Linux Mint Website Hacked, Apple Calls For Commission to Settle Debate… [Tech News Digest]

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Linux Mint website hacked, Apple calls for a Government commission, Snapchat’s new temporary custom geofilters, Facebook’s video birthday wishes, and meta-lego building.

Linux Mint Website Hacked

Hackers have attacked the Linux Mint site, leaving hundreds of Linux users with rogue versions of the operating system. On February 20, 2016 it’s believed the hackers gained access to the underlying server through the Linux Mint WordPress blog and then got shell access to www-data.

From there, they changed the download page to point to a new FTP server in Bulgaria. New Linux ISO images bundled the complete OS with the backdoor ELF trojan Tsunami, so the hackers could then gain access to the system via IRC servers.

In an announcement on the Linux Mint Blog, the head of Linux Mint project Clement Lefebvre explained how this all came about. He also explains how to check if your ISO was compromised, and reassures us that as far as he knows, the only compromised version was the Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon edition made available on the site while it was hacked.

“Hackers made a modified Linux Mint ISO, with a backdoor in it, and managed to hack our website to point to it,” — Clement Lefebvre.

The site itself is currently offline while the team try to determine exactly what happened, and users are asked to reset their forum passwords.

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Apple Calls For Commission to Settle Debate

Following the FBI’s request for Apple to hand over user data, Apple now wants a Government commission or panel of intelligence and civil liberties experts to discuss the implications of this request on privacy and personal freedom.

FBI director James Comey says, “We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land”. However, Apple says to comply with the request would involve developing “an entirely new operating system to undermine our security features as the government wants”. This would make all iOS devices vulnerable to attacks and future government surveillance.

“This case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation, so when we received the government’s order we knew we had to speak out. At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties.” — Tim Cook.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is siding with Apple on this debate, saying “We’re sympathetic with Apple on this one. We believe in encryption. I expect it’s not the right thing to try to block that from the mainstream products people want to use. And I think it’s not going to be the right regulatory or economic policy to put in place.”

Meanwhile, Bill Gates thinks Apple should comply, saying “This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case”.

Read the full memo from Apple CEO Tim Cook, obtained by BuzzFeed.

Snapchat Now Has Temporary Custom Geofilters

If you’re hosting a big party and want to make things a little more interesting, you can now buy your own custom Snapchat filter. Starting at $5, you can get an on-demand custom filter for anything from one hour to thirty days, in a region between 20,000 feet and 5,000,000 feet. You need to design the filter yourself then have it approved by Snapchat, and the fee merely covers the cost of making it available.

These filters will be used for local events, conferences, weddings, high school parties, and any other big life events. The on-demand filters are only available in the US, UK and Canada for now.

Facebook Wants You To Send Video Birthday Wishes

You’ve probably noticed that Facebook birthday wishes could be a little more, uh, original. Seeing a wall plastered with “Happy birthday Person-I-Hardly-See” (or worse still “HBD”) on your birthday is probably going to fill you with a sincere sense of… “Meh.”

And that’s why Facebook have decided to step things up a little with a suggestion that you make a 15-second birthday video for your friends.

It’s a feature that’s only available on iOS for the moment, but Facebook’s creative manager Henry Soong says it will be released on Android soon. It’s sure to hit the web app in short time, too.

“We wanted to find a new way for close friends to post something fun and as quickly as possible” — Henry Soong

The app appears on your friend’s timeline when it’s their birthday, prompting you to make a more unique birthday greeting while you’re there. It’s a simple tap to record, with the option of adding a birthday frame to the video. Now your HBD updates can be much less boring.

Watch Meta-Lego Building

And finally, check out this awesome stop-motion of meta-lego, where legos are playing with lego. It’s like the creator Reto Hochstrasser has brought Emmet Brickowoski’s world to life with lego animation. Everything is awesome about this clip.

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Image Credit: GhostCero via Flickr

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