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  • Android security patch 'flawed'

    Android security patch 'flawed'

    In July, a vulnerability that affected up to a billion Android phones was made public by software researchers. Google made a patch available, but security company Exodus Intelligence said it had been able to bypass the fix. Exodus Intelligence said the update could give people a "false sense of security". Google told the BBC that most Android users were protected by a security feature called address space layout randomisation (ASLR). "Currently over 90% of Android devices have ASLR enabled, which protects users from this issue," it said. ASLR makes it difficult for an attacker to plot an attack, and introduces more guesswork to the process, which is more likely to crash a smartphone than compromise it. 'Vulnerability remains' In April, another security company, Zimperium, found a bug in Android that could let hackers access data and apps on a victim's phone, just by sending a video message. The company disclosed the issue to Google and provided its own patch for the software, which Google made available to phone manufacturers. Details of the flaw were made public in July, after Google had integrated the patch into the latest version of Android. At the time, Google pointed out that there had been no reported cases of anybody exploiting the bug. On Thursday, Exodus Intelligence said its researcher Jordan Gruskovnjak had easily bypassed the patch and the vulnerability remained. "The public at large believes the current patch protects them when it in fact does not," the company said on its blog

  • Nest thermostat bug leaves users cold

    Nest thermostat bug leaves users cold

    A software bug that caused Nest's smart thermostat to stop working has left many users both cold and angry. Some of those affected took to Nest's own forum and social media to vent their anger about the problem. Nest said that it was aware of the issue and that it had been fixed for "99.5%" of users. It recommended that, for those still experiencing problems "performing a manual reset should help". It also published a nine-step fix. "We are aware of a software bug impacting some Nest Thermostat owners. In some cases, this may cause the device to respond slowly or become unresponsive. We are working on a solution that we expect to roll out in the coming weeks," it said in a statement. It did not say how many users had been affected.

  • US plans $4bn for self-driving rules

    US plans $4bn for self-driving rules

    A 10-year, $4bn (£2.8bn) proposal to bring self-driving cars to roads across the US has been announced by the Department of Transportation. The plan's stated aim is to implement consistent laws across all states and eventually to eliminate human error. "That is a possibility worth pursuing," said DoT head Anthony Foxx at the Detroit Motor Show on Thursday. The plans are backed by carmakers and technology companies including Google, Tesla, Ford, General Motors and Volvo. The move by the Obama administration comes after several firms complained that differing rules across the US were creating unnecessary headaches for those developing autonomous technology. 'Perplexing' In October, Volvo said: "The absence of one set of rules means car makers cannot conduct credible tests to develop cars that meet all the different guidelines of all 50 US states."

  • Can technology help tackle the world's waste crisis?

    Can technology help tackle the world's waste crisis?

    In Disney's 2008 animation Wall-E, the eponymous robot is left behind on a deserted Earth to clean up the waste mankind left behind. If the latest statistics are anything to go by, we're in danger of turning that fictional future into a reality. A decade ago, city dwellers generated 680 million tonnes of solid waste a year, says the World Bank. Now this is 1.3 billion tonnes, and forecast to rise to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025 - enough to fill a 5,000km-long (3,107 mile) queue of rubbish lorries each day. And the cost of disposing of all this detritus is projected to rise from $205bn (£136bn) to $375bn (£250bn) a year over the next decade. But could technology, which helped create much of this waste, also help deal with it? Methane munching Much of the world's waste goes to landfill sites, which only add to the pollution problem because they produce methane - a greenhouse gas and significant contributor to climate change. Mexico City's mammoth Bordo Poniente site generates 1.4 million tonnes of methane a year. But technology is helping to extract the gas and turn it into electricity.