using low-powered lasers to coax dental stem cells to form dentin. The new work was published in the journal Nature Communications. Source: University of Plymouth