Weekend news round-up: Apple may buy Tesla, Kickstarter hacked

17 Feb 2014

Tesla S image via Wikimedia Commons

Our round-up of the weekend’s top tech news reveals that Apple may take on bigger risks than smartphones and medical devices and has been mulling the acquisition of Tesla, Kickstarter has been hacked, and Office for iPad is on the way.

Apple’s future growth engines

Apple sees its future not only in medical devices but cars, too, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“A source tells The Chronicle that (Apple’s mergers and acquisitions chief Adrian) Perica met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Cupertino last spring around the same time analysts suggested Apple acquire the electric car giant. A spokeswoman for Tesla declined to comment. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

“The newspaper has also learned that Apple is heavily exploring medical devices, specifically sensor technology that can help predict heart attacks. Led by Tomlinson Holman, a renowned audio engineer who invented THX and 10.2 surround sound, Apple is exploring ways to predict heart attacks by studying the sound blood makes as it flows through arteries.

“Taken together, Apple’s potential forays into automobiles and medical devices, two industries worlds away from consumer electronics, underscore the company’s deep desire to move away from iPhones and iPads and take big risks.”

Kickstarter hacked

The Verge reported that crowdfunding player Kickstarter has become a victim of hacking, with data stolen from an unknown number of customers.

“Hackers breached Kickstarter’s defences and stole the information of an unspecified number of customers, the company disclosed today. The company learned of the breach on Wednesday from law-enforcement officials, and quickly resolved the breach, Kickstarter said. It did not disclose how the breach occurred.

“No credit-card data was accessed, the popular crowdfunding site said, but hackers did gain access to usernames, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords. The company recommends that all users create new passwords for their accounts and any other accounts that use the same password.”

Office for iPad: it’s coming

The long-fabled Office for iPad is coming, and it may be here sooner than most people think. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reported that Microsoft Office on iPad – code-named ‘Mirimar’ –  is likely to make it to market ahead of Microsoft’s touch-first version of Office (code-named ‘Gemini’).

“Microsoft officials have acknowledged, in a somewhat roundabout way, that it exists and is coming. Last we heard, it sounded from ex-CEO Steve Ballmer that it was going to arrive some time after Microsoft’s own touch-first, ‘Gemini’ implementation of Office. Gemini is Microsoft’s Metro-Style/Windows Store versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

“But I hear Ballmer and the senior leaders of the company may have had a change of heart towards the end of last year. According to one of my contacts, Ballmer OK’d the suggestion by the Office team that they’d bring Office for iPad to market as soon as it was ready, even though that would likely mean before the Windows 8 version. I’m hearing that new date for Office for iPad is some time in the first half of calendar 2014. (My sources last summer were hearing Office for iPad wouldn’t debut until fall 2014.)”

Extreme porn?

After introducing porn filters, the UK government is shifting its attention to expanding the filters to include ‘extremist’ content, according to TechDirt.

“The UK government’s futile and ham-fisted attempts to purge the internet of all of its rough edges and naughty bits are about to see international escalation. The country is only really just kicking off its campaign to impose porn filters that not only often don’t work, but also have so far managed to accidentally block numerous entirely legal and useful websites, including technology news sites like Slashdot, digital rights groups like the EFF, rape counselling websites, and more. (Prime Minister) David Cameron’s government has long-stated they want this filtering to eventually extend to websites deemed ‘extremist’ by the government, and it appears that new proposals being drafted hope to make that a reality sooner rather than later.”

Cyberattacks: welcome to the new normal

Some 200-400Gbps attacks are the going to be the new normal, warned Krebs on Security at the weekend.

“At issue is a seemingly harmless feature built into many internet servers known as the network time protocol (NTP), which is used to sync the date and time between machines on a network. The problem isn’t with NTP itself, per se, but with certain outdated or hard-coded implementations of it that attackers can use to turn a relatively negligible attack into something much, much bigger.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years