Tech News

Microsoft Supports Killing Passwords, Are You Being Spied On? [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 17-02-2015

Microsoft hates passwords, spies come clean, AT&T carries BlackBerry, the Dotcom MegaNet, Rock Band reboot rumors, and Cortana makes a good girlfriend.


Windows 10 Will Support FIDO

Passwords Dissecting the 25 Worst Passwords in the World [Weird & Wonderful Web] There are many simple ways to create easy to remember, but difficult to break passwords. But not everyone gets it. As this list of the weakest passwords prove, it is a large tribe. Read More may soon be a thing of the past, and Microsoft is one company supporting such a change. To prove its commitment to the cause, Microsoft has announced that the forthcoming Windows 10 will support the next version of the Fast IDentification Online (FIDO) standard.

FIDO aims “to address the lack of interoperability among strong authentication devices as well as the problems users face with creating and remembering multiple usernames and passwords.” In order to do this the alliance “plans to change the nature of authentication by developing specifications that define an open, scalable, interoperable set of mechanisms that supplant reliance on passwords to securely authenticate users of online services.

In layman’s terms this means replacing passwords with biometrics Why Usernames & Passwords Are A Thing Of The Past, And How To Cope With This With every other hacked database and credit card scandal that occurs, it becomes more evident that we can't rely on passwords for much longer. But if not passwords, what else is there? Read More and USB dongles. While announcing its support for FIDO, the company stated that moving beyond the password is “one of the top priorities for us here at Microsoft.” Google and PayPal are two of the other major tech companies supporting FIDO.

Did GCHQ Illegally Spy on You?

You can now discover whether Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British intelligence agency, or the National Security Agency (NSA), its U.S. equivalent, has ever illegally spied on you. This is thanks to a campaign by Privacy International (PI).

Human rights watchdog PI is asking people, from anywhere in the world, to submit a form containing their basic personal details. All submitted forms will then be collated into one file submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) with the request that all records on the individuals involved are deleted.


The specific intelligence-gathering in question is information collected by the NSA Your Interest in Privacy Will Ensure You're Targeted by the NSA Yes, that's right. If you care about privacy, you may be added to a list. Read More and shared with GCHQ, an action recently judged to be illegal in a UK court ruling. Unfortunately, the requests could take years to be resolved, and getting involved means voluntarily handing your personal details to GCHQ. Still, it’s unquestionably a positive initiative.

BlackBerry Passport Lands on AT&T

The two most recent BlackBerry devices, the Passport and the Classic, are coming to AT&T starting Feb. 20. This is the first time these handsets have been available to buy from a carrier, previously having only been available either from Amazon or BlackBerry itself.

The BlackBerry Passport BlackBerry Passport Reviews, iOS 8.0.1 Update Bricks iPhones, And More... [Tech News Digest] Also, Amazon Wishlist, Chrome's endless runner, Sunset Overdrive trailer, and testing the bendiness of smartphones. Read More will cost $649.99 on its own or $199.99 with a contract, while the Classic will cost $419.99 or $49.99. The Passport will be an AT&T exclusive, while the Classic will be coming to other carriers in the not-too-distant future.

Kim Dotcom Teases His MegaNet

Kim Dotcom has been making vague promises on Twitter of launching his own version of the Internet. Called MegaNet (what else!), this would be a non-IP-based, decentralized network based on the blockchain as used by Bitcoin.


Dotcom promises that his Utopian MegaNet couldn’t be “controlled, censored or destroyed by Governments of Corporations.” It would also mean “no more spying [and] no more DDoS or hacking.” Which all sounds fantastic, but we’ll believe it when we actually see it.

Is a Rock Band Relaunch Imminent?

There is increasing speculation that Harmonix is preparing to reboot Rock Band, a series which has been dead since 2012. After a break of almost two years, some new songs were released in January. And two more have been added this week.

The two songs are Rize of the Fenix by Tenacious D and Back to the Shack by Weezer. Both of which are about making a triumphant return. Hence the assumption this could be a precursor to an announcement of a new title being developed for the next-gen consoles. We can but hope.

Trading Siri in for Cortana

And finally, while Valentine’s Day 5 DIY Gifts You Should Make for Your Geek This Valentine's Day Presents you make yourself are a thousand times more meaningful than some store-bought rubbish. So here are 5 awesomely geeky projects to have a go at - even if you're not so talented at crafting. Read More has been and gone, Microsoft’s latest ad for Cortana still makes sense. It shows a guy who breaks off a relationship to start a new, better, relationship with someone else. Cortana, to be specific.


His ex just happens to be called Siri 8 Things You Probably Didn’t Realize Siri Could Do Siri has become one of the iPhone’s defining features, but for many people, it’s not always the most useful. While some of this is due to the limitations of voice recognition, the oddity of using... Read More , who he dumped for Cortana. Sure, it meant trading in his iPhone for a Windows Phone Why You Should Consider Switching To Windows Phone [Opinion] I want Windows Phone to succeed. The problem is persuading you Apple fanboys and Google droids to give Windows Phone a chance. Read More , but he seems perfectly happy with the choice he made. Let’s just hope his real girlfriend doesn’t get jealous of the new woman in his life How Cortana Became The "Other Woman" In My Life She appeared one day and changed my life. She knows exactly what I need and has a wicked sense of humour. It's little wonder that I've fallen for the charms of Cortana. Read More .

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Would you be happy to see the use of passwords come to an end? Will you be discovering whether or not you have been spied on? Do you think Kim Dotcom’s MegaNet will ever actually exist?

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.

Image Credit: a2gemma via Flickr


Related topics: BlackBerry, Microsoft, Microsoft Cortana, Online Privacy, Windows 10.

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  1. CJ Cotter
    February 21, 2015 at 3:48 am

    Didn't Microsoft ever watch 1960s James Bond and Mission Impossible movies? Even then, fingerprints and eye scans were easily copied. Those movies would take delight in showing the viewer how easily it's done. Biometrics as the new wave of security? I think not.

  2. likefunbutnot
    February 17, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Regarding FIDO, I think biometrics are a MUCH bigger pain in the ass than remembering any number of passwords. Sensors are finicky or else they're too easily fooled. And on the day when the reader is on the fritz, or when your finger has a bandage on it or you need an eyepatch (I wore an eyepatch for four months last year), guess what you'll be back to using?

    • David
      February 17, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      That's impressive. So basically you wore an eyepatch and was still able to work with a computer?

    • Dave Parrack
      February 20, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Hmm, you have a point there. It suggests we'll never actually be rid of password entirely, even if biometrics do become the default.

  3. dragonmouth
    February 17, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    "In layman’s terms this means replacing passwords with biometrics and USB dongles."
    If M$ suggested it, they already have backdoors built into the technology.

    "All submitted forms will then be collated into one file submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT)"
    Oh, boy! I would love to hack into that database. All that personal data submitted willingly and just there for the taking!

    • Dave Parrack
      February 20, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Oh, so cynical!

      You do have a point on the IPT file though. Let's hope that doesn't happen.