No Encryption-Backdoor For Obama Administration

More and more we are being informed about digital security issues that affect us. From leaders like David Cameron stating he would remove encryption within the UK and even the head of MI5 joining Camerons crusade to remove end-to-end encryption within the UK. Recently we even learnt (courtesy of Edward Snowden yet again) that Microsoft may have even actively helped governments bypass encryption. With all this scary news, it’s about time we had some positive news regarding encryption right? Que FBI director James Comey.

At a congressional panel, James Comey stepped forward and stated that the Obama administration would not ask congress for legislation requiring a backdoor into encryption protected systems. Starting from the beginning, what is an ‘encryption backdoor’?.

Earlier this year it was suggested by several government officials and even company leaders, that in order to avoid practices such as illegally intercepting and gaining access to systems to read your private and confidential details they could instead be given a key. This would give them legal access to the systems, and discussions about this led to the idea of a split key. A key where no one company or government agency would have access to the whole key, therefore requiring the permissions of all the government groups in order to use it.

This is the first time a public spokesmen has come out with any official line going against the idea of encryption backdoors. The question now is will companies and agencies stop asking for them?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Windows 10 Cortana Only Works If You’re American?

The launch of the much-anticipated operating system from Microsoft occurred at midnight two days ago. I installed it onto my laptop yesterday and so far, I have to be honest, I’m not overly keen. The OS seems much slower to boot and load applications than previous editions including Windows 8.1 but does admittedly look quite sleek with some nice new, major features.

One of these major features is Cortana which made its debut on Windows Phone devices a year or so ago. The personal assistant is a contender in the battle against Google Now and Siri – two very good voice recognition pieces of software for both Android and iOS respectively.

This time Microsoft have released Cortana as part of their full operating system for desktop and laptop devices, and you are able to start it by simply saying “Hey Cortana” or by typing in the search bar on the left-hand side of the taskbar.

The pop up is again, black and sleek-looking with very simple icons along the left-hand side:

When it works, Cortana asks a few set-up questions and then you’re good to ask her pretty much anything. However there is a catch. On our own Windows devices we cannot seem to enable the virtual assistant. Whenever we attempt to enable Cortana we get the following error:

When we checked out our regional and language settings, they were all set to English (UK), you would think this is fine but from our own experience and after reading several Reddit comments we have found out that Cortana will only function if your device is configured in American language format.

To prove changing language to American works, here is our Time and Language screen in Windows 10 after we make some changes to English (United States):

See how it is set to English (Unites States)? Well, let’s try a command to Cortana:

Ok, so now it works – well, it does but all of the units are in Fahrenheit – not much good for us UK residents and others around the world! However you can ask “Whats the weather in celsius?” to combat this issue.

Amusingly, Microsoft made the same blunder with their release of Windows Phone a year or so ago. To use Cortana you would have to change your language and settings to United States to get her to function. This restriction was lifted a few months after the launch though, so there is hope for Cortana yet.

Microsoft have said that they are aware of the issue and it is affecting a lot of people that are now using the brand new OS. They are currently working on a patch that will be released via a system update. So make sure that you keep installing any windows updates that become available for your device, as it may fix Cortana!

However for those who are eager, you can manually change your country and region settings so you can use Cortana. To do this use the following:

  • Open the Start Menu by pressing the icon or the Windows key on your keyboard
  • Type “Settings” into the search bar
  • Click the icon that says “PC Settings”
  • This will the load up another window, here click “Time & Language”
  • On the left-hand side of this window, select “Region & Language”
  • Change the setting from United Kingdom to United States
  • Then change to the Speech tab on the left hand side
  • Change this to English (United States) 
  • Go back to the Region and Language menu on the left-hand side
  • Where it says “Will be displayed language after next sign in” Click here
  • Then select options
  • At the bottom change the keyboard back to United Kingdom
  • Done! You may need to reboot for the change to take effect

We’re currently getting mixed reports on this, with some stating that it’s working fine from the UK and other countries, so please let us know where you are from and if it’s working fine for you.

Of course, we accept no responsibility by you altering your regional settings, but we can’t see any disadvantages of doing this, but for us it is simply an annoyance that should just work, but at least Microsoft are aware and this should be rectified soon, we hope.

Wargaming Announces the Open Beta for World of Warships With New Trailer

Wargaming has just announced that it pushed its upcoming title, World of Warships, to open beta. This means that everybody can download and enjoy the naval warfare game and if you were already in the closed beta, you can now have your friends join and help you through the PvE or even test your skills in PvP with them.

The open beta is said to have 10 unique maps and over 90 ships, split into two historic naval ship banners, the Americans and Japanese. The tech tree has four ship classes, all with their unique gameplay and tactics. You can either choose to have Destroyers, boasting big torpedoes, extreme manoeuvrability and smoke screen capabilities, or take the helm of Cruisers and intimidate your opponents with big, powerful guns, anti-aircraft guns, and a lot of firepower to support your teammates.

The remaining two classes consist of Battleships, who are goliaths that can pierce through the thickest armoured ships in the game, sustain a lot of damage and act as the “guardians” for your fleet, and the almighty Aircraft Carriers, who can be your fleet’s eyes and firepower support.

Aside from the American and Japanese banners, you can also take the helm of a few Russian and British. So whether you want to try it out or get your friends to help your fleet, it’s definitely worth giving it a try. You can download it from its website here.

New Pew Survey Shows Only 7% of Americans Depend on Their Phone for Internet Access

Pew Research Center conducted a survey and estimates that only 7% of Americans depend solely on their mobile device for internet service while having no viable alternatives. Additionally, almost 10% have a smartphone with no home broadband connection, and 15% have a very limited number of options beyond their smartphones.

A lot of this is because of economic necessity as about 13% of Americans making less than $30,000 per year rely almost exclusively on their smartphones. In contrast, only 1% of people making $75,000 or more do the same.  The odds of these groups hitting their data cap is also very different. Users in the lower salary bracket are at 51% and the higher salary cap are at 35%. Also noted is that the users in the lower bracket are twice as likely to cancel or freeze service due to a budget problems , being 48% to 21%.

Source: Engadget

Uncovered Hacking Plot Points to China Buying Stolen US Military Data

The recent news reveals that the US authorities have charged a Chinese business man with hacking into the Boeing computer systems and other firms with large defense contacts, stealing their data and then selling it to China.

Mr. Su Bin has been arrested last month in Canada after being accused of working with two other suspects to steal data about military projects amongst other similar data. The prosecutors have stated that Mr Su was mostly targeting information regarding fighter jets, military cargo aircraft and weapons. The information does not come as a big surprise, given that the 2013 reports have revealed that industrial spying from China is continuously becoming a threat. Though no specific proof has been found that the Chinese government is involved in Mr Su’s case, the US still accuses China of systematically stealing American high-tech data.

“We have repeatedly made it clear that the United States will continue using all the tools our government possesses to strengthen cyber-security and confront cyber-crime,” spokesman Marc Raimondi said.

It is reported that Mr. Su runs a Chinese aviation technology company, having its office in Canada. On June 28, he apparently was detained while attempting to gain Canadian citizenship, being accused of attempting to sell the stolen data to state-owned firms in China. While the US justice department remains “deeply concerned about cyber-enabled theft of sensitive information”, Boeing has apparently released a statement in which the company admits it was co-operating with the US authorities to uncover industrial espionage hacking attempts against the US companies.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of BBC

Justin Carter Out On Bail After Anonymous Person Posted $500,000 Bail

When does your online life become your real life? Always, apparently. As a bonus anything you do in your life, especially any felony actions will stay to haunt you forever! Justin Carter, 19 and a gamer at heart was placed in jail and given a $500,000 bail for making a comment.

“Oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head,” “I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.” Making this comment on Facebook after a League of Legends match.

Not only is the comment considered a “Terroristic Threat” or “Criminal Threat” in some places, it can carry a 10 year prison sentence. Carter has already spent nearly four months in jail awaiting trial. Making a comment, sometimes even taking a single action could place the title of Felon over your name for the rest of your life in the United States, there are no second chances.

For those of you who are gamers, most likely know that what he said is just trash talk, and anyone in their right mind would likely know that he was not serious. After making the comments Carter supposedly followed the comment with “lol” and “JK”, which stand for Laugh Out Loud, and Just Kidding.

Much trash talk from gamers or anyone online for that matter, many times consist of homophobic, racist, threatening and sexist remarks. While many websites, and even games give you a feature to report said comments, or even posts, someone felt the need to report this comment to the police.

For those of you who have heard about this before, and are following the case, you might be interested in learning that Carter has been released from jail. According to Kotaku an anonymous person posted the $500,000 bail. If found guilty, Carter could spend up to 10 years in prison, and carry the lifetime title of felon, not a title that you earn from a video game, but a title you earn in real life. One that will likely haunt him for the rest of his life. If he does earn this title, he will likely be forced to work a dead end job, and be judged by everyone he meets for the rest of his life.

In the State of Texas a “Terrorist Threat” is a third-degree felony.

Do you feel that Carter deserves to earn the title of a felon, and serve a lengthy prison sentence. Or do you think he should be free?

Image courtesy of Christian Post.