In the news: 5 tech news stories worth another look

Debbie Thomson

Debbie Thomson monitors technology industry developments and recaps five tech news stories from June 16-30 that stood out to her.

Stealing bases is a part of baseball. Stealing signals, though unsportsmanlike, even has a place in the national pastime. But stealing confidential information from a rival’s database?

That’s what Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals are accused of doing.

“Investigators have uncovered evidence that Cardinals employees broke into a network of the (Houston) Astros that housed special databases the team had built, law enforcement officials said. Internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports were compromised …” according to a report by The New York Times.

Federal investigators aren’t saying who carried out the hack. But the Times says “vengeful front-office employees” of the Cardinals are believed to be responsible.

Team employees likely had access to passwords of the Astros’ general manager — who is the former GM of the Cardinals.

“The attack would represent the first known case of corporate espionage in which a professional sports team hacked the network of another team,” the Times article says.

What else made this round-up? Read on:

Password problems

Are you familiar with LastPass? Cybercriminals seem to be — and that’s not good for the password-storing service’s users.

The company announced that its computer system was hacked, exposing email addresses, password reminder questions and encrypted forms of “master passwords.”

With the master password, a hacker can unlock the user’s entire file to grab all the passwords that access various accounts.

“The potential damage here? Identity thieves might suddenly have access to important information such as email accounts, social media, banks, hospital records — everything,” CNN Money reported.

If there’s good news, it’s that plain text versions of those master passwords weren’t taken. But as the CNN story says, it wouldn’t take much effort for a hacker to crack a “simple and common” master password.

Digital do-over

Who hasn’t hastily hit “send” on an email, then quickly wished there was a way to pull it back?

Google introduced the “undo send” feature on Gmail for this very reason.

According to Ars Technica, “the option, which now lives in the service’s ‘general’ settings tab, lets users pick a safety timespan between 5-30 seconds. Messages won't actually send until that time runs out, unless a user clicks the ‘view message’ tab next to ‘undo,’ at which point a message will immediately whisk through the Internet's many tubes and reach its recipient.”

The option previously lived in Google Labs for six years. The report says Gmail is the only webmail service to offer the capability.

Here’s Google’s post about the feature.

Working smarter?

Are you actually working smarter with your “smart” technology? ZDNet published three tips for professionals relying on their tablets to do their jobs.

“When using mobile devices as daily work systems it’s important to work as smartly as possible.”

  • “Up in the cloud” — Embrace one of the major cloud storage services like Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive. All are inexpensive and work across multiple mobile platforms.
  • “Handpick the apps” — The number of apps available to you can seem overwhelming. Take time to research which ones are best for your job duties. The article endorses Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint as “outstanding apps.”
  • “Beware the notification flood” — Today’s apps can alert you to just about everything. Identify which notifications are truly necessary, and deactivate the rest. Those disruptions can hurt productivity.

‘Star Wars’

The race to provide global broadband Internet access via satellites is on. OneWeb celebrated a big win with its announcement of a $500 million funding round. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the other key player in the race.

“The company has attracted investment from Airbus, Bharti Enterprises, Qualcomm, Coca-Cola, Virgin Group and others. It will use the funds to develop key technologies required to enable Internet access for undeveloped locations,” TheNextWeb.com reported.

According to TNW, OneWeb has plans for 65 satellite launches starting in 2017. The estimated cost of its project is between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.

Affordable broadband doesn’t come cheap.