Five stories from 2019 you need to know about

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2019 has been an incredibly busy year in the world of I.T and tech, with huge cyberattacks and privacy wars waging around the globe.

From trade wars to devastating loss of life in plane crashes, in this post we look at some of the biggest topics from the last 12 months.

Huawei dragged into the US/ China trade war

If you have been living under a rock the last 12 months you may have missed the news that communications giant Huawei has been dragged into the ongoing bitter trade war between the US and China. The company was first banned from providing tech for the country’s 5G networks, before the USA imposed a ban preventing Huawei from working with other companies in the country. This led to Google blocking Huawei from future Android updates, essentially meaning the Chinese smartphone maker would be banned from integrating Google Play Store apps onto its devices.

This story has hit the headlines many times during 2019 and is still not over yet. Huawei has now created its own operating system and plans to rival Android and Apple with it.

5G lands in the UK

Speaking of 5G, this year the long-anticipated launch of the tech finally happened in the UK. 5G promises eye watering speeds, with full length HD movies being downloaded in a matter of seconds. Between May and November, it was rolled out by network providers, however as of yet, it hasn’t lived up to expectations. Still only available in a handful of places, most smartphone manufacturers didn’t bother to make their 2019 models 5G ready. Choosing to wait until 2020 and save their customers the extra cost of functions they won’t immediately be able to make full use of.

The devices that are 5G ready now are large and cumbersome. However, the second-generation models are expected to be available in 2020 and promise to make 4G models appear as quaint as a Nokia 3310.

Facebook hitting headlines again (and again)

In 2019 there has been hardly a week go by when Facebook hasn’t been in the news. From the announcement of its highly controversial cryptocurrency; Libra coin, to its even more controversial plans to introduce end to end encryption in its messaging apps, Mr Zuckerberg has again been a busy bee.

The general theme for the company has been issues around privacy with it facing criticism from all corners of the globe on how it uses personal information. Back in October Facebook paid £500,000 for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, however, it doesn’t appear as though the social media giant learnt its lesson with it admitting in November that over 100 partners could still access information in groups that should be private.

Disaster for the Boeing 737 MAX

In its rush to keep up with other commercial aircraft manufactures, Boeing launched its 737 MAX at the end of 2018, however the fleet was grounded this year following two fatal crashes in which 346 people were killed.

The crashes occurred when aircraft suffered issues with the flawed Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) which was designed to compensate for the engine being heavier than that of earlier models. The idea was that it would automatically compensate and stop the craft from stalling by turning the nose down. MCAS was supposed to work in the background in order to make the 737 Max feel to pilots like previous generations of the popular airliner, reducing training costs. Instead, it overrode pilots' commands on both doomed flights and repeatedly pushed the nose of the plane toward the ground.

The 737 MAX is still grounded, and Boeing are in the process of recoding the software. It is due for relaunch in the new year, however, there is still no word on how pilots will be trained to fly them.

Ongoing issues with Amazon cloud

It was revealed earlier this year that teletext holidays had left the data of more than half a million of its customers exposed for three years. The personal information including names, addresses and dates of birth were left on an unprotected server along with more than 200,000 recorded telephone conversations. On the calls, customers can be heard discussing holiday plans, however credit card numbers were keyed into the phone, so they were at least protected.

The files have since been removed, however, for three years this information was left on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud server for anyone to access should they so wish. This was just one of many security issues that have occurred with the AWS server. Other prominent data breaches have included Uber and even the US Department of Defence. The issue has usually been with misconfigured security settings however the lack of security defaults means users are able to override inbuilt security settings unknowingly.

Those were some of the most important tech and I.T. stories of 2019. We will be back in 2020 with our weekly roundups brining you the biggest I.T. and tech stories every week.