Search engine Google is furious that an Egyptian networking company managed to clone its security certificate.
According to Google’s bog, the search engine became aware of unauthorised digital certificates for several Google domains. The certificates were issued by an intermediate certificate authority apparently held by a company called MCS Holdings. MCS is a Value Added Distribution focusing on Networking and Automation businesses based near Cairo.
This intermediate certificate was issued by CNNIC.
CNNIC is included in all major root stores and it means that the misused certificates would be trusted by almost all browsers and operating systems. Chrome on Windows, OS X, and Linux, ChromeOS, and Firefox 33 and greater would have rejected these certificates because of public-key pinning, although misused certificates for other sites likely exist.
Google got on the blower to the CNNIC and other major browsers about the incident, and blocked the MCS Holdings certificate in Chrome with a CRLSet push.
CNNIC said that it had contracted with MCS Holdings on the basis that MCS would only issue certificates for domains that they had registered. But MCS installed it in a man-in-the-middle proxy which meant they could intercept secure connections by masquerading as the intended destination.
This was so that effectively it could use the certificate for customers who wanted to monitor their staff use of the world wide wibble.
“However CNNIC delegated its substantial authority to an organization that was not fit to hold it,” growled Google.
Chrome users do not need to take any action to be protected by the CRLSet updates. We have no indication of abuse and we are not suggesting that people change passwords or take other action. At this time we are considering what further actions are appropriate
Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt has said that the technology behind his outfit’s Glass project is too important to throw away, and that the programme has been put under the control of Nest’s Tony Fadell to “make it ready for users”.
After Google stopped selling its wearable Glass device in January this year, many people speculated that the controversial gadget was on its way out for good. However Schmidt said that Google had only ended the Explorer programme and the press claimed that it had cancelled everything.
“Google is about taking risks and there’s nothing about adjusting Glass that suggests we’re ending it.” Schmidt added that Glass remains a “big and very fundamental platform for Google,” and that just like the company’s self-driving cars, the wearable device is a work in progress that will take years to come to fruition.
It’s like saying the self-driving car is a disappointment because it’s not driving me around now, said Schmidt.
Reports last December suggested that Google might be planning to launch a new, cheaper version of Glass this year, based around Intel parts with the updated model also reportedly offering a refreshed design and longer battery life.
However the list of “fixes” needed before Glass was viable was extremely long. However, Schmidt is suggesting that the company is committed to getting something like it into the shops.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) considered taking Google to the cleaners in 2012 for abusing its monopoly position but in the end decided against the move.
That’s according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which said the five FTC commissioners decided not to pursue their findings.
FTC investigators discovered proof that Google abused its monopolistic position and used techniques that harmed competitors such as TripAdvisor.
The reason the FTC did not pursue the case was because it was going to be hard for the poor dears to prove its case. They also felt that Google was “popular”.
Google has a different angle on the findings claiming there was no need for the FTC to take action because it isn’t evil.
The European Commission (EC) doesn’t appear to be shying away from investigating Google, despite a series of high profile spinning events Google organised towards the end of last year.
The FTC discovered that Google interweaved its own products into search results, skewing objective results.
Ever eager to join the fashion bandwagon, chip giant Intel has joined up with TAG Heuer and Google to create a smart watch which they will launch before the end of the year.
TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver told a press conference at a Swiss watch trade show that the deal is a “marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility”.
The watch will use the Android Wear platform and use Intel chips but it’s unclear quite how much it will cost when it’s released.
Intel suit Michael Bell, who is the general manager of Intel’s new devices group, said that making a luxury watch in collaboration with TAG Heuer and Google brings the vision of wearable technology that bit nearer.
The Google man, David Singleton, said that the Swiss watch has inspired generations of artists and engineers. And Google. He said that Google can now imagine a better, beautiful and smarter watch.
Apple releases its range of smart watches next month, and much will depend on whether that is a flop or a success. Intel has never been particularly brilliant at creating reference designs that have long battery lives and its other ventures into consumer technology have all, without exception, been damp squibs.
TAG Heuer doesn’t make cheap watches, so you probably have to have a chunk of disposable income to impress – or alternatively depress, your friends.
Cupertino based Apple Inc has decided to ditch HP and Dell to supply its servers and instead is looking to Taiwanese firms to supply its data centre needs.
That’s according to Taiwan wire Digitimes which said some of the local white box server manufacturers have already received orders from Apple for boxes.
One of the major manufacturers of servers is Quanta, which used to specialise almost wholly in making notebooks for big vendors but has diversified its business over the last two years.
It offers servers at a price that undercuts Dell and HP and will customise the machines for customers which already include giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Apple said recently it will open data centres in Ireland and in Denmark and it’s also spending billions on building up data centres in the USA.
The company is also cuddling up to IBM and wants to release tablet machines that will appeal to enterprises rather than the home users it has depended on in the past.
The artificial intelligence project called Einstein and used in its so called personal assistant Cortana is set to be ported to Android and to Apple’s iOS.
That’s according to a report from Reuters, which said in an exclusive interview that Cortana will eventually become a stand alone application.
But in the interim and widely flagged, Cortana will be rolled out as part of its Windows 10 desktop, not due until the autumn of 2015.
Microsoft has been boasting about Cortana’s abilities and a few weeks ago the company managed to predict a large number of Oscar winners.
Microsoft wants to get away from being considered a proprietary company and the new CEO broom at the company, Satya Nadella, wants to sprained the appeal of the company’s tech.
Certain differs from Google Siri because that trawls the web and its own server for information that it believes people want.
Certain is being projected as super duper artificial intelligence (AI). But although AI has been touted now for many decades it still faces many challenges.
What’s certain is that in the quest for the perfect AI agent, Microsoft faces many challenges from its competition – in particular Google – which has fairly deep pockets too.
Google is offering a new kind of data storage service which should go a long way to melting Amazon’s Glacier.
Nearline is for non-essential data, similar to Glacier, but it is offering it a cent a month per gigabyte. This is more than half the cheapest in the market place, which is Microsoft’s 2.4 cents a gigabyte.
Glacier storage has a retrieval time of several hours, and Nearline data will be available in about three seconds.
While three seconds is years for something like serving a web page, it is ideal for data analysis as well as long-term storage.
This could be Google’s cunning plan – positioning itself as the cloud computing company for all kinds of data analysis.
Tom Kershaw, director of product management for the Google Cloud Platform said that it is not about storage stupid. Its about what you do with analytics. Set ups like Nearline will mean you never have to delete anything and you can always use data.
Google announced plans with several storage providers, including Veritas/Symantec and NetApp, to encrypt and transport data from their systems onto Nearline.
On the consumer front, Dropbox charges about $10 a month to store a terabyte of data, which is the same price as Nearline and Glacier. However those businesses count on most of their customers storing well below their limit.
Either way it is looking like things are hotting up on the cloud with costs being driven down. Scattered showers much be expected.
In a classic poacher turned game keeper scenario, a former Google executive has taken over the US Patent Office.
The US Senate confirmed former Google Inc executive Michelle Lee will head the US Patent and Trademark Office. No one has taken the job for two years ever since David Kappos, a former IBM suit, left in February 2013.
Lee was a lawyer and head of patents and patent strategy at Google, and had been the acting director of the office. The patent office has been slammed for approving what some say are weak software related-patents that have given ground to Patent Trolls.
Lee’s main task will be to improve the quality of patents granted by the agency and send the trolls back to live under their bridges.
Another complaint has been the agency’s long backlog in examining patents. In December 2011, the unexamined backlog was almost 722,000 patents. It currently stands at 602,265, according to the agency’s website.
A frenzy of competition from major vendors for advertising revenue including the mobile market means growth between now and 2020 compared to the conventional advertising market.
That’s the conclusion of ABI Research today, which said in a report the competition is between Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others to push adverts at you through your mobile device.
Growth in the mobile advertising market is set to grow 16 percent CAGR between 2015 and 2020, compared to the total advertising market at 11 percent.
ABI thinks that mobile advertising will represent over 50 percent of total advertising revenue in the next few years.
Right now, Twitter and Facebook have the largest chunk of the market and so the strongest mobile advertising revenues.
The research company believes that there will be plenty of acquisitions as the different players jockey for position to grow their revenues.
Google is the clear leader in the search advertising sector but it faces increasing competition in the years to come, too.
In 2014 Android was dominant as the operating system for smart devices – including smartphones and tablets.
And while Google’s Android OS will rule the roost this year too, as more “intelligence” goes into cars, glasses, and watches, ABI Research thinks its dominance will reach its peak between 2014 and 2019, showing only a modest CAGR of 10 percent.
Android will have competition from Chrome and Firefox, according to Stephanie Van Vactor, an analyst at ABI Research.
She predicts that those will show CAGRs of 29 percent and Chrome respectively in that time period.
Of course Chrome is also a Google product, but she thinks Android will work well with it.
The move to smart devices means that people will have a lot more choice in choosing an operating system. The research company didn’t say how well it thinks Microsoft’s OS for smartphones and the like will do.
Both Google and Apple devices are vulnerable to a bug and the companies are rushing to create patches for people that have such devices.
The bug – named Freak – has been in devices for years and follows US government rules in the 1990s which forced tech vendors to offer weak encryption for devices being exported abroad. While the US government changed those rules, the vulnerability remained in later iterations of the software.
Google has apparently already fixed the bug, while Apple will push an update as early next week.
Freak stands for factoring attack on RSA-Export keys – and was apparently first discovered by French researchers, whose findings were later confirmed by other experts in the field.
Quite a few well known websites, including government websites, support the less secure encryption but Google has advised people to disable that support.
The chairman of Google was summoned to meet the European Competition Commissioner yesterday, as investigations continue into alleged monopolistic habits.
Margarethe Vestager called Eric Schmidt in to discuss a number of complaints about Google, according to a report by Reuters.
Vestiges has already met a number of people complaining about Google, including executives from Microsoft and German press Axel Springer.
Google has, according to the report, has tried to settle the complaints about search engine three times, but all blandishments from the behemoth have been rebuffed.
If the competition commissioner finds that Google has been squeezing out other players in the European market, she could decide that the company has to dish out a tenth of its global revenues, that’s around $6 billion or so.
The CEO of Deutsche Telekom has made a very precise call for Google and Facebook to be regulated in the same way that telcos are.
Tim Hoettges said that there was a convergence between over-the-top web companies and classic telcos and there needs to be one regulatory environment to rule them.
Improvements should be made to spectrum policy for the telecommunications industry, and that the loosening of regulation would encourage the type of investment that governments and policy-making bodies are currently seeking from carriers.
Hoettges said that policy-makers should leave telecoms groups adequate operational freedom to develop IoT-related services such as smart meters and intra-communicating cars, commenting: “We favour net neutrality, but we need to be allowed to have quality classes to enable new services in the Internet of Things.”
Being in favour of net neutrality is different from his US rivals who want everyone to pay them twice for a service that the rest of the world gets for half the price.
Interest in the possible government regulation of Google grows in line with the ever expanding services, reach and influence of Mountain View’s empire.
In fact there have been calls for the regulation of Google since 2012 when Dr Robert Epstein laid out some of the most popular arguments for the regulation of Google, partially-based on evidence, fines following controversies such as the extraction of wifi data during the gathering of photographic information for Google Maps, and partially on his view of Google’s real place in the economy as an ungoverned monopoly.
Earlier this week, Google’s Blogger service warned people that on the 23rd of March it would cull adult content from its users’ web pages.
But now Google has changed its mind after it said, it had received feedback that had convinced it to backtrack.
Google had said it would mark blogs that contained sexually explicit material as private.
Instead, it will now ask people to mark their web sites as “adult”, a flag which will mean a warning page pops up before redirecting people to the particular site.
A Blogger rep posted a message which said: “We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities. So rather than implement this change, we’ve decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn.”
No other changes need be made than for people to mark their sexually explicit pages as “adult”
A law set to be passed by Chinese authorities would make tech vendors provide the government with encryption keys and put backdoors in systems.
According to Reuters, the law relates to counter terrorism and the legislation is likely to be passed into law in the near future.
Other elements of the counter terrorism law include a reqirement for companies to locate their servers and user data in China, as well as forcing vendors to censor content that China believes is related to terrorism.
China already forces banks to buy from home grown vendors, rather than buying abroad.
Reuters said that the implications of this new piece of legislation would be to forbid secure VPNs, to send financial information securely, and to hide any detail of a commercial business.
Google might find itself thanking its lucky stars that it doesn’t do business in mainland China, but other vendors including Apple, Intel and Microsoft will certainly be hit by the legislation.