Tag Archives: Google


A creative agency team, called This Place, has released an app for Google Glass, the head-worn mobile device released in the UK by Google a month ago, that lets users control the device using their mind. The app is called MindRDR, and is available for free online and sounds like the answer to all of the existing problems surrounding Google Glass – namely the methods of communicating with it – talking to your head to make it work can be unacceptable in quite a lot of circumstances. However, this does not solve the main issue with Google Glass, which is that you look a little weird whilst wearing it– this really does not help on that problem. Instead, the app uses an additional headband called the Neurosky EEG Biosensor to detect concentration levels in the brain, and then uses this to perform tasks on screen.

However, there are a couple of downsides to this method of detecting your brain waves. The first is that you have to wear even more plastic around your head, which means that you couldn’t really use it in the real world unless you have no worries about fashion (or if you never need to wear a hat). The second downside is that, in addition to the £1000 that Google Glass will cost you; the EEG Biosensor will cost £71. This means that this is only really available to people with plenty of cash who don’t care what they look like. This has suddenly and quite dramatically reduced the number of people that this would appeal to.

So far this has very limited uses and can only really be used as a method of taking pictures and then posting them to a social networking site if you want to. Other uses have been tried, but a lack of precision meant that other apps, such as games, were very hard to control resulting in massive frustration in players.

This method of controlling devices does have massive potential, as it could quite easily be used to give people with physical disabilities the same kind of control over smartphones and computers that physically able people take for granted. The system would require quite significant fine tuning before this would work though, as it would only be useful as a solution if it worked properly and could do more than just take photos.

Heartbleed may decrease internet speeds

As the Heartbleed flaw in the OpenSSL security software spreads to cause more problems, one of the issues highlighted is the possible decrease in internet speeds. This possible drop in speed will most likely be caused by the number of sites refreshing their security certificates as part of everyday interactions on the internet.

Whenever one computer talks to another on the internet, e.g. a home PC or laptop connecting to a webserver hosting a website, security certificates are exchanged so that the two machines can be sure of eachother’s identity. In short, because of the flaws in OpenSSL exposed by the Heartbleed bug, there are many more certificates being exchanged during these interactions, which causes the authentication process to take longer.

The estimated number of affected sites is thought to be around 500,000, and includes big names such as Google, Facebook and Dropbox, sites used everyday by hundreds of millions. However, these bigger sites are thought to have patched the security flaws in OpenSSL, which will prevent cyber-criminals from attacking web servers.

The updating of security certificates ties in with OpenSSL, as it guarantees a site’s identity. OpenSSL simply transports sensitive data to a destination in a secure fashion, but once at the destination the two points communicate with each other in order to verify the identity of one another. If one machine can’t prove it’s secure, the information will not be delivered. This is the same principle as how your email client blocks an email address if you mark it as spam.

The Heartbleed bug virtually rendered OpenSSL (SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer) insecure, as criminals could get their hands on the security keys of websites which used the software. Once stolen, criminals could then use the key to impersonate another legitimate website, in order to gain information illegally.

The fact that big companies like Google or Facebook were affected does not mean that these corporations don’t take security seriously, it just highlights how common the use of OpenSSL is on the internet. This in turn highlights how quickly a virus or another security scare can spread across the internet if such a flaw is identified.

Some are now calling for these big companies, and governments, who use the OpenSSL software to a huge extent, to contribute to its maintenance and future research. Currently, annual donations to the OpenSSL foundation amount to $2,000, a mere pittance to somebody like Google or Facebook.

Microsoft Windows 8.1: Rumoured Price Drop.

Following on from the announcement last month of a release date for Windows 9, which will come as welcome news to pretty much everybody in the world (we blogged about here), Microsoft are rumoured to be reducing the costs for Windows 8.1, as an added incentive to increase uptake of the software giant’s most recent flagship OS.

Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft are prepared to reduce the cost to OEMs by up to 70% in a bid to counter the growing popularity of alternative OSs on platforms like of Googles cheaper Cromebook.

Targeting the low cost PC and tablet market, currently Microsoft charges OEMs $50.00 per device that retails for under $250, this means the price will reduce to just $15.00.

Microsoft is hoping this new incentive will also help out its floundering (but resugrent, if you believe the analysts) tablet market share, which is worth a total of $80 Billion table. This is after posting its worst annual decline on record last quarter. With global computer shipments falling and with a continued decline predicted, and the ever increasing popularity of tablets, Microsoft has to act fast to try and attract users away from Apple and Google products, who already have a huge head start on Microsoft.

This is no easy task, as Apple and Google Chrome Operating Systems currently account for 95% of the tablet and smart phone market. However, if Windows 8.1 builds some momentum on the backup of this price drop, that could change.

NHS Website Sent Users to Malware Site

The NHS is at the centre of another controversy as their website has been redirecting thousands of people to pages that contained malware or advertising.

The problem was first experienced during the weekend where users inevitably took to social media sites to express their anger and views about the situation.

A user, who goes by the name Muzzers on Reddit, stated that he came across the problem when searching for flu shot information.

Muzzers stated, So while attempting to access flu shot information I stumbled upon a page which redirected me to an advertisement. Digging a bit deeper I found hundreds more pages which redirect to either an advertisement or malware infested page.

In total, it is believed that the problem affected over 800 pages but the site administrators have been keen to stress that the problem wasnt caused by hackers but by a typo by a developer.

A spokeswoman for the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) which runs the NHS website told the Guardian, Last year, a developer accidentally put “translate.googleaspis.com” rather than “translate.googleapis.com” as the source for the JavaScript file. Last night someone in the Czech Republic took ownership of the incorrectly spelt domain it was referring to; the correctly spelled one is actually owned by Google. Although the typo existed in NHS Choices code, until the point the domain name was purchased, this was not causing any issues.

The vast majority if not all of the affected links have now been corrected but it remains unclear just what impact this has had as there is the potential threat that personal data has been compromised.

Internet security expert Graham Cluey finds the explanation baffling and if it is true, then anybody who inadvertently downloaded the malware could be at risk.

Cluey stated, I’m surprised by that explanation… what often happens is that a hacker will find a weak point and inject a piece of code to exploit it and set up a domain name. Otherwise whoever registered the domain name in the Czech Republic must have scanned the code, which few do, or registered numerous websites in the hope of getting lucky.

A spokeswoman for the HSCIC claimed that they will ensure that no reoccurrence of this will ever happen again.

She stated, NHS Choices is treating this issue with urgency and once resolved we plan to undertake a thorough and detailed analysis to ensure that a full code review is undertaken and steps put in place to ensure no reoccurrence.

It todays world, it is now imperative that all data is protected by a robust backup solution to ensure that it can be recovered. Users need to also ensure that they protect their machines by ensuring that they have the latest security updates installed and working properly.

South Korea Fine Google after Illegal Data Gathering

South Korean regulators have fined Google for illegally gathering personal data whilst taking pictures for its Street View service in 2009 and 2010.

The Korean Communications Commission (KCC) held a meeting a decided to impose a fine of 210million won ($196.000). The KCC have also ordered Google to delete all data that was collected illegally and to keep everyone notified of progress through their website.

According to the KCC, the data that was illegally collected consisted of internet IDs, passwords, network addresses, text messages, and credit card numbers.

Google has already admitted that they obtained the personal data from home wireless networks when the Street View car drove past but claimed that they were merely trying to ascertain the location of Wi-Fi networks to build up a list of assisted location services for mobile users.

The KCC are keen to send out a message that anyone who is caught collecting data unlawfully in South Korea will be punished how they deem appropriate.

Lee Kyung-jae who is the chairman of the KCC stated, The latest penalty is the first of its kind imposed on a global company that violated the private information protection laws. The commission will punish those who collect information of the Korean public without exception.

South Korea isn’t the first nation to impose a fine on Google after they have gathered data illegally whilst taking pictures for its Street View service.

Previous cases against Google include the German privacy regulator imposing a 145,000 ($189,000) fine and the French data protection authority enforcing a 100,000 ($142,000) fine for the same reasons. Google was also fined $7 million by the U.S. authorities in March 2013.

In todays world, it is now vital that all networks and computers are kept as secure as possible by ensuring everything has the latest security program updates applied and is protected by a strong password.

The ease that Google accumulated all this personal data should be of a huge concern especially as cyber hackers and cyber thieves are continuously developing more sophisticated methods of attacks.

It is also vital that a robust backup solution is utilised to ensure that data can be recovered if it is deleted or modified.

Technology Firms Demand Change in Surveillance Reform

Some of the leading technology firms in the USA have come together and formed an alliance called Reform Government Surveillance group.

The group consists of eight companies, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Yahoo with their main aim to persuade the US government to drastically change its surveillance programmes.

The group has been formed after Edward Snowden who is an ex US intelligence contractor revealed the extent of the surveillance that is carried out by the US government. Such surveillance methods involved tapping fibre-optic cables, collecting phone records and hacking networks.

In an open letter to Washington which can be found on their website, the group stated, We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summers revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. Its time for a change.

Members of the group believe that the level of surveillance that is going on has got out of hand and needs to be controlled.

Mark Zuckerberg who is the chief executive of Facebook stated, Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information. The US government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.

Since Snowden revealed the extent of the surveillance methods, the Reform Government Surveillance group is campaigning to have the permission to publish details of data requests. At the moment, some companies such as Apple and Google have revealed that they have had requests from the US authorities to hand data over but they are unable to detail just how much user data has been handed over to the authorities.

The Reform Government Surveillance group stated, Transparency is essential to a debate over governments’ surveillance powers and the scope of programs that are administered under those powers. Governments should allow companies to publish the number and nature of government demands for user information. In addition, governments should also promptly disclose this data publicly,

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