Jun 12, 2011

Netflix, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Square apps expose your data online for anyone to steal

Here's a little tip for app developers: encrypt everything, especially passwords. Security firm viaForensics fed some popular iPhone and Android apps through its appWatchdog tool and found that Netflix, LinkedIn, and Foursquare all stored account passwords unencrypted. Since the results were first published on the 6th, Foursquare has updated its app to obscure users' passwords, but other data (such as search history) is still vulnerable. While those three were the worst offenders, other apps also earned a big fat "fail," such as the iOS edition of Square which stores signatures, transaction amounts, and the last four digits of credit card numbers unencrypted. Most of this data would take some effort to steal, but it's not impossible for a bunch of ne'er-do-wells to create a piece malware that can harvest it. Let's just hope Netflix and LinkedIn patch this hole quickly -- last thing we need is someone discovering our secret obsession with Meg Ryan movies.

Android Market web store now checks which apps are compatible with your devices

Google has already made some tough moves to tackle fragmentation, but it's clearly still wary of the problem. It's just tweaked the Android Market web store to show users which apps are compatible with which of their gadgets. Of course, compatibility screening was already in place for users who accessed the Market from within their device, but this update should still be of use to those who surf the web store, especially if they're rocking multiple handsets or a phone-plus-tablet combo.

MIT develops “refuelable” liquid batteries for EV applications

Although lithium-ion batteries are seen as the future of electric vehicles, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a new battery technology that could completely revolutionize the automotive industry.

As it stands, the two biggest hurdles facing electric vehicles are costs and range. However, MIT’s newly developed semi-solid flow cell battery technology could make those worries a thing of the past.
Dubbed ‘Cambridge crude’, the new technology essentially suspends a typical battery’s positive and negative electrodes in a liquid electrolyte. The energy stored in that liquid can be accessed by pumping the fluid through the system.
Although flow batteries have been around for a while, MIT’s design differs in that it is much more energy dense. In fact, MIT says its design provides a 10-fold improvement in energy density over present liquid flow-batteries, thanks to the use of lithium-ion chemistry.
More importantly to the auto industry, MIT estimates that its semi-solid flow cell can be produced at about half the cost of conventional lithium-ion battery technology. The liquid battery technology also requires about 50 percent less physical space than comparable lithium-ion batteries.
Cambridge crude can be recharged like a normal battery, but also has one distinct advantage – when its energy has been depleted, the fluid can removed and replaced with fully charged liquid. That would give EV drivers the ability to “refuel” their vehicles like a typical car, and could potentially solve the range issues associated with EVs.
MIT expects to have a fully-functioning prototype system ready to be “engineered for production as a replacement for existing electric-car batteries” by late 2013.


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