Internet Surveillance Backdoors to be Required in Kazakhstan

While those of us in the UK worry about risks to our internet security posed by the Snooper’s Charter and the calls for removing or weakening encryption in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks, Kazakhstan is one step ahead of the west. After January 1st 2016, every internet capable device in the country will be required to install a “national security certificate”, which will allow the government to gain access to its communications, whether they are encrypted or not. In order to help enforce the requirement, ISPs and network carriers must keep records of users that do and don’t install the certificate code, making it almost impossible to avoid it if you want to access the internet.

There are many risks with implementing such a backdoor on a nationwide level. As well as allowing the government to potentially keep tabs on those who would challenge the current government, the backdoor could also be misused by unscrupulous parties for the own ends, whether it is criminals finding a way to misuse the backdoor to access sensitive date or even opening its citizens up to surveillance or cyber attacks from other nations.

The requirement of using the certificate is shaky too, as while it is designed to work on Windows, Mac OSX, Android and iOS, it has no provision for users of Linux. And there could be problems if the certificate were to be revoked, or become incompatible with future versions of operating systems. Were someone wishing not to play by the rules, they could find ways to encrypt data that the backdoor won’t reveal or spoof their usage of it.

In this day and age, where internet security is a topic of hot debate, it will be interesting to see how well these backdoors work for Kazakhstan or whether they do more harm than good.

Finnish Smartphone Maker Jolla Expands to Two New Markets

Back in February, Jolla brought out release version 1.0 of their Sailfish OS and announced they were ready for global distribution. Since then it had been a bit quiet on that front and we hadn’t heard much. This changed during the past week when Jolla announced not one but two new partnerships on the emerging mobile markets.

Jolla is a new Finnish smartphone from the company of the same name. It is running the independent operating system, Sailfish OS. Based on the heritage of Meego, an open source operating system formerly developed by Nokia among others. The Jolla smartphone offers a distinct user experience, unlike any of the competition with its button-less design and unique gesture based user experience as well as Android application compatibility.

Snapdeal.com, India’s largest e-commerce marketplace, will be the new exclusive parter of Jolla Ltd. in India and should be available to their 25 million customers within a month.

Kunal Bahl, Co-founder & CEO, Snapdeal.com comments on this exclusive partnership: “We at Snapdeal.com constantly endeavour to offer high quality products across varied categories to our 25 million+ users at best prices. The smartphone category has been getting an extremely encouraging response on our platform. However the market in India offers few choices in terms of mobile operating systems. Jolla with its innovative Sailfish OS introduces an entirely new user experience to consumers. Jolla offers a unique smartphone experience both in terms of hardware and software. We look forward to a long term and mutually beneficial relationship”.

The second deal for Jolla was struck in Kazakhstan with Mobile Invest. This is the first partnership Jolla has in the CIS countries and the Co-founder of Jolla, Marc Dillon, commented that he was exited to attend the Jolla launch in Almaty.

Daniyar Galimzhanov, Mobile Invest comments: “The Jolla smartphone with its unique and independent Sailfish OS mobile operating system brings a breath of fresh air to the smartphone market, which has long been dominated by only a few players. We believe that Jolla has true potential to become a smartphone of choice for those looking for an alternative. We are honoured to open the world’s first Jolla showroom in Almaty.”

Thank you Jolla for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Jolla.

Russian Proton-M Satellite Rocket Crashes, Toxic Fuel Everywhere

Technology isn’t always fun and games as the latest Russian rocket carrying three “GLONASS” navigation satellites came crashing to the ground after a failed take-off at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. During take off the rocket swerved to one side and in an attempt to correct itself ended up plummeting to the ground and disintegrating in mid air.

Footage of the crash, shown below, has spread like wildfire across Russia and Central Asia as there is fear of an ecological crisis as the rocket crashed with 600 tons of toxic propellants on board. While there have been no human fatalities there have certainly been economic ones as the “Rossiya24 TV Channel” suggests the failed crash will cost the Russian Space Industry somewhere around $200 million.

The entire area in the vicinity of the crash has been evacuated and the Kazakhstan emergency mninistry has warned of an ecological threat to the surrounding area.

Strangely though, this accident isn’t as uncommon as you might think. Russian Space agency sources stated that:

“We’ve had similar accidents at Baikonur before. After the area is cleaned up, launches will resume – in two-three months,”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ5__1PPgNQ[/youtube]

Image courtesy of Spaceflight101 (YouTube)