NSA Porn, CyanogenMod Ban, Jolla Smartphone, Microsoft Sexism [Tech News Digest]

Today in Tech News Digest, the NSA watches porn, Bitcoin is now valued at $1,000, Google Street View comes to airports and train stations, the CyanagenMod Installer is banned from Google Play, F-Secure KEY is launched to help you manage your passwords, the new Jolla smartphone arrives, Twitter ups its level of security, and Microsoft is accused of being sexist when it comes to the Xbox One.

The NSA Watches Porn

The NSA has tracked which pornographic websites certain targets have been visiting, as a means of harming the target’s reputation. According to the Huffington Post, which published a document it claims is a top-secret NSA brief, the National Security Agency proposed to discredit specific individuals by revealing their online porn habits, as well as fraudulently claiming expenses, charging for speaking engagements, and using contradictory language in public.

The document focuses on six Muslims the NSA describes as “prominent, globally resonating foreign radicalisers” that have “vulnerabilities that can be exploited.” The vulnerabilities, including the viewing of pornographic images online, could be used to undermine these targets. None of the targets is thought to be directly involved in terrorist activities, but the NSA believes them all to be capable of radicalizing others in some way.

This is, of course, just the latest in a long line of revelations about the level of spying and surveillance being carried out against individuals, by the NSA and other governmental organizations. While on this occasion the level of snooping was aimed directly at particular people, Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, suggested that, “It’s important to remember that the NSA’s surveillance activities are anything but narrowly focused — the agency is collecting massive amounts of sensitive information about virtually everyone.

Bitcoin Hits $1,000

Just one week after Bitcoin enjoyed a big news day, in part for hitting a new record high value of $600, the price has skyrocketed to over $1,000. The trading value of Bitcoin rose an incredible 62 percent in one week, and in the two months since the FBI shut down the Silk Road, its value has increased almost tenfold from $110 to $1,000. This may be great news for those who have invested in Bitcoin, but it also reveals the highly unstable nature of the virtual currency.

Google Street View For Airports

street view transit map   NSA Porn, CyanogenMod Ban, Jolla Smartphone, Microsoft Sexism [Tech News Digest]

Not content with merely showing street-level views of cities around the world, now including Venice, Google has added several transit locations to Street View. Initially there are 16 international airports, and 50 train or subway stations, but many more are likely to be added in the future. Which all goes to helping travellers acquaint themselves with their surroundings before they even leave home.

Google Bans CyanogenMod Installer

The CyanogenMod Installer app released on Nov. 12 has been pulled from Google Play at the request of Google. The CyanogenMod Installer app offers a one-click installation of CyanogenMod, which is a customized, open source distro for Android devices. Google has yet to comment on why the app was removed, but CyanogenMod has submitted the app to the Samsung and Amazon app stores for approval. Meanwhile, the Android distro can be sideloaded instead, though doing so isn’t recommended for n00bs.

F-Secure KEY For Passwords

Security firm F-Secure has released a new, free, cross-platform password manager called F-Secure KEY. This Lastpass competitor lets you generate and manage passwords across all of your devices (Mac, Windows, Android and iOS), as long as the app is installed on each one. All of your passwords are protected behind one universal password, so it’s crucial not to forget that one under any circumstances.

Jolla Smartphone Arrives

jolla smartphone   NSA Porn, CyanogenMod Ban, Jolla Smartphone, Microsoft Sexism [Tech News Digest]

A brand new smartphone has been released, and it’s not running either iOS, Android, or Windows Phone. Instead, the Jolla smartphone, created by a group of ex-Nokia engineers, runs on the Sailfish OS, which is based on the MeeGo platform Nokia and Intel developed several years ago.

Currently only available to buy in Finland, the Jolla handset is likely to be made available in other countries in the near-future. Which will be music to the ears of those bored of the two-and-a-half options (the half being Windows Phone, with BlackBerry not even getting that recognition) available at the moment.

Twitter Enables Perfect Forward Security

twitter security1   NSA Porn, CyanogenMod Ban, Jolla Smartphone, Microsoft Sexism [Tech News Digest]

Twitter has introduced a new layer of protection to your private communications, with its ‘perfect forward security’ going beyond Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). With ‘perfect forward security’, every single Twitter session is assigned its own security key, meaning prior sessions remain protected even if an organization such as the NSA (see above) snoops on an individual session. Not the most exciting news of the day, perhaps, but important nonetheless.

Microsoft Is Sexist, Possibly

And finally, Microsoft has been accused of sexism for releasing a form letter playing on gender stereotypes. The letter is designed to help one half of a couple to persuade the other half to buy an Xbox One. The problem is the defaults used made it very clear this was aimed at men looking to persuade their significant others to buy the new games console.

Not only are the defaults potentially sexist, they also exclude people in same-sex relationships. After the complaints rolled in, Microsoft subtly changed the wording of some of the lines, and now it looks as though the letter has disappeared altogether from Xbox.com. Thankfully, TechCrunch has the unedited version saved for us all to enjoy.

Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks

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6 Comments -

1 votes

Kendler

NSA surveillance can be avoided if you have the proper Internet knowledge. I have created an eBook which teaches the users how to protect themselves from the NSA surveillance. You can check the eBook page here http://www.gofundme.com/yeswescan

0 votes

Kevin M

Its a nice thought but like music and movie companies that think DRM is protecting them, any idea that you are truly anonymous on the web regardless of the technology or settings is ignorant! The only way you could possibly browse the web without pricks like the NSA watching you is to stay off the internet!

It is a proven fact that software cannot be protected and likewise most hardware has a backdoor that can be hacked if you are smart enough. The NSA has the peoples money and therefor the power to spy on them at will and nothing we do can stop them. No laws, no hardware and no software can prevent this, only abstinence from using it!

0 votes

dragonmouth

The TechCrunch article is Political Correctness run wild. It is making a mountain out of a mole hill.

0 votes

Dave P

It does go a lot further than I would. I mean, it was ill-judged, sure, but that article ramped up the sexism angle for pageviews.

0 votes

Kannon Y

I love this column, Dave. It’s some of the most shocking and titillating tech news on the Internet.

What I find particularly discouraging about the NSA porn leak is that there were six “exemplars” of individuals who could be blackmailed used their browsing history. One of whom is an American.

It’s implied that there are many others whom the NSA has gathered files on. This feels like something a totalitarian, Stalinist dictatorship would be doing. Not the US. These leaks are becoming increasingly unreal.

0 votes

Dave P

Thanks for the kind words, Kannon :)

I agree, these leaks are getting more shocking by the day. I mean, we all knew we were being watched, but I don’t think many people thought it was quite as bad as it’s proving to be.