OpenSSL is a widely used protocol for providing secure internet traffic. The "Heartbleed" bug takes advantage of a hole in OpenSSL to peer into the memory of SSL servers. It can allow a hacker to ping 64K of random memory repeatedly, thereby allowing them to glean usernames and passwords, and even fake a server certificate.
This Week in Tech News
The OpenSSL Library, a security function used in most encrypted websites, has been discovered to have a bug which the NSA has been using to spy on users in 2/3rds of the websites on the internet. It is able to read the memory of the webserver and leaves no trace. It's been there for about two years. Bad guys can use it to co-opt a site's certificate for "man in the middle" attacks.
The latest version of Gmail's iOS app will not only support background app refresh, but also will provide for sign in across all Google apps. This means that once a user signs into gmail, he or she is automatically signed into all Google apps. This also works for signing out. This is leaving users up in arms over the fact that Google is even more intrusive in their daily mobile lives. Users are also complaining that the app refresh will eat up more battery power. In Europe, countries are investigating Google over privacy issues as a result.
'Office Space' and 'Beavis and Butthead' creator Mike Judge is doing a show based on Silicon Valley startups, which premiered Sunday night on HBO. Reactions from actual Silicon Valley entrepreneurs was mixed, as to be expected. It's based on stereotypes that may not be completely accurate and will likely be rejected by some in the community. Within three minutes of the first episode, Eric Schmidt of Google makes a cameo appearance, and there's an in-joke about Steve Ballmer. Mike Judge is trying to give the show mass comedy appeal while still appealing to geeks as well.
Amazon announced Fire TV this week, a device that is positioned to compete with AppleTV and Roku. Leo says it pretty much does the same things, but for an extra $40, you can get a wireless game controller to play games on it. Leo says it's essentially a computer running an Android OS; a smartphone minus the screen. It runs a quad core Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM, and will play Android games. Apple and Roku plan to implement this as well, but Amazon beat them to the punch.
This week, privacy advocates were up in arms over the story that Microsoft had read the personal Hotmail of an employee they suspected was stealing company secrets. The argument was that that Hotmail is a free service that Microsoft owns and since the employee knows that, they had the right to read his email to see what he was up to. Microsoft has promised to go through more mainstream legal channels before doing it again.
The 2014 version of the HTC One, known internally as the M8, arrived this week. Leo says that the new version is a definite upgrade with a beautiful 5 inch screen. HTC also improved many things Leo wasn't too thrilled with in the original One, like the carrier and manufacturer add-ons. While there's still preinstalled carrier and manufacturer junk on top of Android, HTC has at least made their 'Sense' user interface a little less offensive.
Explaining that he had no choice but to pay Comcast's "toll" to allow users to stream Netflix content, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings blasted the cable company for anti-competitive behavior. "The essence of net neutrality is that ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast don't restrict, influence or otherwise meddle with the choices consumers make," wrote Hastings on the Netflix blog. "The traditional form of net neutrality which was recently overturned by a Verizon lawsuit is important, but insufficient."
Making it available on every platform, Microsoft finally made their note taking app OneNote free in an attempt to take on Evernote. We also think that Microsoft will announce plans to release Microsoft Office for iPad. Leo also believes a touch centric Office suite is coming for Windows 8 Surface tablets as well. But while people are enjoying the tablet experience, Leo says it seems like Microsoft is forcing touch on computer users.