Tech News

NSA Exploits Internet, IRS Retains XP, Google Glass Haters, iPad Concept [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 14-04-2014

Today in Tech News Digest, exploiting the Internet, retaining Windows XP, Googling government waste, Glassing San Francisco, Real-time Twitter, trending subreddits, and an iPad concept circa 2004.


The NSA Can Exploit Internet Flaws

The NSA is retaining the right to exploit flaws in Internet security without passing on details of them to the general public. This is the takeaway from an examination of the rules governing NSA behavior under President Obama.

This all began with the Heartbleed vulnerability recently discovered in OpenSSL Massive Bug in OpenSSL Puts Much of Internet At Risk If you're one of those people who've always believed that open source cryptography is the most secure way to communicate online, you're in for a bit of a surprise. Read More . Bloomberg claims the NSA has known about the flaw for “at least two years” and “regularly used it to gather critical intelligence.” Unfortunately, the only sourcing was “two people familiar with the matter.

The NSA vehemently denies the accusation, though The Guardian has since seen fit to remind us all that regardless of when the NSA learned about Heartbleed, the agency can still use it to unlock previously encrypted data it may have stored.

The upshot of all this is that, according to The New York Times, Obama decided in January that most major flaws in Internet security should be shared, rather than exploited, by the NSA.

However, a broad loophole which bypasses this rule when “a clear national security or law enforcement need” arises means that if something similar to Heartbleed was discovered in the future, the NSA wouldn’t necessarily share it with the rest of us. Which is rather disheartening to hear.


Those of you concerned about Heartbleed should read our guide detailing what you can do to stay safe Heartbleed – What Can You Do To Stay Safe? Read More in spite of the Internet effectively being broken, albeit temporarily.

The IRS Is Still Using Windows XP

As everyone and their grandparents know by now, Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8 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 . Unfortunately, in addition to the millions of ordinary people deciding to carry on using it, some rather important government departments are persevering.

Those still using XP include the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), which collects taxes in the United States. Despite knowing about the deadline since 2008, the IRS has only managed to upgrade 47 percent of its computers to Windows 7, with the other 53 percent stuck using XP.

Not to worry, as the IRS is paying Microsoft for ‘Custom Support’, which sees Redmond patching critical vulnerabilities beyond the end of official support. Computerworld suggests this will cost the IRS around $11.6 million for one year. Isn’t it nice to see your tax dollars being put to such good use?


Let Me Google That For You, Senator

Perhaps proving that not all politicians are humorless automatons, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is sponsoring “a bill to eliminate an outdated agency that has lost more than $1 million trying to sell government reports that are available for free online.” The name of the bill? The ‘Let Me Google That For You‘ act.

The bill argues that the National Technology Information Service (NTIS) charges huge amounts of money for government reports, most of which are available for free online. So why not stop frittering money away when anyone can just use Google 8 Google Search Tips To Keep Handy At All Times Figures don't lie, and the figures suggest that the majority of Internet users choose Google over the rest of the competition. With that in mind it's important to make sure all of those Google users... Read More instead? It’s a fair point.

San Francisco Hates Google Glass Explorers

If you ever visit San Francisco then you may want to remove your Google Glass specs before doing so. This is the lesson learned from the experience of Kyle Russell, a Business Insider employee who had his Google Glass ripped off his face and destroyed.

This is the latest example of the ordinary residents of San Francisco fighting back against what they consider the gentrification of the area by Silicon Valley companies. Russell is understanding over the motivation behind the attack, but that doesn’t make the incident any more palatable.


Twitter Introduces Real-Time Notifications

Twitter has introduced real-time notifications to its Web interface. Once the update has hit your account, you will receive notifications every time someone replies, favorites or retweets one of your tweets, and when you add a new follower or receive a direct message. The change is designed to improve engagement levels.

Reddit Promoting Trending Subreddits

Reddit has added an ever-changing roster of trending subreddits to its homepage. This small update could have a profound impact on the smaller communities that exist on Reddit 5 Ways To Find The Best Obscure Subreddits On Reddit Since its surge in popularity in 2006, Reddit has truly become the epicenter of social news and information. We're in an age where the newspaper is gradually inching towards extinction as more and more people... Read More , which could find themselves experiencing a sudden influx of new users and comments. Sensibly, only Safe For Work communities are eligible to be featured.

How The iPad Could Have Looked


And finally, Apple released the iPad in 2010, but there was speculation over such a product for years before that. So much so that in 2004 someone posted the iPad concept you can see above to the MacRumors forum. The name is about the only thing accurately predicted, but it’s still a fascinating look at how quickly technology evolves.


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

Image Credit: FutUndBeidl via Flickr

Explore more about: Google Glass, Reddit, Twitter, Windows XP.

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  1. brett stark
    May 9, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Stop bickering .. tell Google to include a replacement warranty. should cover any acts of god and trips to Francisco and addendum to their car insurance
    in that likely event they forget their operating a machine that can destroy themselves and others should it not be controlled with COMMON SENSE.

    yet it might be good to have that as a extended warranty that can be deducted from our taxes in the case they work for the IRS. this way it covers any line dancing event in Francisco area .. enjoy

  2. Stephen H
    April 21, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    With the current government policies, The IRS could just levy 12mil in additional tax... I MEAN fines against Microsoft for not complying with the universal XP care act that No one read and was forced down America's throat regardless of everyone being against it...

  3. David B
    April 15, 2014 at 10:38 am

    11.6 million to support Windows XP for the IRS? It's barely a drop in the bucket, truth be told. A migration strategy could easily cost more (in tech and software costs, and lost productivity). For national agencies like the IRS, they probably easily burn through a million dollars a DAY on operating expenses. But yeah, spending money to stay on XP is dumb as heck. It's probably just a stopgap measure while they form a real migration strategy.

    • Dave P
      April 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      It is just a stopgap, and that's the problem. The IRS is still going to have to pay millions to upgrade to newer hardware and software, so this $11.6 million is an added cost. How was seven years notice not enough to switch?!

  4. Kevin
    April 14, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    If you wear google glasses in public , you now work for the NSA. Unpaid , of course.

    When it was just your private toy , no one cared. So some guy recorded you walking down the street , maybe showed it to a friend , maybe didn't , and then deleted it later because it took too much space up. Big deal.

    But now NSA / Goggle / USGov keeps that info forever. Mixes it up with everythign else they know of you, and it's like there's an under cover detective following you around, everywhere , spying on everything you say and do , and trying to find the most harmful way to use that information.

    You are doing people harm by wandering around with google glasses. No wonder they're ticked at you. It's not a private toy. You're a volinteer toy soldier spy for NSA / Google , and thats what happens when you start harming people.

    • Dave P
      April 20, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      You really believe that wearing Google Glass means you're somehow aiding and abetting surveillance on ordinary citizens? That's a pretty serious accusation to level at Google.

  5. steve
    April 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Ummm there's nothing "ordinary" about people who rip people's glasses off, or steal their stuff from them. Calling that behavior "ordinary" defends it.

    • Dave P
      April 20, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      I wasn't defending these actions at all. By ordinary, I meant residents who don't belong to the Silicon Valley elite.

  6. dragonmouth
    April 14, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    "The NSA Can Exploit Internet Flaws"
    No s**t, Sherlock!

    • Dave P
      April 20, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      Thanks for your input, my dear Watson.

  7. jkendal
    April 14, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    The people of San Francisco overwhelmingly vote for a politician who has said publicly that she has no problem with the NSA reading our emails and text messages and listening to our phone conversations, but they show outrage at single individuals wearing Google Glass?? Talk about stupid.....

    • dragonmouth
      April 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      "they show outrage at single individuals wearing Google Glass??"
      I would, too. And about the idiots that text & drive or phone & drive, or do anything while driving. I don't want MY life and the lives of innocent bystanders to be put in jeopardy by thoughtless a**holes!

    • Dave P
      April 20, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      I agree, attacking an individual is beyond stupid. It achieves nothing. I'm aghast at the level of texting while driving that goes on, but I don't pull every driver from their car and beat them mercilessly with their smartphones!