Here are today's top 10 stories from Tech News Today for December 19, 2013:
- Get ready for a new credit card number shoppers! Retailer Target admits nearly 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been illegally accessed by hackers between November 27th and December 15th. The Wall Street Journal and Brian Krebs report the stolen info came from credit-card and debit-card data captured in stores during the Black Friday weekend. The US Secret Service is investigating along with a 3rd-party security forensics team brought in by Target. Read more at arstechnica.com.
- The US National Security Agency just got told to back off. In August, US President Barack Obama commissioned a panel of five intelligence and legal experts to review the NSA’s surveillance program. Among its 46 recommendations the panel suggests cell phone metadata should remain under the control of a telecom company or independent consortium and the NSA should get a court order for all queries or data mining. The report states the recommendations are meant "to safeguard the privacy and dignity of American citizens...while also allowing the intelligence community to do what must be done to respond to genuine threats.” The recommendations are not binding. Read more at nytimes.com.
- The Washington Post reports that tinfoil hat wearing crazies like me who cover their laptop cameras with post-it notes may have accidentally been right. Research from Johns Hopkins University provides the first public confirmation that it’s possible to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording. IN Apple’s MacBook, the camera light is hardware locked to the camera however, researchers were able to reprogram the chip inside the camera to subvert the process. Their demonstration only works on Apple laptops up to 2008 but in theory could be made to work on later models and from other manufacturers. Read more at washingtonpost.com.
- The CES pre-announcements are flooding in, and what a shocker, huge TVs are expected! LG and Samsung are both expected to show off 105-inch curved 4K TVs, aka Ultra HD. Both TV makers call their new display the first and largest curved Ultra HD TV so far. Each of the LCD displays has 11 million pixels, compared to 2 million in current HDTVs and a 21:9 CinemaScope style aspect ratio. Read more at usatoday.com.
- Reddit’s Secret Santa program pairs Redditors together to buy cool stuff for each other based on wish lists posts and profile. NY1227, also known as Rachel, was pleased to get a stuffed animal, donation to Heifer International and a book on travel. She became downright giddy when she found out her secret Santa was Bill Gates. Gates even took a picture with the gifts to prove he wasn’t just pretending to be himself. Read more at redditgifts.com.
- Reuters reports Dish is considering making a bid for T-Mobile USA next year, which would once again put them in a bidding war against Sprint owner Softbank, which is also rumored to be interested in acquiring T-Mobile. Dish lost out to Softbank in acquiring Sprint, and also made an attempt to buy T-Mobile previously when AT&T tried. Reuters sources say Dish isn’t decided yet but would likely not sit on the sidelines if Sprint makes a bid. Read more at theverge.com.
- The Washington Post admitted today that unknown outsiders gained access to the news company’s servers for several days and stole employees’ user names and passwords. The company is still investigating how much data was exposed. No subscriber information seems to have been accessed. Post officials believe the intrusion may be the work of Chinese hackers, because Chinese hackers. Read more at washingtonpost.com.
- A video purporting to be a demonstration of a Yahoo app with impressive Siri like functionality has been making the rounds and spiked in popularity yesterday when published by Android Police. Yahoo told TechCrunch the video was a fake. Turned out it wasn’t a fake but also wasn’t from Yahoo. According to TechCrunch The app was made by a natural language/speech recognition/navigation startup Robin Labs. CEO of Robin Labs Ilya Eckstein said the company is making a personal assistant and navigation app that brands could offer their content in. Yahoo is one of the potential brands that would use it. Read more at techcrunch.com.
- Telegram, a service that wants to be cloud-based secure messaging is putting its funders’ money where its encryption is. Telegram backer Pavel Durov will give $200,000 in BTC to the first person to break Telegram' encrypted protocol. Starting today Durov wills end an encrypted message with a secret email address encoded inside. To wing he bit coins you’ll need to break the encryption, decipher the message and send your findings tot he secret email. Thanks to hbichuelacondulce for submitting this on our subreddit. Read more at telegram.com.
- UK ISPs have been rolling out government-mandated porn filters over the last year or so. BBC’s news night took the filters for a spin. They found that Talk Talk’s filter only blocked 93% of the porn sites they tried, while it did block several award-winning educational sites and a sexual abuse center’s site. Sky’s filter blocked 99% of porn sites but also caught porn-addiction treatment sites in its net. Read more at bbc.co.uk.
For insight, analysis, and discussion of these topics and more, check out Tech News Today for December 19, 2013.