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May 21, 2012 at 7:01 PM
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U.K. parents can control kids' phones

LONDON, May 21 (UPI) -- A cellphone SIM card remotely managed by a computer will allow parents to control a child's phone and protect the child from bullying, a British company says.

Bemilo says its system, to run on the British Vodafone network, will allow parents to stop their children from going online, texting or making or receiving calls during certain hours.

"It's a SIM that is just like any other SIM you would buy for any other network, but it enables parents to have full control in the context of safety," Simon Goff, founder and chairman of Bemilo, told the BBC.

"They can allow or disallow certain contacts to call them, and they can set the times of day the phone can operate."

The SIM would help protect children from mobile phone bullying or "sexting" through unwanted phone calls or texts, Britain's Family and Parenting Institute said.

The system will enable parents to help ensure their children's safety, Goff said.

For example, he said, if parents wanted to deactivate the phone during school hours, they could do so remotely from a Web site on their computer.

However, even if the child's phone is disabled, parents can manage the handset in such a way that they are able to reach the child and the child is able to contact them, he said.

Bemilo said in a survey of 2,000 parents, 25 percent reported their children have been subjected to cellphone bullying.

High mercury levels found in wild dolphins

BALTIMORE, May 21 (UPI) -- A study has found higher levels of toxic mercury in dolphins downwind of power plants than in captive dolphins, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists from The Johns Hopkins University and The National Aquarium said they compared levels of the chemical in captive dolphins fed a controlled diet with dolphins found in the wild that dine on marine life that may carry more of the toxic metal.

Levels of mercury were lower in the captive animals compared to wild dolphins tested off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida, a state that is in the path of mercury-laden fumes from power plants, they reported Monday.

Since the research was a small, pilot study, researchers cautioned against drawing wide-ranging conclusions.

"This is just one snapshot, one puzzle piece," said Edward Bouwer, chair of the department of geography and environmental engineering at Johns Hopkins.

"What we'd like to do now is repeat this project with aquariums in other parts of the world. The goal is to get a clearer comparison of mercury-related health risks facing dolphins both in captivity and in the wild."

The captive dolphins in the study were fed smaller fish from North Atlantic waters where mercury pollution is less prevalent, researchers said.

"The aquarium dolphins were fed a consistent level of small fish --capelin and herring -- that were caught in North Atlantic waters off Newfoundland and New England," Johns Hopkins environmental scientist Yongseok Hong said. "Lower levels of mercury are expected in these waters, compared to the waters off Florida."

In December, after the study was conducted, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted strict standards aimed at reducing the release of toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants, a key source of mercury contamination in sea water.

Ancient jewelry found at Israel site

TEL AVIV, Israel, May 21 (UPI) -- A gold earring in a collection of ancient jewelry unearthed in northern Israel suggests the hoard could have Egyptian origins, archaeologists say.

The gold and silver jewelry was hidden inside a vessel found in the Jezreel Valley and dated to around 1100 B.C., Tel Aviv University reported Monday.

At least some of the pieces could have originated in nearby Egypt, Tel Aviv researcher Eran Arie said, as some of the materials and designs are consistent with Egyptian designs from the same period.

The vessel, found in the remains of a private home in the ancient Canaanite city-state of Tel Megiddo, was probably not the jewelry's normal storage place, researchers said.

"It's clear that people tried to hide the collection, and for some reason they were unable to come back to pick it up," David Ussishkin said

The find was dated to just after the end of Egyptian rule in the 12th century B.C., Arie said, suggest either the jewelry was left behind in the Egyptian withdrawal or the people who owned the jewelry were influenced by Egyptian culture.

A connection with Israel would not be surprising, archaeologists said, because interactions between Egypt and Megiddo are known to have taken place during both the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

The gold earring decorated with molded ibexes, or wild goats, is the most interesting piece, they said.

"For unique items, we work to find parallels to help place the items in their correct cultural and chronological settings, but in this case we still haven't found anything," they said.

Flaw found in common network security tech

ANN ARBOR, Mich., May 21 (UPI) -- A popular technology used to provide security on cellular networks can unwittingly help a hacker break into Facebook and Twitter accounts, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Michigan said the technology, known as network firewall middleboxes, is meant to block data that doesn't appear to be part of the flow of information traffic on the network.

Of the nearly 150 networks computer science Professor Z. Morley Mao and doctoral student Zhiyun Qian tested worldwide, 32 percent used the middlebox technology, the University reported Monday.

An attacker could hijack an Internet connection using them, the researchers said.

Middleboxes monitor the "sequence numbers" of data packets being sent to mobile devices.

For example when a smartphone user takes a photo and shares it with a friend, the researchers said, it gets broken down into numerous packets before it's sent across the network.

The friend's smartphone looks to the sequence numbers to put the picture back together.

Middleboxes could help hackers use the process of elimination to home in on a number in the right range, as the middlebox can unwittingly let a hacker know when he's identified a sequence number that will allow a packet through.

Armed with a valid sequence number, the hacker could spoof Facebook or Twitter's Web log-in page and gain the user's passwords, the researchers said.

"Firewall middleboxes are supposed to protect against this kind of attack, but it turns out they do the opposite," Qian said. "Most vendors and carriers that deploy such firewall middleboxes still believe they are safe and we want them to be aware of this design flaw."

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