Other Tech Headlines for 12/23-12/27

by Modis on December 27, 2013

Snapchat App Security Breach a ‘Simple Fix’ the Company Ignored

The popular picture messaging app Snapchat has been installed on an estimated 10-50 million phones worldwide. Australian hackers have exposed a security breach that leads to the ability to access any user’s phone number, as long as you know their relative geological location. Snapchat names, aliases, and phone numbers can be collected through Snapchat’s Android API even if the user’s account settings are marked as private, and could also lead to bulk registrations and increased spam messages. Australian company Gibson Security first told Snapchat of this vulnerability in August, with no response. The company published their findings on Christmas Day. Snapchat has yet to respond for comment.

Target Hackers Obtain PINs in Addition to Credit Card Numbers

The hackers who attacked Target, obtaining information from over 40 million customer credit and debit cards, also have stolen encrypted personal identification numbers (PINs), according to a senior payments executive. A US bank fears that the hackers would be able to crack the encrypted data and make withdrawals from customer accounts. Target claims that no unencrypted PIN data was accessed, though acknowledges the security breach. Researchers estimate that the hacking could cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Banks have lowered the daily limits that their customers can place on ATM withdrawals and purchases, which lead security experts to believe that PINs have been compromised by the hackers. Banks have not disclosed any other information, but have been issuing new cards to the customers that were affected.

Ubuntu and Android Dual Booting on Handsets

Savvy Android developers can rejoice; Ubuntu is now able to dual boot on a single Android device. This is not recommended for the average Android user, as it requires flashing devices and changing your device partitions. Dual boot rewrites the Android recovery partition, and users that are installing Ubuntu should be familiar with re-flashing their Android in case of an error. Dual boot allows users to easily switch between operating systems, bypassing the complicated command lines and key combinations of the past.

Mozilla Asm.js Javascript Narrows the Gap Against C/C++

Asm, a Mozilla created subset of Javascript, aims to improve Web application performance and extend the web to C/C++ applications. Asm.js continues to narrow the gap between itself and standard C/C++ code. While standard C/C++ code out-preforms Asm.js, the performance gap continues to shrink. Mozilla has implemented Asm.js as its SpiderMonkey and Emscripten JavaScript engine. Mozilla attributes its performance increase to float32 optimization and fewer CPU cycles. Asm.js sub-language is a safe virtual machine for “memory unsafe” languages such as C or C++.

Mars Curiosity Rover gets OS Upgrade

NASA’s space rover Curiosity has been updated to a new operating system for the new year. The upgrade will increase the rover’s movement range, enabling it to use its robotic arm while climbing the slopes of Mars. This also will improve the rover’s capacity for storing information overnight to use in enabling automatic driving on the following day. The first upgrade to version 11 of its operating system for the Curiosity rover was met with difficulties, causing the system to reboot and revert to its 10th version. NASA debugged the software in the previous week, declaring it viable this week. One of the new initiatives for the new operating system will be to take close ups of itself. These self portraits will allow researchers to assess how the rover’s wheels are handling Mars’ rough terrain. These photos will help NASA plan future ventures to Mars and increase the Curiosity’s longevity.

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