Christmas week: Tech round-up #3

Christmas Technology 3.jpg

If you’re frustrated with your lack of high-speed broadband (BB), help is on the way – though, somewhat ironically, you’ll have to wait until 2020 for it.

The UK government has ruled that homes and businesses should have a legal entitlement to tiptop BB, promising that the whole country will be able to get at least 10Mbps by 2020.

Rejecting an offer by BT’s shambolic Openreach operation to bring proper BB to 1.1 million rural residences, the government reckons its Universal Service Obligation will solve everything.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, digital minister Matt Hancock said: ‘Access means you can phone up somebody, ask for it and then someone has the legal duty to deliver on that promise. It is about having the right to demand it, so it will be an on-demand programme. So if you don’t go on the internet, aren’t interested, then you won’t phone up and demand this.’

How interesting. I wonder how that’ll work out.

Responding to the development, BT said something really funny [my bold italics to emphasise sardonic astonishment]: ‘BT and Openreach want to get on with the job of making decent broadband available to everyone in the UK, so we’ll continue to explore the commercial options for bringing faster speeds to those parts of the country which are hardest to reach.’

***

The distinctly un-Christmassy and nightmarish stand-off between North Korea and America has taken another turn – this time into the realm of digital mayhem.

According to the US, the North Koreans were certainly behind the WannaCry virus attacks that struck computers across the world back in May – pulling off the stunt through the conduit of the mysterious Lazarus Group.

Once again, I find it very odd that a country that isn’t even on the internet and that probably uses Commodore 64s to run its missile program is capable of orchestrating sophisticated global cyberattacks, but what do I know?

The US’s sudden confirmation backs up the UK security services’ assertion in October that it was the secretive communist state what did it.

Speaking last week, a spokesperson at Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said: ‘Our assessment has been that North Korean actors known as the Lazarus Group were very likely responsible for the WannaCry attack back in May this year.’

Of course, the US and UK would never dream of launching pre-emptive cyberattacks on other countries themselves. No, sir.

Anyhow, neither country will confirm whether or not it’s instigated revenge cyber-mischief against North Korea, though Donald Trump is thought to have unfriended Kim Jong-un on Facebook.

***

Before we all had computers and electric iPhones, the only password we had to remember was the one needed to gain access to the treehouse den. Nowadays, sadly, we need loads of ‘em for the various parts of our lives that are tied, forever, to the internet.

Every year, just for fun, a firm called SplashData reveals a list of the year’s most popular passwords, as revealed by loads of stolen logins (I’m assuming Splashdata aren’t behind the thefts themselves).

Here’s 2017’s list:

  1. 123456
  2. Password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. letmein
  8. 1234567
  9. football
  10. iloveyou
  11. admin
  12. welcome
  13. monkey
  14. login
  15. abc123
  16. starwars
  17. 123123
  18. dragon
  19. passw0rd
  20. master
  21. hello
  22. freedom
  23. whatever
  24. qazwsx
  25. trustno1

Any you recognise? Imagine having to type ‘iloveyou’ every time you log-on to pay British Gas. Also note the cunning, clever types who have attempted to stump the hackers by modifying the old favourite ‘12345’ with the devilish ‘123456789’.

SplashData’s CEO, Morgan Slain, said: ‘For goodness sake, why are people so stupid?’

No, he didn’t. What he actually said was: ‘Unfortunately, while the newest episode may be a fantastic addition to the Star Wars franchise, ‘starwars’ is a dangerous password to use. Hackers are using common terms from pop culture and sports to break into accounts online because they know many people are using those easy-to-remember words.’

Anyway, hope you enjoyed that. I wonder what will make it on to next year’s list. Can’t wait.

Christmas week: Tech round-up #3

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