The Sizzle

Issue 127 - Wednesday, 13th April 2016 - Every Time


Blackberry gave Canada's RCMP a backdoor into all their phones
Blackberry phones use the same "global encryption key" to encrypt all the BBM messages sent around the world. The Canadian Royal Mounted Police (their version of the FBI or AFP), was given that key, by Blackberry, so the RCMP can view all the messages flowing between a mafia gang. The RCMP still has this ability too. This was all exposed during legal proceedings against the mafia members the RCMP were monitoring. Blackberry, get in the bin, now. Any veneer of security they had is surely tarnished now?

Microsoft is pissed off with all these secret US government requests
The US government has a law where it can ask an email provider to give it all the content it has about a user and makes it illegal for the provider to notify the user that the government is rummaging around in their data. Microsoft received over 2,500 of these in the past 18 months and is fed up with it. They've sued the US government and hope to get this law changed so that they're allowed to tell people when the government has asked to read all their email. You can read Microsoft's legal team's full reason for doing this and why they think it's important.

Leslie Benzies sues Sam and Dan Houser for $150m he reckons he earned working on Grand Theft Auto
The Houser brothers are known as the brains behind the awesome Grand Theft Auto series of games. The BBC even made a movie about them. But there's a lesser known guy, Leslie Benzies, who was actually the person that got shit done making those games, an integral part of the GTA franchise and deeply involved with the Houser brother's success. That fruitful relationship went to shit lately and Leslie has sued Dan and Sam Houser for $150m he reckons he is owed. It's messy, but Polygon does a great job explaining what the hell happened.

Apple leaks the possibility of paid App Store search results
A convenient leak (nothing leaks out of Apple unless it's intentional) has appeared on Bloomberg about Apple's plans for the App Store. Apparently there's a "secret team" of ex-iAd engineers working on making the infamous App Store suck less. One of these ideas is for developers to pay Apple to improve their ranking in search results. This is probably just Apple dipping their toe in the public pool, seeing if the piranhas nibble their toes or rip them off.

Motor Trend tries to imagine what an Apple Care looks like, fails
Motor Trend has gone and embarrassed themselves by trying to imagine what an Apple Car would look like. Reminiscent of now laughable pre-iPhone reveal mock-ups, Motor Trend got some car design related people into a room and got them to brainstorm what Apple's rumoured (but totally real) car, would look like. It looks like a mini van and very ugly. Jalopnik rips it a new one.


CopperheadOS, a more secure version of Android for your Nexus devices
Do you like Android but worry about it's poor security track record versus iOS? CHuck CopperheadOS on it. It's an Android ROM that's stock Android 6.0, but with a bunch of security patches applied and updated very often - as opposed to the device maker OEMs that only seem to push out updates every few months. Plenty of time for a vulnerability to be exploited on your device. CoppheadOS only works on the Nexus 5, 9 and 5X. Support for the 6 and 6P is coming soon and it'll only ever be supported on Nexus devices. (P.S: eGlobal is selling the Nexus 5X 16GB for $314, with free shipping this weekend)

A wi-fi and Bluetooth HAT for the Raspberry Pi Zero
The Raspberry Pi Zero is a tiny little computer, that's only US$5 (if you can find it in stock anywhere), which is cool and all, but it lacks any sort of network connectivity. RedBear has launched a Kickstarter campaign for what they call an "IoT HAT", a board the same size as the RPi Zero that plugs in to the GPIO ports and offers 802.11n wi-fi and Bluetooth 4.1! It's only US$9 + US$5 shipping (so around A$18-19) and when packaged with the RPi Zero, makes a very neat little, low power solution with wi-fi and Bluetooth built in, without the dongles sticking out. It'd be cool to grab a Pi Zero and one of these, together, including shipping, for AU$25. That would be very neat. Thanks to thrsn on Twitter for letting me know about this!

Free UNSW programming and security engineering courses
The University of NSW has made the Computing 1 - The Art of Programming course available online for free. You can learn the ropes of programming, from the relatively entertaining (for an engineering lecturer) and highly acclaimed Richard Buckland, any time, anywhere. UNSW has also made available a security engineering course (COMP3/9441), in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank, which Richard Buckland lectures too. Something to look at over the weekend if you get bored and don't care about footy.

Here endeth the sizzle (until Monday!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Like The Sizzle? Tell your friends!