Yesterday WhatsApp announced the final step of its strong encryption effort. Millions of users will finally have access to one of the most important features WhatsApp lacked: privacy protection.
Wired has published a longform on that subject, and it is strange to find there much more appraisal to WhatsApp founders -Jan Koum and Brian Acton who, by the way, look far different to the typical super-billionaire- than to the real responsibles from the actual magic.
That magic comes from Open Whisper Systems, who have provided the tools and protocols that allow that end-to-end encryption to finally be there for WhatsApp users. As Forbes has put it:
All of this is now coming to a billion people’s pockets without them having to do anything about it
Exactly. And that’s how technology really changes lives.
The personal information of almost 5 million parents and more than 200,000 kids was exposed earlier this month after a hacker broke into the servers of a Chinese company that sells kids toys and gadgets.
That company is VTech, but the hack is not on the toys themselves: it’s on the servers that recolect parents and children data. And ancient vulnerability that allows SQL injection attacks and that has lead to the change to collect all this information from end users.
It’s not an isolated case. There has been for example another problem with the “Hello Barbie” toy from Mattel, which audio files and connection data to servers could be hijacked (it’s not clear if there’s a real risk there according to Mattel partners on this feature). Wired told us a story about the IM-ME made from Mattel and repurposed for opening gare door, and My Friend Cayla could become a toy from an horror movie.
Security and privacy related news are so frequent on this days that we don’t pay much attention to day, but when those users are kids, things start to raise eyebrows. Maybe this is what we need to be aware of the dangers of this information and hyperconnection era.
Security must be seen as something important from the very beginning. We must learn what secure by design means. And product and service makers should apply that idea to all their processes.
These days there have been reports on two sides of the same product: cables and power adapters, often dismissed by users, are more important that it may seem.
On one end we’ve got OnePlus, who has been victim of a detailed analysis by a Google Engineer. He found that this maker should be using 56kΩ resistors on their OnePlus 2 power adapter, but instead they’re using 10kΩ resistors.
As Ars Technica explains, these adapters are suitable for OnePlus smartphones, for sure, but you shouldn’t use it on other USB-C connector devices such as the Nexus 5X/6P or the Chromebook Pixel.
And then we’ve got another detailed analysis, this time exploring the inside of a MacBook Power Adapter. The result, as the text itself, is surprising, and the expert reviewing it calls it “an impressive piece of engineering”
We usually criticize Apple and other makers for selling us expensive cables. Sometimes we can be right, sure, but others it seems quite clear that an expensive cable or power adapter has a reason to be that expensive.
Not in the case of HDMI cables, by the way. Don’t buy expensive ones.