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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Quotw This was the week in which an event of Earth-shattering proportions took place - rocking the world of technology, spilling lattes everywhere and bringing anyone with even a faint interest in geek gear to their knees.

That's right: alleged hackers in website-raiding outfit LulzSec were cuffed by the feds.

Suspected members of the second most famous hacktivist group in the world after Anonymous, of which it is a splinter group, were collared after agents turned one of the group's own.

Hector Xavier Monsegur, accused of being the organisation's kingpin Sabu, was arrested in June and has apparently been informing on LulzSec members ever since. Monsegur and four British and Irish men were charged with hacking; another man was charged with unlawful interception of a wire communication.

The alleged head honcho fell into the FBI's sights when he logged into an IRC chat server without using the Tor anonymisation service, thereby revealing his IP address to investigators.

Meanwhile some white-hat hacking by a team at the University of Michigan resulted in Futurama's foul-mouthed robot Bender being elected head of Washington DC's school board, and proved that e-voting systems just aren't ready yet.

The board announced they had set up the system and planned to use it in an election, so they invited anyone who fancied a go the opportunity to break in during the three weeks before the election.

Professor Alex Halderman said:

It was too good an opportunity to pass up. How often do you get the chance to hack a government network without the possibility of going to jail?

Halderman and two graduate students spotted a vulnerability within a few hours, broke in, made themselves home and stopped rival hackers from getting in.

This was also the week in which another big event took place in the tech world: the unveiling of the new iPad. (Not iPad 3 or iPad HD - "the new iPad", that's how you've got to say it if you want fit in with the fanbois.)

After leaks rumours about everything that the new fondleslab had to offer, and some things that it didn't, the iDevice was finally revealed on Wednesday.

It will definitely show you a lovely flower in hi-res, but the much-vaunted 4G capability will only work in the US and the prices are typically high, although that does drop the tag on the iPad 2.

Apple wasn't given even a moment to bask in the joy of its new offering unmolested; its adversaries in the world of patent lawsuits were determined to take the spring out of its step with threatened and delivered legal action.

On the day of the-new-iPad launch, before Apple even had a chance to show off its slab, Samsung launched another patent lawsuit against the firm in South Korea.

The electronics giant said:

Samsung has today (March 6) filed a lawsuit against Apple in the Seoul Central District Court over its continued infringement of three utility patents in its iPhone 4S and iPad 2.

And right after the announcement of the-new-iPad, Chinese firm Proview, which claims ownership of the IPAD trademark, said resellers and suppliers in the country should stop selling the iPad and the iPad 2 and not stock the new iPad.

In a strongly worded letter, Proview said:

Anybody who continues to do so will be seen as intentionally infringing rights and the company will adopt the most severe measures by taking legal action.

Over in mobile world, Google announced plans to rebrand its Android Market as Google Play, presumably in an attempt to point out to its users that it sells music, movies and books as well as apps.

The Chocolate Factory's official blog said:

Today we’re eliminating all [the hassle of moving files] with Google Play, a digital entertainment destination where you can find, enjoy and share your favorite music, movies, books and apps on the web and on your Android phone or tablet.

Google Play is entirely cloud-based so all your music, movies, books and apps are stored online, always available to you, and you never have to worry about losing them or moving them again.

Privacy issues rumbled on this week as the New York Times showed that Android phones could slurp photos just as well as Apple Jesus mobes, prompting a US Senator to pressure the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation.

Senator Charles Schumer said:

These uses go well beyond what a reasonable user understands himself to be consenting to when he allows an app to access data on the phone for purposes of the app's functionality.

And over in the world of boffins, the elusive God particle once more batted its eyelids at physicists without following through. The final analysis from the now defunct Tevatron collider in the US gave another suggestion that the Higgs boson might exist, similar to the tease scientists at CERN saw last December, but it's still not enough to claim discovery.

Fermilab physicist Rob Roser said:

Unfortunately, this hint is not significant enough to conclude that the Higgs boson exists.

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