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Today in Tech News Digest, an Internet Explorer flaw, government-built social networks, Netflix as a cable channel, ComiXology in-app purchases, Cortana hates children, a Codecademy makeover, and E.T. found in the desert.

Internet Explorer Suffers Critical Flaw

A serious security flaw has been discovered in all versions of Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s much-maligned Web browser. The zero-day vulnerability is present in Internet Explorer 6 through 11 and could allow hackers to gain access to users’ computers.

Microsoft issued a security advisory regarding the issue, in which it says it’s “aware of limited, targeted attacks.” These are taking the form of drive-bys, where users are tricked into visiting malicious websites which trigger the attack.

The U.S. tech giant is working on fixing the issue, with patches likely to be rolled out soon. However, no patch will ever arrive for Windows XP now that Microsoft has ended support Microsoft Kills Windows XP, Hollywood Sues Megaupload, Virus Shield Scam [Tech News Digest] Microsoft Kills Windows XP, Hollywood Sues Megaupload, Virus Shield Scam [Tech News Digest] RIP Windows XP, Hollywood sues Megaupload, Virus Shield scam, Xbox 360 emulation, multiplayer Goat Simulator, and Mario escapes into the real world. Read More for the aged operating system.

Internet Explorer users are advised to switch to an alternative browser until this vulnerability is patched. Or, at the very least, download the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) and employ the utmost common sense when browsing the Web.

The U.S. Built Multiple Social Networks

At the beginning of April we learned that the U.S. Government was behind ZunZuneo Net Neutrality, Cuban Twitter, Brendan Eich, Open Source .Net [Tech News Digest] Net Neutrality, Cuban Twitter, Brendan Eich, Open Source .Net [Tech News Digest] Net neutrality in Europe, Cuban Twitter plot revealed, Brendan Eich resigns, open source .Net, new Kinect for Windows, Lingua.ly on Android, and the advanced Bitcoin simulator. Read More , a Twitter-like social network in Cuba set up to stir unrest in the communist country. It turns out ZunZuneo was just one of many such initiatives.

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As reported by the New York Times, the Obama administration recently revealed the nature of these programs, which operated in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, and dozens of other countries around the world.

Unlike ZunZuneo, many, but not all, of these U.S. Government-mandated social networks have been run with the knowledge and cooperation of foreign governments. All were designed to allow the younger generations in these countries to connect with each other, and hopefully be better versed in the idea of democracy.

Netflix Becomes A Cable Channel

Netflix, which is often seen as the mortal enemy of traditional media, has inked a deal with three cable companies to bring its service to set-tops boxes. The companies in question, RCN, Grande Communications, and Atlantic Broadband, will integrate Netflix into their services.

David Isenberg, chief marketing officer for Atlantic Broadband, explained to the Washington Post, “If you’re an RCN customer, perhaps in the D.C. area you would pick up your remote control, you would tune to Channel 450, and there you’d find Netflix. You’d select it and that’ll launch the Netflix app.

These three cable companies aren’t major players — with only around 500,000 customers between them — but this is still an important step in getting Netflix accepted by traditional media corporations.

ComiXology Removes In-App Purchases

Just weeks after purchasing ComiXology Amazon Prime Air Update, OpenSSL Author Speaks, Google Glass For All [Tech News Digest] Amazon Prime Air Update, OpenSSL Author Speaks, Google Glass For All [Tech News Digest] Amazon Prime Air progress report, OpenSSL Heartbleed culprit speaks, Google Glass for everyone, gamers get frustrated, Amazon buys ComiXology, Skype TX arrives, and S.E.L.F.I.E. automates the selfie-taking process. Read More , Amazon has updated the iOS app to remove the capacity for in-app purchases. Comic book fans could previously purchase comics directly through the app, but will now be directed to the website in order to checkout.

This means Amazon avoids giving Apple a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases. The Android app has also been updated to avoid paying Google any fees, but in-app purchases are still allowed thanks to Google’s less-draconian policies.

Microsoft’s Cortana Hates Children

Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri Microsoft Announces Windows 8.1 Update And Cortana Personal Assistant Microsoft Announces Windows 8.1 Update And Cortana Personal Assistant Windows Phone 8.1 gets a new personal assistant named after the Halo franchise's Cortana and a Windows 8.1 Update with a lot of minor changes to improve the experience for mouse and keyboard users. Read More , is not able to communicate with children under 13 years of age. This, according to a posting on a Microsoft forum, is due to “Cortana’s highly personalized approach” and Microsoft’s “efforts to comply with COPPA [Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act].” Parents looking to buy a Windows Phone handset for their offspring should bear this in mind.

Codecademy Gets A Makeover

Codecademy, the popular learn-to-program platform, has undergone a complete makeover Learning To Code Becomes More Fun As Codecademy Reveals New Design Learning To Code Becomes More Fun As Codecademy Reveals New Design Codecademy just pressed enter on a complete makeover. If you are learning how to code, the new layout of the popular website and the extra features could make programming more fun. Read More . The new layout is clean, minimalistic, and responsive, but the changes are more than just skin-deep, with new ways of learning and building portfolios also included.

Atari’s E.T. Game Unearthed In Desert

And finally, the urban legend that Atari dumped millions of copies of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 in a desert in Alamogordo, New Mexico, has just been proved to be true thanks to documentary-makers funded by Microsoft Mac Pro Sale, Hacking Target, Porn Filters Include Sex Ed, Google Tips [Tech News Digest] Mac Pro Sale, Hacking Target, Porn Filters Include Sex Ed, Google Tips [Tech News Digest] Mac Pro 2013 is here, Target becomes a target, Yahoo brings tabs back, Google launches tips service, porn filters in the U.K. not working, and Microsoft seeks E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. No, really. Read More .

The story goes that Atari dumped the unsold stock in 1983 as it was on the verge of going bust. Copies of the game, which was almost unplayable thanks to being made quickly to tie in with the movie, have been dug up as part of a documentary looking at the history of video games. And they’ll probably soon turn up on eBay.

Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.

Image Credit: Jorgen Kesseler via Flickr

  1. KT
    April 29, 2014 at 2:42 am

    Great article!

    1. I.E. has always and will always suck.
    2. The U.S. has always dabbled in false information networks, glad to see more people are paying attention now.
    3. Glad to see I'm not the only one that hates kids (sarc) but seriously, leave them at home if you're dining at a restaurant that doesn't serve food from a bag.
    4. The Atari E.T. legend lives on!

  2. Steve S
    April 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you Tom. I'm reading about it in 'Security Garden' now.

  3. Steve S
    April 28, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    How about explaining, IN ENGLISH (not Microsoft babble), exactly what the "Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET)" is, and what it does, please.
    Why is it Microsoft can't ever just state things plainly??

    • Tom W
      April 28, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Well, by clicking the link and reading the description, it appears to be a tool that helps to make software less vulnerable to common exploit tactics.

    • Dave P
      April 28, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      What Tom said. Perhaps I should have spent a sentence or two explaining what EMET is, but this column is all about getting the interesting tech news out there. We assume that if a story interests you you'll follow the links for more information.

    • Bruce E
      April 29, 2014 at 3:04 am

      It should also be noted that it is for tweaking settings in Windows and IE to help minimize the attack surface presented on a machine BUT it doesn't help XP users at all since almost all of the settings it can adjust do not exist in XP. It was also developed to be used by IT pros and it not easy for inexperienced users to take advantage of.

  4. dragonmouth
    April 28, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    "Internet Explorer users are advised to................., at the very least, download the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) "
    A very apropos name for the software - an emetic for the O/S (and maybe for the user) :P

    • Dave P
      April 28, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      You gotta love Microsoft and their complete idiocy when it comes to naming stuff!

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