Week in Tech: 2 Things You Didn't Know the NSA Could Do
Each Monday, I cover the tech trends, gadgets, business services, and apps of note. The goal is to highlight not just consumer flash-in-the-pan ideas, but actual developments that could impact your business. Post in comments if you spot other essential headlines!
1. Microsoft Surface 2
News has, ah, surfaced that the next iteration of the Microsoft tablet, the Surface 2, will be available soon. A Microsoft event is scheduled for September 23 in New York. I liked the original Surface when it first debuted because it could have paved the way for business apps, lets you run Office and Outlook, and made the best use of the Windows 8 tile interface. Then, I really lost interest. Alas, the first model never caught on. Maybe the next one will be faster, include more apps, and cost less?
2. NSA has cracked online encryption
For businesses worried about hackers stealing your data, know this: the NSA has likely already figured out how to break your security measures, which should cause some concern. New documents revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and now in the hands of British newspaper The Guardian show that the NSA used supercomputers to crack the code and also inserted "back door" code when they worked with major tech companies. The lesson: anything is hackable.
3. Instagram passes 150 million users
On Sunday, Instagram announced it had surpassed 150 million users for its photo sharing and retouching app. The Facebook acquisition seems to be helping, and this puts Twitter not too far ahead with 200 million users. For small businesses, the news is noteworthy for a few reasons. One, that a mobile app can amass such a legion of loyal followers. And, two, this hyperuser base can be parlayed into real dollars: reports say Instagram will also start serving ads.
4. Inappropriate apps present at Techcrunch Disrupt
This might not be the kind of news Techcrunch Disrupt wanted to generate. Fox News reports that two presentations started off the event today on a sour note. Without going into details, the apps were quickly labelled sexist and the event organizers apologized. Techcrunch now says the presentations did not go through an appropriate review process.
5. BlackBerry email can be intercepted by NSA
In another report related to the NSA, the Globe and Mail reports that BlackBerry emails and phone calls can be intercepted by the NSA. BlackBerry (formerly known as RIM), has trumpeted its security as the one vestige of hope for companies wanting to maintain security. The report says the NSA has been intercepting BlackBerry messages since about 2009. This is not what the troubled Canadian company needs.