Internet’s Missing Second; Skeleton Key; Android Exploits; iPhone Addiction

Posted January 13th, 2015 at 2:18 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

‘Leap Second’ Threatens to Break the Internet

According to the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service announced, the Earth’s rotation has slowed by a second. That means the planet — and its computer systems that will have to grapple with this issue – need an extra second to catch up. This is expected to occur on June 30.

David Cameron in ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ Over Encrypted Messaging Apps Ban

Cybersecurity experts are in an uproar after British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Tuesday that he would ban encrypted communications that security services cannot access, including several messaging apps. Some cybersecurity experts call the move a knee-jerk reaction that would undermine consumer security.

‘Skeleton Key’ Malware Unlocks Corporate Networks

According to the Dell SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit, the recently-discovered “Skeleton Key” allows hackers to bypass single-factor authentication systems that rely only on passwords for security and use the passwords to authenticate users and penetrate the network.

China Shuts 50 Websites and Social Media Accounts

The Cyberspace Administration of China says Beijing has shuttered 50 websites and social media accounts for wide-ranging violations, including “publishing political news without a permit.”

Google Refuses to Patch Exploit Affecting About a Billion Android Users

Google is refusing to patch security vulnerabilities in Android OS version 4.3 or earlier, affecting nearly a billion devices running Android OS 4.1- 4.3.  A recently-discovered exploit in the Android Browser WebView version was reported to Google, but the company said it “will not be able to take action on any report that is affecting versions before 4.4 that are not accompanied with a patch.”

Microsoft Ends Mainstream Support for Windows 7

While Microsoft’s Mainstream Support for Windows 7 ends today, Windows 7 users will get Extended Support until January 14, 2020. That includes security updates, but users will no longer have access to free incident support, warranty claims, various fixes or new features.

Language Translation Tech Starts to Deliver on Its Promise

Google’s mobile translation app, which includes 90 languages, is being updated to automatically recognize the language a user is speaking and turn it into text. The move follows Microsoft’s lead last month, when the tech giant’s Skype video calling service added a simultaneous translation feature for English and Spanish speakers.

iPhone Separation Anxiety Causes Problems

According to researchers at the University of Missouri, users separated from their iPhones — essentially extensions of themselves — experience psychological and physiological effects that “can negatively impact performance” in mental tasks and exhibit increased blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

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