Mark Wilson

Microsoft threatened job cuts to influence UK government IT policy

Microsoft threatened job cuts to influence UK government IT policy

By threatening to implement job cuts in affected parts of the country, Microsoft tried to influence UK government IT policy. The company stands accused of trying to blackmail members of parliament when it disagreed with planned IT reforms.

The claims come from Prime Minister David Cameron's former strategy chief, Steve Hilton. He says Microsoft telephoned politicians in areas that the company has research and development departments with the threat of "we will close them down in your constituency if this goes through". And it seems that Microsoft is not alone in this sort of activity.

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Hackers leak the sexual preferences of millions of online daters to the dark web

Pants Down Caught Handcuffed Bound Bondage

The details of millions of users of Adult FriendFinder -- the dating site with the tagline "hookup, find sex or meet someone hot now" -- have been leaked by hackers. Channel 4 reports that details of nearly 4 million users were exposed on the dark web after a security breach.

As well as information such as names, email addresses, and dates of birth, hackers also gained access to personal information such as users' sexual preferences and details of their willingness to conduct extramarital affairs. The compromised data includes accounts that had been deleted by their owners, and the hackers are now threatening to hit out at victims.

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Google finds security questions are crap because your answers are fake

Google finds security questions are crap because your answers are fake

Apple and other handset manufacturers might be trying to push users to securing their data with biometrics, but the vast majority of services still rely on the good old password. Lots of sites use the idea of memorable data either as a means of locking down accounts, or as a way to gain access to a forgotten password -- the likes of your mother's maiden name, town of birth, favorite color of underwear, and so on.

Research by Google shows that the security question system is failing, and it should come as no surprise that the blame is laid firmly at the door of the likes of you and I. We already know that people are rubbish at picking passwords, but there is also a problem with the answers they provide to security questions. Answers are either too easy for others to guess, or they are made up -- and people are forgetful buggers prone to failing to remember the answers they dreamt up.

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Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One now available

Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One now available

A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the upcoming release of an over-the-air TV tuner for Xbox One owners. Now the big day has rolled around and gamers in the US and Canada can now get their hands on the Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One.

Priced at $59.99, the TV tuner will be welcomed by cord cutters as it brings live over-the-air HDTV or analog TV with no monthly fee. It can be used with any Xbox One including the newly announced white Xbox One with Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It also brings extra features such as the ability to pause live broadcasts, but on the Xbox One this is limited to just 30 minutes.

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Huawei's LiteOS Internet of Things operating system is a minuscule 10KB

Huawei's LiteOS Internet of Thing operating system is a miniscule 10KB

Chinese firm Huawei today announces its IoT OS at an event in Beijing. The company predicts that within a decade there will be 100 billion connected devices and it is keen for its ultra-lightweight operating system to be at the heart of the infrastructure.

Based on Linux, LiteOS weighs in at a mere 10KB -- smaller than a Word document -- but manages to pack in support for zero configuration, auto-discovery, and auto-networking. The operating system will be open for developers to tinker with, and is destined for use in smart homes, wearables, and connected vehicles.

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Just about everyone thinks Internet.org is a terrible idea

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Mark Zuckerberg probably thought the world would bow down to him when Facebook announced the Internet.org project. The idea of bringing internet access to those in developing parts of the world seems, on the face of it, to be something of an exercise in altruism. Of course, it's not quite that simple.

Many companies complain that the project goes against the idea of net neutrality -- a claim that Zuckerberg vehemently denies. But now the vocal opposition to Internet.org is getting louder. Privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has several concerns with the project, and a collective of 67 digital rights groups has signed a letter to the Facebook founder expressing concerns about the approach Internet.org is taking.

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Microsoft's VC3 security is encryption for the cloud

Microsoft's VC3 security is encryption for the cloud

The inexorable move towards the cloud continues apace, and something that remains a key concern is security. Microsoft thinks it may have come up with a solution in the form of Verifiable Confidential Cloud Computing, or VC3, which has been designed to keep cloud data encrypted and secure even when the data is being used to perform calculations.

Described as a "lockbox in the cloud", VC3 keeps data protected by using secure, managed hardware to perform any necessary decryption. Encrypted data is transferred to VC3-managed cloud hardware where it is then decrypted, used in calculations, and then re-encrypted.

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Microsoft will keep your emails in check automatically

Microsoft will keep your emails in check automatically

Towards the end of last year, Microsoft launched Clutter. It's a tool designed to make it easier to focus on the email that matter by moving the less important ones into a separate folder. It works in a similar way to decluttering tools offered by Yahoo and Gmail, and now it's being rolled out to everyone.

Starting in June, there will be no need to manually activate the feature as it will be enabled by default. If you're not keen on having your emails tinkered with, you can disable it, but Microsoft explains that the aim is to save you time by reducing the amount of chaff you have to sort through to get to the wheaty content that matters.

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Court of Appeals says Samsung's legal payments to Apple should be reduced

Court of Appeals says Samsung's legal payments to Apple should be reduced

Patent lawsuits in the world of technology are nothing new, and the case between Apple and Samsung resulted in one of the largest fines ever being handed down. Samsung was ordered to pay $930 million in damages after a court found that the company had violated Apple patents with its smartphone and tablet designs.

Today the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned part of the original ruling, saying that the jury was wrong to say that Samsung infringed on Apple's trade dress intellectual property. The exact details of what this will mean are yet to come out, but it should lead to a fairly hefty reduction in Samsung's legal costs.

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Apple buys high-precision GPS firm Coherent Navigation

Apple buys high-precision GPS firm Coherent Navigation

The accuracy of GPS on iPhones could be on the verge of becoming significantly better. Apple has confirmed that it has acquired GPS company Coherent Navigation, a start-up that specializes in super-precise global positioning systems.

As is usual, Apple remains tight-lipped about future plans, going no further than confirming the purchase in an email. The wheels of activity are already in motion and the Coherent Navigation website has already vanished from the internet.

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Streaming video subscriptions will quadruple by 2019

Streaming video subscriptions will quadruple by 2019

Online video services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are undeniably popular, but they are set to explode in the next few years. A study published by Juniper Research suggests that in a period of just five years (2014-2019) the number of people subscribing to streaming video services will rocket from 92.1 million to 332.2 million.

Despite what many people may have thought, it is not growing use of mobile devices for entertainment that will be responsible for the increase. The nearly fourfold growth will be driven by the success of the likes of Google's Chromecast and Amazon's Fire TV Stick.

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No more waiting for carriers -- Microsoft will push out Windows 10 Mobile updates

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One of the frustrations facing Windows Phone users -- much like Android fans -- is that when an OS update is announced it can be difficult to find out when, or indeed if, a particular handset will receive it. Carriers can take an age to release update to their customers.

With Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft is making things much simpler by taking over the task of pushing out updates. This means users will no longer have to wait for their mobile carrier to get around to it. It's something that will help not only to ensure that as many people as possible are using the very latest version of the operating system, but will also help to stamp out a serious problem: fragmentation.

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Here's how genuine and non-genuine Windows 10 upgrades will work

Here's how genuine and non-genuine Windows 10 upgrades will work

Later this summer, Windows 10 will be released. Microsoft has pushed out numerous builds in recent months but details about how the upgrade process will work have been a little thin on the ground. Today Microsoft reveals how users of both genuine and non-genuine versions of Windows 7 and 8.x will be able to upgrade to Windows 10.

We already know that the upgrade process will be simple and Terry Myerson had already suggested that it would be possible to upgrade from a pirated version of Windows for free. Now the differences between the upgrade process for genuine and non-genuine version of Windows are made clear -- and pirates will have to put up with a desktop watermark.

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Facebook rides roughshod over privacy laws

Facebook rides roughshod over privacy laws

Facebook and privacy are not words that generally belong in the same sentence, but a Belgian watchdog has expressed surprise at just how little regard for European law the social network shows. The Privacy Protection Commission says "Facebook tramples on European and Belgian privacy laws", and warns users to take action.

Mark Zuckerberg's site is accused to tracking users even if they are not logged into a Facebook account, and sidestepping questions from European regulators. Although the Privacy Protection Commission is not able to impose fines for failure to abide by European law, it is in a position to offer advice -- and the advice to people is to use software to block Facebook's tracking regardless of whether they use the site or not.

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European telecom firms may block all mobile ads, spelling trouble for Google

European telecom firms may block all mobile ads, spelling trouble for Google

Google is facing something of a European revolution as mobile companies consider blocking ads on a massive scale. Israeli company Shine has developed software that blocks mobile ads, and it has gained the attention and support of a number of telecom companies in Europe.

Talking to the Financial Times, one wireless carrier said that the software had been installed at its data centers and could be enabled by the end of the year. With the potential to automatically block most ads on web pages and within apps, the repercussion of the ad boycott could be huge as mobile providers try to wrestle control from the likes of Google.

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