Friday roundup: A week in tech

Phone Apps

Mark Zuckerberg, head honcho of inept global disgrace Facebook, is to be issued with a ‘formal summons’ by MPs – though ‘formal summons’ would be more accurately put ‘will be asked’ as they wouldn’t appear to have the power to actually demand his presence.

Earlier this month, Mr Zuckerberg dispatched his sidekick, chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer, to assure MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that everything’s ok in Facebook Land, even if it sometimes seems incredibly suspicious.

But, would you believe, after failing to sufficiently fully answer 40 points put to him, the CTO’s display was deemed ‘unsatisfactory’, stirring the committee’s chair, Damian Collins, to the following words: ‘Mark Zuckerberg’s right-hand man, whom we were assured could represent his views, today failed to answer many specific and detailed questions about Facebook’s business practices.’ Ha, really?

Despite the panoply of ongoing scandals, the firm – remarkably, astonishingly, unbelievably – announced a massive increase in sales this week, with figures rising by almost 50% in the last quarter to $11.9 billion. What, exactly, does this firm have to do to dent its ability to make lots of money?

 ***

Talking of firms doing well despite experiencing rotten times, it seems that Intel isn’t doing too badly either.

The chipmaker was in disarray at the start of year after it was revealed that its CPUs were vulnerable to the Spectre and Meltdown security flaws.

The company attempted a number of fixes, some of which created even more problems such as impairing CPUs’ performance.

However, everyone, including me, seems to have forgotten about all of that, as Intel has just announced profits of $16.1 billion for 2018’s 1st quarter, up 13% year-on-year.

There seems little else to say but ‘well done for successfully navigating what appeared to be an irredeemable catastrophe’ I suppose.

***

Hotel doors around the world are vulnerable to hacks, researchers have found – so it might be an idea to jam a chair up under the handle before you settle down to sleep in that Travel Lodge outside Yeovil this evening.

Door checkers the F-Secure team found that software used in millions of electronic locks allowed them to forge master keys, which granted them access to hotel rooms without leaving an activity log.

The team was moved to investigate the locks after a colleague’s laptop was swiped from a hotel room with no electronic trace of illicit entry. (Did they interrogate the maid? It’s always the maid.)

Assa Abloy, the Swedish manufacturer of the loose locks, reckons there isn’t much to worry about, claiming that ‘these old locks represent only a small fraction’ of its products, and, besides, hotels began rolling out a fix months ago – so, in summary, keep buying our locks, ok?

F-Secure’s Timo Hirvonen said: ‘We wanted to find out if it’s possible to bypass the electronic lock without leaving a trace. Only after we thoroughly understood how it was designed were we able to identify seemingly innocuous shortcomings and come up with a method for creating master keys.’

As an added layer of terror for those who find hotel rooms spooky anyway, the hack has been called Ghosts In The Lock exploit, so sleep well.

Friday roundup: A week in tech

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