Tech Headlines for 12/30-1/3

by Modis on January 3, 2014

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NSA Elite Hackers Can Hack Wifi from 8 Miles Away

Those who attended the Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg learned the shocking truth about what the NSA’s elite hackers are capable of. Beyond being able to hack an individual’s Wifi connection from up to eight miles away, the NSA has a number of prepackaged exploits available for any device running on a GSM network, as well as any iOS device. The exploits can be delivered via drone. The brochure used to discuss these capabilities dates back to 2007, and it is thought the NSA’s tactics have greatly advanced since then, and that those techniques are still in use today.

Snapchat Hacked: 4.6 Million Usernames and Phone Numbers Leaked

On December 31, hackers accessed 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers and published them online. Though Snapchat has a number of security measures in place to prevent something like this from happening, the database has been released in a downloadable format online. The database censors the last two digits of phone numbers, but under the right circumstances, the currently anonymous hackers may be willing to turn over the raw information. The website where the database is available says, “The company was too reluctant at patching the exploit until they knew it was too late and companies that we trust with our information should be more careful when dealing with it.”

2013’s Worst IT Disasters

While many tech trends come and go, we never seem to forget tech disasters, and 2013 brought plenty of them. Perhaps the largest one goes to Healthcare.gov, where only about 30% of users were able to get health coverage at the site launch on October 1. By December 1, the website had been stabilized, but work is not yet complete. In February, California terminated its contract with SAP in connection with a massive payroll project called MyCalPAYS. The project, dating back to 2005, had more than $250 million invested. SAP maintains it isn’t responsible for the problems, since they came to the project after California had fired the original contractor. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) continued to have computer issues this year, when a system outage on Cyber Monday prevented customers from getting cash or making payments.

PC Makers Plan to Rebel Against Windows at 2014 CES

In response to a fear the desktop and laptop market will continue to collapse, PC makers are planning to turn against Microsoft Windows as the standard operating system of choice. The market saw a 10% collapse in 2013, and now wants to generate what they call “PC Plus” or a new line of products that will be capable of running both Windows 8.1 and the Android OS. According to Computerworld, the new machines will be able to almost seamlessly switch between the two operating systems, allowing users to either boot both interfaces at the same time or run tablet apps meant for Android within a window.

HP to Lay Off 5,000 More Employees

While many are rejoicing in the positivity of the New Year, thousands of Hewlett Packard employees will soon be without a job. A year ago, they adjusted layoff numbers from 27,000 to 29,000 employees, but according to a new filing, another 5,000 will be added. Cutting out the 34,000 employees will save the company $4.1 billion per fiscal year. As of now, the company has only released 24,600 employees, meaning another 9,000 or so will get the axe by October 2014. The company has known it would release at least 29,000 employees since early 2013, but CEO Meg Whitman promises this will the last round of large scale layoffs.

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