When 17-year-old George Hotz became the world’s first hacker to crack AT&T’s lock on the iPhone in 2007, the companies officially ignored him while scrambling to fix the bugs his work exposed. When he later reverse engineered the Playstation 3, Sony sued him and settled only after he agreed to never hack another Sony product.
When Hotz dismantled the defenses of Google’s Chrome operating system earlier this year, by contrast, the company paid him a $150,000 reward for helping fix the flaws he’d uncovered. Two months later Chris Evans, a Google security engineer, followed up by email with an offer: How would Hotz like to join an elite team of full-time hackers paid to hunt security vulnerabilities in every popular piece of software that touches the internet?
Today Google plans to publicly reveal that team, known as Project Zero, a group of top Google security researchers with the sole mission of tracking down and neutering the most insidious security flaws in the world’s software. Those secret hackable bugs, known in the security industry as “zero-day” vulnerabilities, are exploited by criminals, state-sponsored hackers and intelligence agencies in their spying operations. By tasking its researchers to drag them into the light, Google hopes to get those spy-friendly flaws fixed. And Project Zero’s hackers won’t be exposing bugs only in Google’s products. They’ll be given free rein to attack any software whose zero-days can be dug up and demonstrated with the aim of pressuring other companies to better protect Google’s users.
MORE: Meet ‘Project Zero,’ Google’s Secret Team of Bug-Hunting Hackers
The weirdest computer Google owns is a 10ft freezer housing a single chip. But is it quantum?
They say yes, and if they’re right, it’s a huge breakthrough.
MetaFilter is the little weblog that could, established in 1999 as one of the first community blogs. Over its fifteen year history it has expanded from a place to discuss interesting things on the web to include Ask MetaFilter as a community question and answer (Q&A) site, along with more subsections for things like music by members, completed projects by members, meetups among members, and most recently TV and movies.
While MetaFilter is relatively small (only about 62,000 have paid the one-time $5 for an account to date and 12,000-15,000 of those members come back to interact with the site every day), we have a great group of members, and I think we consistently have some of the best discussion on the web, with the sites attracting over 80 million readers last year. Our commenters are literate and thoughtful, and our site is watched around the clock by a staff of moderators. Despite the site’s modest stature its influence makes waves in the larger world (like mentions on popular TV shows: Tremé andMythbusters).
Unfortunately in the last couple years we have seen our Google ranking fall precipitously for unexplained reasons, and the corresponding drop in ad revenue means that the future of the site has come into question.
Matt Haughey’s Medium post about the shaky future of MetaFilter will break your heart and make you question everything you think you know about Google and advertising online. Go read it now.
But despite arriving on April 1, 2004, its webmail service was no joke. Google’s simple, browser-based inbox helped seed several ideas that have become so commonplace over the intervening decade, they practically define modern computing as we know it.
So happy 10-year anniversary, Gmail. Here’s hoping in the next 10 you’ll let us show inline GIFs in our email.
Google now owns a little piece of Apple.
Today, the web giant announced that it’s spending $3.2 billion to acquire Nest, a successful home hardware tech startup founded by Tony Fadell, one of the fathers of the Apple iPod.
Today, Nest makes internet-connected thermostats and fire detectors, but the plan is to extend its reach even further into the home. In a Google blog post, Fadell said that, with Google’s support, “Nest will be even better placed to build simple, thoughtful devices that make life easier at home, and that have a positive impact on the world.”
The announcement sparked much discussion across the web, as many joked about Google+ integration with Nest’s products and Google Ads showing up when you turn off your smoke alarm. But according to a statement Fadell delivered to TechCrunch, Nest will only use customer information for “providing and improving Nest’s products and services,” indicating it will not be used for Google’s larger advertising schemes.
That said, Google could certainly use Nest data to hone its online ads and other web services, changing its behavior according to when you’re at home and even where you happen to be in your home. The company’s Google Now service is already privy to such information.