Pentagon Wary of New Chinese Missile Vehicle
Today in international tech news: The Pentagon talks about China's new destruction toy; Canada cries foul over Google privacy and ad targeting; the Syrian Electronic Army is toying with Microsoft; HP to launch a gargantuan phone -- or small tablet -- in India; and Huawei says security concerns are bunk.
Jan 16, 2014 9:44 AM PT
Last week, China's military took its new "ultra-high speed missile vehicle" -- or "hypersonic glide vehicle," if you prefer -- for its first test drive, raising eyebrows among U.S. defense officials.
The hypersonic aircraft, capable of maneuvering at a mindboggling 10 times the speed of sound -- that's more than 7,500 miles per hour -- is designed to deliver warheads through U.S. missile defenses, according to the Pentagon. Call it a great leap forward in China's military capacity.
The Pentagon has dubbed the aircraft "WU-14"; Wu, incidentally, is China's ninth-most common surname.
Canada Cries Foul Over Google Privacy
Perhaps taking a cue from the slew of European countries lashing out against Google's privacy policies -- including France, which hit Google with a fine last week -- Canada's federal policy watchdog announced that Google violated national privacy law.
While the EU complaints typically center on Google's melding of various privacy policies into a single cross-platform policy, Canada's beef is with Google's targeted online advertising.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has been investigating Google's ad practices for a year, prompted by a man who complained that he was being targeted based on a medical condition: He had searched for a device to assist with sleep apnea, and subsequently saw ads for such products popping up.
Such targeted ads are hardly shocking -- this has been Google's modus operandi for years -- but this particular instance was deemed inappropriate because it pertained to "sensitive information."
[Source: The Globe and Mail]
Syrian Electronic Army Still Doing Syrian Electronic Army Things
The pro-Bashar al-Assad Syrian Electronic Army accessed Microsoft employee email accounts.
Only a "small number" of accounts were compromised, Microsoft told The Verge -- but enough to enable the SEA to post three internal emails that were plucked from Outlook Web accounts. The emails discuss the recent SEA hacking of a handful of Twitter accounts authored by Microsoft.
Phishing -- sending messages with links that can implant malware onto a computer -- was the SEA's method, according to Microsoft, which added that no customer information was compromised.
However, the SEA noted that Microsoft's password security was far from staunch: "A Microsoft employee wanted to make his password more stronger [sic], so he changed it from 'Microsoft2' to 'Microsoft3' #happened," an SEA spokesperson tweeted.
[Source: The Verge]
HP to Launch Huge Phone in India
HP plans to launch a "voice tablet" with a 6-inch screen in India next month.
The device, which will run on Android, signals HP's return to the smartphone market -- to the extent that a device with a 6-inch screen can be called a "phone." It can play high-definition video, and it is capable of taking HD photos with its front- or rear-facing cameras.
The phablet push is not unique to HP. LG's most recent curved smartphone, the LG G Flex, also has a 6-inch display.
[Source: The Washington Post]
Huawei Says Security Concerns Are Bunk
Chinese telecom giant Huawei denied claims that its equipment is particularly susceptible to hacking.
The declaration came after German magazine Der Spiegel -- among those with unfettered access to Edward Snowden's document bounty -- reported last month that the National Security Agency had installed "back doors" into Huawei equipment.
It is "groundless" to report that Huawei is any more vulnerable than other telecoms, a company spokesperson said.
[Source: The Associated Press]