If January’s felt like three years and you’ve taken to your bed, never fear, with just a week left, the end is now in sight. If you’ve been under the duvet this week and you’ve missed the comings and goings in the world of I.T. and tech, worry not, our trusty roundup is here to bring you right up to date.
Saudi Arabia hacks the world’s richest man
The Saudi Crown Prince has been accused of hacking the WhatsApp account of Jeff Bezos; owner of tech giant Amazon and The Washington Post. An encrypted message was sent from the alleged personal account of Mohammed Bin Salman, which contained a malicious file that infiltrated the account of the worlds richest man allowing the sender to exfiltrate large amounts of data.
While it’s not clear what was taken or how it was used, some have said that the Prince attempted to use the data to blackmail Mr Bezos over The Washington Post’s portrayal of Saudi Arabia. Private messages between the Amazon owner and his girlfriend were published nine months later in the tabloid newspaper, the National Enquirer – this came out just one month after he and his then wife announced their plan to divorce.
Phone hacking of this nature is all too common. States such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can buy malware of this kind off the shelf to spy on anyone it feels is a threat to its regime. The malware uses a security flaw in WhatsApp to access a phone. Once embedded, all the phone’s data – including GPS and banking data – can be accessed. This is used by certain countries who wish to keep an eye on journalists, dissidents and activists. Read more here.
Calls for ban of end-to-end encryption
The argument over end-to-end encryption has been waging for quite some time. Tech companies such as Apple and Facebook have attempted to introduce it to protect the privacy of their customers. But governments have spoken out against it citing it will protect criminals and hide evidence that is often vital in prosecutions.
The argument has raised its head again this week, with the revelation that two years ago, Apple was planning to allow its iPhone customers to do a full end-to-end back up of their devices to the iCloud. These plans were allegedly put on hold after the federal US agency, the FBI, complained that the move would harm investigations.
Apple has recently been said to be unwilling to aid a case against a Saudi Airforce officer who killed three Americans on a Naval base last year. Apple did eventually hand over the iCloud backups, but there have once again been calls for legislation preventing the use of end-to-end encryption. The main reason cited is the loss of evidence that would occur in cases of crimes against children.
Microsoft to be carbon negative by 2030
In an ambitious plan Microsoft has announced plans to not only be carbon neutral but carbon negative in the next 10 years. The plans were announced by Microsoft President, Brad Smith in a blog post on the company’s website. Smith stated that not only did the tech giant want to stop adding to carbon emissions, but it was aiming to remove all the carbon from the air that it has contributed since its foundation in 1975.
Some of the other tech giants such as Amazon and Google have made pledges to be carbon neutral, but none have pledged to do so in such a short time or gone as far as saying they will be carbon negative. This is a truly ambitious plan; which Microsoft admits will require the use of technology that hasn’t even been created yet. But, with the climate disaster taking its toll across the globe in recent years, it will be up to large corporations like Microsoft to lead the change. Whether other corporations will follow suit remains to be seen.
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