Around the IT Industry 10/7-10/11

by Modis on October 11, 2013

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NSA Saves Certain Exploits for High-Value Targets

The National Security Agency has a variety of software exploits it can use to attack the targets it wants to monitor. Most of the time, these attacks are done under near complete secrecy, but the NSA’s pursuit of a large surveillance program somewhat defeats the purpose.

Publication of secret NSA documents shows the NSA operates servers under the codename FoxAcid that exploit various software vulnerabilities on the target’s computer. By the time the attacks are sent, analysts know a great deal about the person receiving them. Using that information, the NSA uses a complex system to automatically choose an attack from a menu of options. High value attacks may run a zero-day exploit that it has either developed or purchased.

Disney Develops Textured Touchscreen

Disney’s known for a lot of things in history—the first multiplane camera, the first animated feature-length film—but its work on the flat touch-screen that lets you feel the shape and texture of what’s on the screen, may be the best invention yet.

The technology known as “tactile rendering of 3D features” is in the early stages of development, with an early algorithm already developed by Disney Research in Pittsburgh. The idea is that by using small electronic pulses, your brain is tricked into feeling bumps and texture, even though the surface is flat. The technology aims to make users feel as if they were actually there, to enhance the overall user experience.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013

This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to: Martin Karplus from Université de Strasbourg, France and Harvard University, Michael Levitt from the Stanford University School of Medicine, and Arieh Warshel from the University of Southern California at Los Angeles. The Royal Swedish Academy of Science chose these three to receive the award “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.”

Rather than using tangible objects such as balls and sticks to create models of molecules, modeling is done with computers. In the 1970s, these three gentlemen laid the groundwork for powerful software that understands and predicts chemical processes. These computer models are crucial to most of the advances made in Chemistry today.

Rooting and Flashing Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Causes Hardware Damage

In an effort to curtail customers removing the official firmware and installing their own, Samsung is using technology to determine if the device has been tampered with. Using KNOX code, once a device is rooted, the device is set to custom, and a counter starts.  By combining it with eFUSE technology, Chainfire apps can no longer reset that counter to zero. This method causes the KNOX code to be re-written, which constitutes hardware damage. Samsung Service Centers will check the KNOX status of the device. If tripped, all warranty becomes void.

While this is a major blow to the development community seeking to get more out of the Note 3, sooner or later a developer will figure out a way to get past the KNOX issue. For now, stick with the default firmware.

Microsoft Says Remote Desktop is Coming to iOS and Android

Microsoft has let it slip that its Remote Desktop App will come to Windows, Windows RT, OS X, iOS, and Android later this month, with the launch of Windows Server 2012 R2. It will be the first time a remote desktop software application makes it to rival mobile platforms, and could affect how well other apps in the same space perform in the marketplace.

Though we’re not sure when the app will make its debut in the respective app marketplaces, we do know the iOS version will support both iOS 6 and iOS 7, and the Android version will support all operating systems from Gingerbread up. It may also be made available on the Windows Phone 8.

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