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Google’s head of Android to oversee its most important products

From the Cnet Article ‘Google’s head of Android to oversee its most important products’ by   

By promoting one of his most trusted lieutenants, Google CEO Larry Page can spend more time focusing on the future.

Google’s most powerful product chief just got more powerful.

Sundar Pichai, a well-respected executive who oversees some of the company’s most important businesses, has been elevated to take on even more of Google’s core products, the company confirmed to CNET.

Pichai already runs Android, the most widely used mobile operating system in the world; Google’s Web-based software Chrome; and the company’s suite of apps, including Gmail and Docs. Under the reorganization, he will additionally have oversight over research, search, maps, the Google+ social network, ads and infrastructure, according to Recode, which earlier reported the news.

The promotion punctuates Pichai’s quick rise inside the company as well as CEO Larry Page’s desire to off-load some of his management duties to better focus on overall business strategy. While Google’s search and advertising business still generates $50 billion a year in revenue, some financial analysts fear its business is slowing. The company last week reported that paid clicks for the third quarter rose 17 percent from the same period last year. That compares with 26 percent growth the year before.

While Pichai is taking on those new responsibilities, Page will continue to directly oversee a number of Google’s divisions, including the YouTube online video service run by veteran Google employee Susan Wojcicki. Page will also manage business and operations.

Pichai, a well-liked figure at the company, has been a magnet for Google’s product teams. He has been at the company since 2004, managing the Chrome department. He added Google Apps to his responsibilities in 2012 and Android in 2013.

Pichai was the clear star of Google’s I/O developer conference in June — serving as the keynote’s master of ceremonies as Google showed off its latest developments in Android and Chrome.

Though Google confirmed the staff change to CNET, it declined to comment further or disclose his compensation.

 

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Google looks to test ultra-high-speed wireless Net technology

From the Cnet.com article ‘Google looks to test ultra-high-speed wireless Net technology’ by .

Google is seeking permission to test a high-speed Internet service that could be in your home before Fiber.

Google is seeking FCC permission to test new technology that could marry the speed of Google Fiber to wireless services.

In an application to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday, the tech giant requested permission to conduct tests in California across wireless spectra. Of particular interest, as noted by Reuters, is a rarely used millimeter-wave frequency that’s capable of transmitting vast amounts of information through the air.

According to the publication, the tests could signal the creation of the base technology for use in high-speed, wireless connectivity — part of Google’s plan to extend its reach in the Internet service provider industry. If so, this would obviate the need for underground cables or fiber. A fast broadband service beamed into our homes could act as an extension to Google’s slowly expanding Fiber service, which offers up to 1 gigabit in upload and download speed — but laying the groundwork is a slow process.

The application, signed by Google Access and Energy division chief Craig Barratt, documents a 180-day test the company says will provide “valuable insight into Google’s technology innovations and potential business plans and strategy.” Though much of the application is redacted in order to protect confidential data, the tech giant states that the purpose of the test is to “expeditiously test radios in a way that is likely to contribute to the development, extension, expansion or utilization of the radio art.”

The test, if approved, will run on three sites in California’s San Francisco Bay area. The filing says that tests will be conducted in the 5.8GHz and 24.2GHz frequency, as well as the millimeter wave bands of 71-76GHz and 81-86GHz, and will be based on narrow-bandwidth transmissions.

In related news, Google recently unveiled plans to back the construction of a new undersea fiber optic cable spanning from the Brazilian cities of Santos and Fortaleza with Boca Ratón in Florida. The $60 million project will hold data capacity of 64Tbps, which will help improve Brazil’s poor Internet speed.

This article originally appeared as “Google tests ultra high-speed wireless Internet technology” on ZDNet.

 

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Google exposes ‘Poodle’ flaw in Web encryption standard

An excerpt from the Cnet.com Article by Seth Rosenblatt ( @sethr)

Older Web technology continues to be dogged by revelations that show how insecure it is. A trio of Google security engineers proved that the encryption standard Secure Socket Layer can be circumvented thanks to a new vulnerability they dubbed “POODLE.”

POODLE is a new security hole in Secure Socket Layer (SSL) 3.0 that makes the 15-year-old protocol nearly impossible to use safely, said Google security engineers Bodo Möller, Krzysztof Kotowicz and Thai Duong in a new report published on Tuesday.

The vulnerability allows encrypted, ostensibly-secret information to be exposed by an attacker with network access. POODLE, which stands for Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (PDF), is a problem because it’s used by both websites and Web browsers. Both must be reconfigured to prevent using SSL 3.0, and POODLE will remain a problem as long as SSL 3.0 is supported.

While SSL 3.0 is no longer the most advanced form of Web encryption in use, Möller explained browsers and secure HTTP servers still need it in case they encounter errors in Transport Layer Security (TLS), SSL’s more modern, less vulnerable younger sibling.

The good news is that not much of the Web relies on SSL 3.0 anymore. A study by the University of Michigan shows that few sites rely on SSL 3.0 for anything. Less than 0.3 percent of communication between site and server depends on SSL 3.0, while 0.42 percent of the top 1 million domains on Alexa use it in even partially.

The reason that POODLE is a problem is that attackers can force your browser to downgrade to SSL 3.0.

If either browser or server runs into problems connecting with TLS, sites and browsers will often fall back to SSL. The problem is that attackers can force a connection failure which would force a site to use SSL 3.0, which would then expose it to hackers.

Because disabling SSL 3.0 outright causes compatibility problems for sites and servers, Möller recommended that administrators for both add support for TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV, a TLS protocol that blocks attackers from conning browsers into downgrading to not only SSL 3.0, but TLS 1.0 and 1.1 as well. It “may help prevent future attacks,” he wrote.

Möller said that Google Chrome and Google servers have supported this solution “since February,” which he said proves that it can be used without compatibility problems.

Robert Hansen, a browser specialist at the security firm White Hat Security, compared POODLE to another widespread vulnerability — Firesheep. Firesheep was a browser add-on that can grab unencrypted communications over the Web. While Firesheep could be defeated by using encryption, POODLE is a problem because the flaw lies with the encryption itself.

“[POODLE] is pretty bad,” Hansen told CNET, “But you have to keep in mind that it only affects a Man-In-The-Middle situation,” an attack where the hacker surreptitiously intercepts network traffic.

Legacy browsers are especially at risk, most notably Internet Explorer 6, which only supports SSL 3.0 and none of the encryption protocol that followed.

Hansen noted that there haven’t been any publicly-known attacks using POODLE yet, but he said it’s only a matter of time until there’s a tool to help hackers exploit POODLE.

“Once somebody creates a tool like Firesheep, then this gets more serious,” he said. “We possibly could see one by the end of the week.”

Research analyst Andrew Conway, who works for the Web and messaging security analysis firm CloudMark, highlighted the fact that an attack using POODLE would be “very difficult to implement.”

That, he said, makes it a bad exploit for your run-of-the-mill cybercriminal, but a potentially attractive one to “national security services” which could use it to spy on “high value targets.”

“The NSA, GCHQ and Russian and Chinese intelligence all have access to Internet traffic in and out of their countries, as well as the skills and resources to implement this attack,” Conway said. “I could imagine that it might be used against military and intelligence targets that use encrypted communications as a matter of course.”

Although Hansen didn’t specifically mention government surveillance, he did add that public Wi-Fi networks and Tor exit nodes could be likely spots to see POODLE exploits — which would fit with Conway’s analysis.

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US spying scandal will ‘break the Internet,’ says Google’s Schmidt

US government surveillance is destroying the digital economy, a roundtable of execs from Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other tech companies tell Sen. Ron Wyden

From the CNET.com Article by Seth Rosenblatt ( @sethr)

PALO ALTO, Calif. — The impact of US government surveillance on tech firms and the economy is going to get worse before it gets better, leaders at some of the biggest tech firms warned US Sen. Ron Wyden on Wednesday during a roundtable on the impact of US government surveillance on the digital economy.

The senior Democratic senator from Oregon took the floor at the Palo Alto High School gymnasium — where he played high school basketball well enough to earn a college scholarship for his court-side abilities more than 50 years ago — to discuss the economic impact and future risks of US government surveillance on technology firms.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who has been outspoken on the topic, pulled no punches with his assessment of how the spying scandal has and will continue to impact Google and other tech companies.

The impact is “severe and is getting worse,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to wind up breaking the Internet.”

Also on the panel with Schmidt was Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, another critic who became more outspoken of government surveillance after Edward Snowden leaked National Security Agency documents in 2013 that showed a much wider federal spying apparatus than previously believed.

“Just as people won’t put their money in a bank they won’t trust, people won’t use an Internet they won’t trust,” Smith said.

Panelist Ramsey Homsany, general counsel for online storage company Dropbox, said the trust between customers and businesses that is at the core of the Internet’s economic engine has begun to “rot it from the inside out.”

“The trust element is extremely insidious,” Homsany said. “It’s about personal emails, it’s about photos, it’s about plans, it’s about medical records.”

The documents leaked by Snowden indicate that the US government has been collecting a record of most calls made within the US, including the initiating and receiving phone numbers, and the length of the call; emails, Facebook posts and instant messages of an unspecified number of people; and the vast majority of unencrypted Internet traffic including searches and social media posts. Documents from Snowden show that the British equivalent of the NSA, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has a similar program.

Trouble abroad

In prepared remarks to open the roundtable, Wyden noted that he warned back in 2011 that people were going to be stunned and angry when they found out how the US government had been “secretly applying its surveillance authority” to its citizens. What he wasn’t counting on was the international backlash.

Some of the international pushback is in response to data collection by tech companies, not the US government. Europe’s new and controversial “right to be forgotten” law, which says European citizens have a right to ask search engines to remove any results that might infringe on their privacy, is causing headaches for Google. Critics contend that Google policies placed data collection over privacy.

The tech execs on the panel were most upset and scared about international efforts to impose “data localization,” as Microsoft’s Smith put it, referring to a burgeoning efforts by countries to force companies to build data centers based within their borders.

The cost of building data centers in each country that a tech firm wants to do business in could wind up destroying US tech firms, Schmidt and Smith warned.

Schmidt called data localization a “national emergency.” Tech titans have yet to go in-depth as to the actual financial impact data localization has had on them, but in addition to the costs of having to build at least one separate data center for each country that demanded it, data localization could also subject the data to local laws in a way that tech firms worry would erode user trust — and their ability to trade on that trust — even further.

Smith noted that 96 percent of the world does not live in the US, and that the American tech economy depends on convincing them that American tech services are trustworthy. “Foreign data centers would compromise American [economic] growth” and leadership, he said.

Abroad, efforts are already underway to force international tech companies to be more respectful of their own national interests — efforts that could erode consumer trust further, said Wyden. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said publicly that Germany is looking at European email service providers so that their messages “don’t have to go across the Atlantic.” The government of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is considering forcing US tech firms to build data centers in Brazil, if they want to do business with Brazil.

The biggest indication of the decline of America’s ability to guide the Internet, according to Wyden, is that Chinese officials told the senator earlier this summer that they considered the Chinese theft of US tech trade secrets no different than US government surveillance of foreign governments and firms.

Rebuilding trust

Part of reclaiming leadership in the digital economy since the Snowden document leaks has been efforts by tech companies to encrypt user data to protect it. Facebook has used its leverage to help convince tech companies to implement tougher webmail encryption standards, while Google and Yahoo are seeking to push the envelope of how encryption can safeguard webmail.

Panelist Colin Stretch, general counsel for Facebook, called efforts to encrypt user data “a key business objective of all of us.”

“I’d be fundamentally surprised if anybody takes the foot off the pedal of building encryption into their products,” he said.

Wyden reiterated his stance that he is not opposed to all government surveillance: He supports Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments from 2008, which allows the director of National Intelligence and the US attorney general to team up to target non-US citizens located outside the US.

While Wyden and the panelists discussed the need to revise American laws as the first step to regain the trust of American citizens and international governments, they didn’t talk about what to do with the data that’s already been collected.

Wyden told CNET after the panel that he had no plans at the moment to address the data that the government has currently collected.

“I have to reflect on that,” he said, but added, “The cat’s out of the bag. I want to get policies right for the future.”

“There’s no question that Washington, DC, does overreach well,” quipped the senator.

Wyden concluded with a promise to make Congress take action to preserve the digital economy.

“The message here today is that there is a clear and present danger to the Internet economy,” he said. “The reality is that we can pass a good bipartisan bill by the end of the year.”

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Yahoo and Google Working Together on Unified Encrypted Email For 2015

In light of the recent Mega Hack pulled of by Russian Cyber groups, it only seems intelligent for encryption to become more prevalent and looks who’s leading the way for email security: Google, no big shock there, and Yahoo! (insert collective gasp) and their working together. If your feeling dizzy by the news at this point be sure to place your head between your knees and take deep breathes because its really happening.

From Gizmodo.com’s Jamie Condliffe:

“Google has been working towards offering end-to-end encryption for Gmail. But now, it’s teaming up with Yahoo to make both webmail services encrypted in such a way that they both work together.

Yahoo has been a little slower to the encryption party than Google. But yesterday Alex Stamos, Yahoo’s chief information officer, announced at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas that Yahoo Mail will be encrypted end-to-end by some time in 2015. Not just that, it’ll be done in such a way as to make it compatible with Gmail’s, too.

Yahoo’s encryption, then, will mean that all email sent between the two services will be fully encrypted, end-to-end. Given that more than 425 million people use Gmail, and Yahoo Mail usage estimated at 273 million, that’s a lot of extra security.

When two such large organizations join forces on something like this, you know it’s important, and Yahoo has “the hope is that this is open and will be adopted by many others in the email ecosystem.” Which sounds like a great idea; let’s hope end-to-end soon becomes the norm. [WSJ, CNET] “

Google Fiber Is Coming to Overland Park

Gigabit Speeds for Overland Park Are Now A Reality

In case you hadn’t heard, Monday of last week, talks between Google and the City of Overland Park went from sour grapes to sweet nectar for OP residents as an agreement was made to bring the high speed Google Fiber to the area. It is only in the planning phase but this could be huge.

So what does this mean for the residents of Overland Park? How about blazing fast speeds for around the same price as the underpowered packages being offered by Comcast, TWC, and AT&T. For $70 a month subscribers can opt for gigabit high speed internet or can get up to 5mb free for up to 7 years with a deposit of $30-$300 (depending on area).

With speeds that fast you can now purchase and download an entire album in less than 10 seconds and a full length HD film in less than 3 minutes. Now to be upfront and honest Google can only provide gigabit speed over it’s own network so expect a drop in speeds but speeds will still be well over what you may be used to already. Watch out for Sign Up Dates!

Now would be a great time to have your computer cleaned and repaired in preparation for blazing fast speeds.

 

 

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Google Search Real Vs Ads

Google Search Real vs Ads

So if  you ever find yourself in the need of software support from a specific vendor, let’s say AVG for example, you may be tempted to perform a Google search for their customer/technical support number. There’s just one problem, you called customer support and got a gentleman/woman with an accent and after a long phone call they tell you they can fix your computer if you sign up and pay for a “life long” service agreement ranging from $299-$999. Hopefully by this point you have smelt the fishiness of the offer and know that you are being taken. So how did you get here? Simply put you fell for a purchased ad space listing like this one:

 addvsreal Click the image to enlarge.

They first two results are in fact ads, how do you know? Look at the green text, in both ads AVG is behind the .com/ address versus the first real result that reads as AVG.com/… That’s Real.

 

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Googles latest offering is a piece of cardboard?

Google’s Latest Offering is a Piece of Cardboard?

Well, yes and no. You may have already seen images of the Google Cardboard™ floating around on the internet if not click here. Using the free demo app available for Android 4.1 and later,  Google Cardboard™ creates a VR headset that is sensitive to your head movement and moves the images on screen accordingly. The headset app uses full mot uses full motion tracking for movement,  2 magnets to trick the compass of your phone to act as a mouse click, and the images are 3D. My favorite feature in the Cardboard™ App is Google Earth, it was there, through the app, I flew through Bryce Canyon in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

Unlike Facebook’s Oculus Rift, which was purchased for $2 Billion dollars and will cost consumers $350, Google’s Cardboard™ is roughly $20 in parts including s&h and its viewer template is available in both a printout and laser cutter format free of charge so all of us DIY’ers out there can build it at home. Is this a stab at Facebook or is it Google trying to get developers excited about VR and augmented reality technologies? I’d say a little at both.

If you’d like to make your own Cardboard™ headset Click HERE. Google has included parts links on their page.

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Google Mastery L33t Skillz

So you think your a Google master?

Think again, with these few tips you can utilize Google’s search potential to the max.  Here are just a couple of tips from America’s Digital Goddess, Kim Komando, that will get the most out of your Google searches.

1. Special searches allow you to get the weather, check flight status or  track a package, you can do currency exchanges on the fly.

2.  Wanna do a reverse image search to avoid being catfished. Go to your Google home page and then click Images. You can click the little camera icon and either drag and drop a photo or upload one from your computer. -Directly from link posted below.

3. Gags and Games abound from the fine folks at Google. Search Google for French Military Victories and hit the I’m Feeling Lucky Button to get a parody search result that says ” oops did you mean French Military Defeats” as if you mis-keyed your entry.

Poke around and feel free to explore more fun thing at Kim’s original post HERE