UK Plan Bans Whatsapp & Snapchat, ISIS Hacks Military Command [Tech News Digest]
The British Prime Minister goes to war on privacy, ISIS hacks into military command, Google cuts Jelly Bean users loose, 80% of adults own a smartphone, Disney releases BeachBot, and a Choose Your Own Adventure story on Twitter.
David Cameron Hates Privacy
British Prime Minister David Cameron wants to ban apps that ensure user privacy by using end-to-end encryption. He made the pledge to act against this trend in light of the terrorist attacks in Paris which left 17 people dead.
Cameron asked and answered his own question, saying, “Are we going to allow a means of communication which it simply isn’t possible to read? My answer to that question is: ‘No, we must not.’” Actually, most sensible people would answer, “Yes, we must.”
While encrypted services can be used by people plotting harm, they’re used much, MUCH more widely by people who care about privacy and security. Destroying the notion of end-to-end encryption is an absolute non-starter, effectively banning the likes of Whatsapp and Snapchat from operating in the UK.
David Cameron is campaigning ahead of a General Election in the UK in May 2015.
Central Command Suffers Online Hack
We’re back! CENTCOM temporarily suspended its Twitter account after an act of cybervandalism. Read more: http://t.co/hiwvSp3uWt
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) January 13, 2015
The Twitter and YouTube accounts belonging to the United States Central Command (Centcom) have been hacked by a group claiming to have ties to Islamic State (ISIS). While under the hackers’ control, the @Centcom Twitter account tweeted threats to U.S. soldiers as well as links to military documents.
Central Command has now taken back control of its social media accounts. It also released a statement playing down the significance of the hack, stating, “We are viewing this purely as a case of cybervandalism.” The hack occurred as President Barack Obama was giving a speech on cyber-security.
Google Abandons Jelly Bean Users
More details on how Google won’t patch or support WebView in Android 4.3 & earlier. Truly shoddy behavior https://t.co/38XPuuUI2E
— Mary Branscombe (@marypcbuk) January 13, 2015
Google has ended support for WebView on Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and all earlier versions of its mobile operating system. WebView is the default Web browser on Android, and 60 percent of all Android users are currently using a version of Android that’s either Jelly Bean or older.
The news came courtesy of Tod Beardsley, an engineer at security firm Rapid7. He records how Google responded to a report of a new vulnerability in the older version of WebView by saying, “If the affected version [of WebView] is before 4.4, we generally do not develop the patches ourselves, but welcome patches with the report for consideration. Other than notifying OEMs, we will not be able to take action on any report that is affecting versions before 4.4 that are not accompanied with a patch.”
Beardsley states Google’s reasoning for this change of policy is that the company “no longer certify 3rd party devices that include the Android Browser,” and “the best way to ensure that Android devices are secure is to update them to the latest version of Android.” In other words, it’s your fault for not running a newer version of Android, except it isn’t, of course.
80% Of Online Adults Own Smartphones
It has been revealed that 80 percent of all adult Internet users now own a smartphone . The figures come courtesy of GlobalWebIndex, which surveyed 170,000 people across 32 markets to compile its latest report. A total of 47 percent of adults own a tablet and 9 percent own a smartwatch.
Other interesting tidbits of information include wearables being most popular among 25- to 34-year-olds in Asia, Android having well and truly won the war against iOS, and 27 percent of respondents having used a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access the Internet… now please take part in our poll on that very subject.
Disney BeachBot Creates Epic Sand Art
Disney Research has revealed BeachBot, an autonomous robot capable of creating epic examples of sand art. BeachBot, which was designed to look like a turtle scuttling across the beach, digs a rake into the sand to draw large and impressive drawings. The idea is to employ BeachBot at public beaches in order to impress passers-by. And why not.
Choose Your Own Twitter Adventure
You should probably be asleep. I’ve created a “Choose You Own Adventure” on Twitter. Start here ? @wnd_go Pleasant dreams.
— Terence Eden (@edent) January 12, 2015
And finally, you can now embark on a Choose Your Own Adventure-style story using nothing but Twitter. The adventure sees you choosing which path to take, with individual Twitter accounts set up to move the story along to a conclusion. It’s compelling stuff, assuming you don’t end up being devoured as quickly as I did the first time I played. [H/T CNET]
Your Views On Today’s Tech News
What do you personally think of the idea to ban private messaging apps? Should Google continue supporting Android Jelly Bean? How did your Twitter adventure end?
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: Nik Gaffney via Flickr