Tag Archives: Gadget Reviews

EFF lawyer questions Microsoft’s ability to search our email, claims it’s open to abuse

This week Microsoft revealed that, without a warrant, it accessed the Hotmail account of a French blogger in order to track down an employee leaking source code to some of its products, ultimately leading to that employee’s arrest. Microsoft’s actions created an uproar among users, causing it to spell out both its means, and its justification. Microsoft claims it needs to establish if “there is evidence sufficient for a court order” before conducting any searches, as allowed under its terms of service (the ones you read and agreed to). In response, Electronic Frontier Foundation fellow Andrew Crocker calls Redmond’s claim that it can’t obtain a warrant on itself a false premise with massive potential for abuse. Instead of “Warrants for Windows,” he argues that bringing in the FBI and obtaining a warrant is not only possible, but that it would be in line with Microsoft’s policy to require a warrant before revealing user info to others.

Though the process may be legal, a larger queasiness arises because, as worded, Microsoft’s TOS could submit a user’s inbox to those searches merely by violating its Code of Conduct. That could happen by (for example) emailing links that depict nudity, incite or express profanity, or facilitate the sale of firearms. Crocker himself states that, presumably, Microsoft isn’t using these standards as an excuse to dig through Outlook.com inboxes. His problem with its actions is more that by relying only on permission given by internal and external legal teams and its TOS, but not the actual court system, a potential for abuse exists.

As The Guardian details, other providers like Apple, Google and Yahoo (or likely AOL, which owns this blog) have similarly worded policies that could be used to access user data in order to protect their property. We asked Crocker about those, and he states that the EFF’s criticism stands in regards to similar policies, and that, while this particular case likely arose from an unusual set of circumstances, the fact we have no way of knowing if a company accessed our data is troubling (In the update on its policies, Microsoft said it would include data on the number of these types of searches in its bi-annual transparency report). In one case, TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington even claimed that while he cannot be sure, he’s “nearly certain” Google may have accessed his Gmail inbox to sniff out a leaker. Whatever the case, we suddenly have some weekend reading time set aside for the topic of end-to-end encryption with GNU Privacy Guard and “how to setup your own email server.”

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/22/eff-warrants-for-windows-google/?ncid=rss_truncated

Wendy’s now lets you pay for a meal with its mobile app

Wendy’s, home to a bunch of square burgers and Frosty, is following in Burger King’s footsteps and embracing mobile payments. Now, you can use the Ohio company’s app to pay for your purchase in most (but not all) of its locations in the US. Just like its Burger King counterpart, the app acts as sort of a digital wallet that generates six-digit codes you’ll have to give to cashiers for payment. Wendy’s, however, has regrettably left out one of the BK app’s best features — discounts and coupons.

The fast food chain apparently decided to offer mobile payments in an effort to attract the younger, smartphone-obsessed set. Unfortunately, the app’s limited features (you can’t use it to call in a delivery, if you’re wondering!) and lack of discounts as a perk make it a less convincing download than its competitors. But, hey, at least it can show nutritional values, so you don’t scarf down a Baconator without knowing it has 940 calories.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/22/wendys-app-mobile-payments/?ncid=rss_truncated

Tablet and e-reader deals of the week: 3.21.14

It’s now officially spring — that wonderful time of the year that leaves you feeling guilty for not going outside. Why not take a small, portable computing device with you? A selection of modestly discounted Android, iOS and Windows 8 slabs await your frugal whims after the break. Abhor reading LCDs in the great outdoors? No worries, we tossed in a more traditional e-reader for good measure.

If you still can’t find the sale of your dreams, you could always join us and add your favorite products to your “Want” list. Every time there’s a price cut in the future, you’ll get an email alert!

Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch

Price: $200
Regular Price: $230
Engadget Score: 85
Buy: Best Buy

When the Kindle Fire HDX landed last fall, it hit with a handful of new features, strong hardware upgrades and, unfortunately, a $20 price hike over the previous model. If you waited, your patience paid off: Best Buy is currently knocking $30 off the total, making up for the increased MSRP and then some. The 7-inch Fire has actually flirted with this price a few times this year, but if you’re money’s burning a hole in your pocket, it’s flaunting its steepest discount right now

Acer Iconia W4

Price: $250
Regular Price: $300
Buy: Amazon

Itching for a mobile device, but can’t bear to be away from the Windows desktop? Take a look at the Acer Iconia W4: a full Windows 8.1 tablet that’s small enough to fit in your jacket pocket. It might not have as many apps as Android or iOS slates, but for $50 off, it’s hard to go wrong.

Nook HD 7-inch tablet

Price: $107
Regular Price: $129
Engadget Global Score: 79
Buy: Amazon

The Nook HD may be getting a little long in the tooth, but at almost half off of its original ($199) purchase price, it’s a steal. It has a strong display, a good suite of reading apps and, thanks to an update last summer, access to Google Play. Don’t need a color screen? Well, maybe you should check out the…

Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight

Price: $80
Regular Price: $119
Engadget Global Score: 90
Buy: Amazon

There may be a new Nook color on the way, but the GlowLight might be the last of Barnes Noble’s e-paper line. Even so, it’s a solid reading device with a strong backlight and gleefully hackable software. Curious to see how it stacks up against Amazon’s glowing gear? You can see the full lineup for yourself right here.

iPad mini with Retina display

Price: $370
Regular Price: $400
Engadget Score: 92
Buy: Best Buy

If you’re still having trouble picking between the iPad mini with Retina display and the iPad Air, maybe this will sway you: Our price drop tool found a $30 price drop on the former. Not only is it a solid deal, but it’s also one of the lowest prices the device has seen since it launched last year. Check out the full run down — including specs, price history and device comparison — in our product database.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/21/tablet-and-e-reader-deals-of-the-week-3-21-14/?ncid=rss_truncated

Leaked documents detail how and why NSA targets network admins

With the amount of NSA-related information that’s been leaked to the press, one may wonder if the feds will have anything new to share whenever the agency’s first transparency report releases. The latest info is that the NSA was targeting foreign network administrators to gain access to the networks they control, as late as 2012. Edward Snowden gave The Intercept a handful of screengrabs from an internal agency message board that, among other things, detail how the NSA can monitor calls and emails moving through a foreign telco’s network simply by having access to the system admin’s PC. The steps for that apparently include grabbing the admin’s IP address, and from there hacking the user’s Facebook or web-mail accounts to gain full access to their computer via surveillance malware.

The postings were supposedly written by the author of last October’s Tor network attack-report, and go on at length describing his or her dream to build a master list of system admins that would span the globe. What good would that do? Well, it’d enable the agency to launch an attack once an “extremist/terrorist or government official” uses the network an admin oversees. There are also step-by-step instructions for attacking an admin’s computer through its network router using Telnet, the agency’s SIGINT tools as well as the Quantum hacking-platform.

The posts say nothing about how the NSA would sidestep inadvertently hacking system admins in the US either, or even system admins working for foreign companies on domestic soil. Be sure to check the source links for the full story, but don’t the playful tone of the posts distract you from the real issue: the government was, and could possibly still be, persistently monitoring civilians who’ve done nothing wrong in the off-chance that an enemy of the state could log on to their network.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/21/nsa-system-admin-hacking/?ncid=rss_truncated

Google makes Gmail more secure in light of NSA snooping

gmail-new-compose-window

Your Gmail inbox may well be full of chain letters and kitten photos, but Google just announced two security changes that’ll help keep prying eyes away from all your important messages. From now on, Google will always use a secure HTTPS connection when you’re checking or firing off emails. You may remember that Google made such secure browser connections the default back in early 2010, but you always had the option to disable HTTPS if you really believed in the security of your network. The second (and arguably juicier) change is that your messages will be encrypted as they get routed through the company’s many data centers. Google isn’t exactly being coy about why, either. It said in a blog post that internally encrypting those messages became a priority “after last summer’s revelations”… a not-so-subtle way of saying it doesn’t want organizations like the NSA poking around where users don’t want them.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/20/gmail-https-nsa-snooping/?ncid=rss_truncated

Volvo’s connected cars could make winter driving safer for everyone

With its latest research project, Volvo is hoping to make driving in inclement weather a bit less dicey. The Swedish automaker is testing a safety system that uses mobile data networks to relay icy road conditions from vehicle to vehicle. Once you hit a slick spot, the location data uploads to Volvo’s database and then an instant notification is sent to other cars nearing that area. As the outfit tells it, the in-car app will adjust the warning’s intensity based on your speed as well as the road conditions. Meaning that, if you’re crawling up the interstate at 5MPH through a whiteout, your dashboard won’t light up in the way that, say, someone’s would if they were doing 88MPH.

What’s more, the system will transmit the pavement-friction data to maintenance crews, so more (or less) salt and snowplows can be deployed in a given area, making the roads safer for everyone — not just Volvo owners. The pilot program is limited to some 50 vehicles for now, but the firm promises that next winter the fleet’ll grow “considerably.”

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/20/volvo-ice-detection-network/?ncid=rss_truncated