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Today in Tech News Digest, smart TV flaws, a Popcorn Time VPN, the chatbot that beat Alan Turing, the CIA joins Twitter, the first Vine from space, a Street View of the World Cup, and Microsoft’s vision of the present future.
Possible Smart TV Hack Exposed
A set of flaws in the HbbTV standard (Hybrid broadcast broadband TV) has been discovered that could put the majority of smart television sets at risk of being hijacked. This so-called ‘Red Button attack’ would affect anyone receiving an over-the-air signal within a certain range of the fictional hackers.
Depending on your age and level of technical expertise, this is best described as a ‘man-in-the-middle’ attack or the Max Headroom of smart televisions. The most worrying aspect is that attacks on HbbTV would run undetected in the background, with only a minimal chance of catching the culprits.
Forbes has a rundown of the issue, which has been discovered by Yossi Oren and Angelos Keromytis at the Columbia University Network Security Lab. The HbbTV standard affected is in widespread use across Europe and nearing mass adoption in North America.
Such an attack is seen as unlikely, leading to the HbbTV standards body refusing the opportunity to fix the flaws inherent in HbbTV. And yet with enough motivation and the right equipment hackers could compromise thousands of smart television sets all at once. Which means this decision really isn’t very smart at all.
Popcorn Time Gets A Free VPN Built In
@Time4Popcorn Any plans to automatically play the next episode of a TV show within a season? It’d be a super awesome feature =D
— Nicholas Lansberry (@NJLansberry) June 2, 2014
Time4Popcorn, one of the many Popcorn Time forks available to fans of piracy, has added a built-in VPN to its service. The VPN feature, offered for free by Kebrum, anonymizes your use of Time4Popcorn, with slower streams being the only obvious downside.
The Time4Popcorn team has, according to TorrentFreak, acted to counter the threat posed by copyright trolls. German users of another Popcorn Time fork have already faced fines, and getting caught using the service is a risk in every country in which piracy is considered a crime. Which is, rather unsurprisingly, the vast majority. Because piracy is bad, ‘mmmkay.
Chatbot Passes Turing Test For First Time
A chatbot has passed the Turing Test for the first time ever. That is if you believe the spirit of the Turing Test was retained during this particular event. The University of Reading certainly thinks so, claiming that a computer program named Eugene Goostman beat the decades-old test.
The Turing Test is based on a suggestion by the late Alan Turing (one of many geek gods) that for a machine to be considered as capable of thinking it has to fool people into believing it’s human. Eugene convinced 33 percent of the judges it was human, having adopted the persona of a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy.
You can talk to Eugene yourself using this link, but the press coverage of the event means the site may be slow or even down altogether. Thus proving its inherent lack of humanity.
CIA Joins Twitter With A Joke
We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.
— CIA (@CIA) June 6, 2014
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has joined Twitter, and opened with a joke. The first tweet, embedded above, plays on the usual vague line of non-committal government agencies trot out when asked to comment. The second tweet talks of “sharing great #unclassified content,” which could make @CIA well worth following.
The First Ever Vine From Space
— Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid) June 6, 2014
American astronaut Reid Wiseman is responsible for the first Vine video sent from space. Wiseman is currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and tweeted the short video embedded above showing his view of a full orbit around our home planet. If this doesn’t impress you then I’m not sure even the most creative Vine videos will do so.
Google Street View The 2014 World Cup
Google has prepared for the 2014 World Cup by touring Brazil and capturing the 12 stadiums in glorious 360-degree Street View panoramas. Colorful painted streets celebrating the huge sporting event have also been captured, which should pique the interest of even the most ardent haters of football. And Americans.
Microsoft’s Smart Home From The 1990s
And finally, in the 1990s Microsoft imagined how life would be for us all living in our smart homes in the future. The future which is now the present. If that makes any kind of sense. This video reveals the company’s vision.
Surprisingly, many of the elements Microsoft predicted would be a part of our smart homes actually now exist, though the user interfaces have evolved to be a lot more pleasing on the eye. Thanks mainly to Apple.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.
Image Credit: Schmilblick via Flickr