Weekend news round-up: Russian spyware hits Europe, Facebook returns to its roots

10 Mar 2014

In our round-up of the weekend’s tech news, Russian spy software rampages across Europe, Facebook goes back to its roots with the return of F8 after a three-year hiatus, and is Sony working on a virtual reality headset to compete with the Oculus Rift?

Russian spy software rampages across Europe

Reuters reported that a sophisticated piece of spyware has been quietly infecting hundreds of government computers across Europe and the United States in one of the most complex cyber espionage programs uncovered to date.

“Several security researchers and Western intelligence officers say they believe the malware, widely known as Turla, is the work of the Russian government and linked to the same software used to launch a massive breach on the U.S. military uncovered in 2008.

“It was also linked to a previously known, massive global cyber spying operation dubbed Red October targeting diplomatic, military and nuclear research networks. Those assessments were based on analysis of tactics employed by hackers, along with technical indicators and the victims they targeted.”

Facebook goes back to its roots

The Next Web reported that Facebook’s F8 conference will be held this year on April 30 at the San Francisco Design Concourse.

“The conference will be a little different this year: it will be squarely aimed at developers eager to learn how to best use Facebook, Instagram, and Parse to build, grow, and monetize their apps. The company is promising a full day of technical sessions and hands-on labs, open to more than 1,500 mobile and Web developers from all over the world.

“By having a pure developer conference, Facebook says it is ‘going back to its roots.’ The first F8 event, held in May 2007, introduced developers to the social graph. In July 2008, Facebook showed off Facebook Connect for websites, but also introduced a new profile design. In April 2010, Facebook unveiled social plugins (including the Like button), the Open Graph Protocol, Graph API, and OAuth 2.0 support. In September 2011, Facebook introduced the Timeline profile and a broader version of its Open Graph.”

Sony spells out the future for gaming

Also hitting the conference circuit to further its technological agenda is Sony which, according to The Verge is widely rumored to be working on a virtual reality headset to compete with the Oculus Rift, and has just revealed it will host a new session at the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, titled “Driving the Future of Innovation at Sony Computer Entertainment.”

“Unlike most presentations at the conference, this particular session has an extremely short description that doesn’t reveal what to expect, saying only that Sony will host a presentation on ‘innovation at PlayStation’ and ‘the future of gaming.’

“However, the list of speakers suggests that this won’t be a presentation that attendees will want to miss. PlayStation R&D director Richard Marks and his colleague Anton Mikhailov will be present. Marks developed the original EyeToy, and the duo teamed up on the PlayStation Move motion controller and the new PlayStation Camera for PS4. As part of Sony’s Magic Lab, they’ve experimented on a number of other ideas, including eye-tracking technology for the PS4.”

Is growth stalling for Apple’s iPhone 5c?

AppleInsider reported Apple’s iPhone 5s is about to breach the 20pc mark in overall iPhone marketshare and will soon overtake the venerable iPhone 4S, while the counterpart 5c model languishes at about 6pc.

Citing research from analytics firm Mixpanel it reported: “Apple’s flagship iPhone 5s accounted for 19.31pc of all active iPhones during the week of Mar. 3, and is on an upward trend to overtake the iPhone 4S. In fact, the crossover may have already occurred as Mixpanel updates its trends page for the full week every Monday.

“The most current statistics place the iPhone 5 at the top spot with users accounting for 32.65pc of the whole, followed by the iPhone 4S, which takes up 23.94pc. The three-year-old iPhone 4 is on the decline at 16.43pc, while the new iPhone 5c rounds out the top five with 6.34pc.”

Google about to make Android wearable

Reporting from SXSW, The Next Web reported that Google will soon release an Android developer SDK specifically designed for use with wearable devices.

It reported on a speech by Google’s SVP of Pichai Android, Apps and Chrome in which he noted that Google will lay out a “vision for developers of how we see this market working” as part of the SDK.

“From CES to MWC, wearable devices have been a major theme at this year’s tech events. Pichai said he’s particularly excited about the potential that the small, powerful sensors in wearables can bring to Android.”

Cold War image via Shutterstock

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