Weekend news round-up: Cars can be hacked; the end of the web as we know it

29 Jul 2013

In our gathering of some of the top tech stories from the weekend, we discover that hackers have found a way to hack into car engines and control brakes and acceleration; US cloud companies have seen a 10pc fall off in contracts thanks to the PRISM revelations; and leaked packaging images point to a new low-cost device from Apple called the iPhone 5C.

The real story behind PRISM: the end of the web as we know it

The Observer has pointed out that while the press has lost the plot over former CIA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, the real casualty is the that the internet is finished as a global network and that a shadow has been cast over US cloud services.

John Naughton wrote: “Repeat after me: Edward Snowden is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about the hidden wiring of our networked world. This insight seems to have escaped most of the world’s mainstream media, for reasons that escape me but would not have surprised Evelyn Waugh, whose contempt for journalists was one of his few endearing characteristics. The obvious explanations are: incorrigible ignorance; the imperative to personalise stories; or gullibility in swallowing US government spin, which brands Snowden as a spy rather than a whistleblower.”

Lost business for US cloud firms

To prove Naughton’s point about the impact of revelations about the US’ alleged surveillance programme PRISM on cloud firms, Ars Technica reported on a survey that found 10pc of overseas companies have cancelled contracts with US cloud firms over PRISM.

“The revelations about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) broad monitoring of traffic and access to the data of cloud providers spurred by the actions of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden may or may not have hurt national security, depending on who you ask. But according to a recent survey by the industry organisation Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the exposure of NSA’s PRISM programme is having a very real impact on the bottom line of US cloud service providers in the form of lost overseas customers.”

Is the low-cost iPhone to be called the iPhone 5C?

Leaked photos doing the rounds over the weekend allegedly show what could be the packaging for the low-cost iPhone expected to come from Apple entitled iPhone 5C.

While not granting total legitimacy to the images, VentureBeat reported: “The iPhone 5C could theoretically be the name of the plastic molding version of the iPhone that we’ve heard about in previous rumours – most notably in different colours, such as radioactive vomit green. It would also line up with Apple’s history of releasing interim model iPhones between adding a brand new number, which it did with the iPhone 4S.”

Now cars can be hacked … while you drive

The London Independent reported how a pair of US hackers sponsored by the Pentagon’s research facility Darpa have demonstrated their ability to hack the computers in cars, remotely controlling the acceleration, braking and steering inside a Ford Escape and Toyota Prius.

“This new threat is thanks to the growing ubiquity of electronic control units (ECUs); small computers that are installed in the majority of modern cars in order to control a whole range of functions, from heated seats to emergency crash avoidance.”

Cloud security image via Shutterstock

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