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Daily Archives: Thursday, June 26, 2014

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NSA-proof messaging app Wickr gains £17m in funding

Wickr Top-Secret Messenger

A free app that promises to help you send surveillance-proof, self-destructing, encrypted messages has just secured $30m (£17m) in funding.

Wickr, founded in 2012, was developed by Wired 2014 speaker Nico Sell, the organiser behind the world’s largest hacker get together, Defcon. The company’s motto is Leave No Trace, and that’s exactly what Sell plans to teach the public, having already publicly rebuffed the FBI’s requests for her to create a backdoor into the app for them.

Unlike Snapchat, which proved earlier in the year to be neither self-destructing, nor all that secure, Wickr promises “military-grade encryption” it does not have the keys to, it erases unwanted files completely and requires no personal information from a user. It’s also obviously something the public wants, given one million messages are sent using the app everyday.

Sell has found some new supporters in venture capitalist Jim Breyer, options and futures exchange CME Group Inc and online games developers Wargaming. Sell told Wired.co.uk the new partners “support Wickr’s mission to bring secure, private communications to everyone and new platforms for the financial services and gaming industries”.

Many would question the validity of a totally secure communications system, with Tor Project contributor Runa Sandvik commenting this week that the public should not blindly trust socalled “privacy” apps streaming onto the market post-Snowden. However, Sell maintains that Wickr’s security is different — specifically, it exceeds the compliancy NSA demands of its own secret communications. “Our solution is different because we made encryption and security easy to use and transparent to the masses,” Sell tells us. “We don’t save any of your information to a server; we don’t know who you are, who you’re talking to or what you’re saying; it’s all encrypted and we don’t have the keys. We are a zero knowledge system and we considered security first when developing our application.”  (more…)

Thousands flee Ukraine for Russia; truce nears end

Residents of Residents of “Lugansk People’s Republic” and the “Donetsk People’s Republic” cross into Russia at the Russian-Ukrainian border in Izvarino on June 22, 2014.The border post was seized by the separatists from Ukrainian forces on June 13, 2014. © . AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL

IZVARYNE, Ukraine (AP) — Thousands of Ukrainians in cars stuffed with belongings lined up Thursday at the eastern border to cross into Russia, with some saying they felt betrayed by their government and vowing never to return.

A commander at the rebel-controlled border post south east of the city of Luhansk said 5,000 people had left by evening, joining a stream he said has continued unabated through a shaky cease-fire set to expire on Friday.

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have sought safety in Russia since the fighting began two months ago between government troops and Moscow-backed separatist fighters.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday called on Russia to support his peace plan “with deeds, not words” as the weeklong cease-fire neared its end in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said they too were looking for more action from Moscow ahead of a summit on Friday of European Union leaders, who will be considering a new round of punitive sanctions on Russia.

The summit also will see Ukraine sign a sweeping trade agreement with the EU that will bind it more closely to the West. It was the former Ukrainian president’s sudden decision late last year to back out of the EU deal under pressure from Russia that led to his ouster and triggered the current crisis.  (more…)

Ukraine warns on ceasefire as rebels agree to fresh peace talks

Pro-Russian armed militants of a so-called Pro-Russian armed militants of a so-called “Eastern battalion” taking part in military exercises rest at a camp in the forest near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on June 1, 2014. © AFP

Kyiv – Ukrainian separatists agreed on June 26 to resume peace talks to end the conflict in the east, but President Petro Poroshenko warned he might not extend a ceasefire beyond Friday night if their gesture was aimed only at buying time.

The move by the pro-Russian rebels, who have been fighting government forces since April, came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the second time in two days to discuss how to end the crisis.

In Berlin, a government source said the aim of the phone call, which Moscow said took place at Merkel’s initiative, was to find a way of prolonging Kiev’s ceasefire which is due to expire at 10 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Friday.

More than 420 people, including Ukrainian servicemen, rebels and civilians, are estimated to have been killed in the fighting, the United Nations said in a statement dated June 24.

Read the story here.

Kyiv Post

Poroshenko: ‘Russian society is full of aggression today’

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko delivers a speech to the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg, eastern France, on June 26, 2014.Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko delivers a speech to the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg, eastern France, on June 26, 2014. © AFP

Note: Here is the full text of the speech given by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko at the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg, eastern France, on June 26, as published on the president’s official website.

Madam President!

Dear Secretary General!

Dear members of the Assembly!

Dear participants!

Thank you for the invitation to speak to the Assembly.

I am grateful for the opportunity to convey to this respected forum the voice of the Ukrainian people from different parts of Ukraine – eastern and western, northern and southern, free and occupied.

Only a month has passed since the completion of the presidential campaign in the course of which I have travelled all over Ukraine.

I saw it as a peace-loving, hospitable to everyone and European state – not only by location, but also by vocation.

Ukraine has always been a hospitable home for all who came in peace.

Unfortunately, today this home is in danger.

There is a force that came to Ukraine not in peace.

Words like “annexation”, “separatism”, “mercenaries” emerged in our everyday vocabulary again.

What can we do to stop violence and prevent its transformation into a full-scale war?

Unfortunately, today, this issue concerns not only Ukraine. It concerns the whole of Europe.

Dear members of the assembly!

It all started last November when the previous government deprived Ukrainians of their dream refusing the European integration, not asking Ukrainians and not giving anything except corruption and disregard for human dignity. Ukraine got up and the Revolution of Dignity began. The people gained victory. This victory was gained with blood and numerous victims.  (more…)

Technology: Firefox OS Phone for $25 (£15)

Firefox OS Phone for $25

Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox Web Browser, intends to release a $25 Smartphone.

The handset, to be marketed in India at first, is intended to make Smartphones affordable to the mass market.

Two Indian companies, Intex and Spice, will build the $25 Firefox OS phone with a processor from the Chinese company Spreadtrum. The handset is likely to go on sale within next few months.

Step-up Smartphone

Mozilla are entering a market dominated by huge companies with Google’s Android OS holding almost 80% of the market.

However the Firefox OS platform doesn’t seem like it wants to take on the smartphone market directly. The market that both Mozilla want, for the moment, is that of consumers moving up from dated feature phones to low level Smartphones.

The Firefox OS handset is designed to be the next step on for users, with more functionality and capability than a feature phone, but at a far lower cost than a smartphone. Sure it won’t be jammed with millions of apps and fancy games but it will do the basics.

The initial idea is to upgrade the huge numbers of Indian mobile phone users on feature phones to Smartphones, keeping the cost down to $25 and offering the Firefox free OS means the phones are affordable for the mass market, which in India is huge.

ZTE OPEN Firefox Phone
Mozilla made its mobile OS debut last year in China with the ZTE OPEN, a Chinese-built Firefox OS phone that was released to compete with the low end Android Phones in Asia. After reasonable success with the $79 phone, ZTE announced they will be releasing the next generation of Smartphone with the ZTE- Open C. This $99 handset, Is likely to be marketed to a wider area including Latin America, Russia and Asia.

Ready to take on Android and iOS?
2014 Smartphones

The most popular low end Smartphones on the market are currently Android devices, however the handsets tend to be around the £60-80 mark. Mozilla want to get in below this and appeal to a market where the extra $10 makes a huge difference.

Breaking into this market will be difficult. At the end of 2013, Android OS had 78% share of smartphone users and Apple’s iOS had 18%. The rest was split between an ailing BlackBerry system and a resurgent Windows Phone platform. Firefox were pretty far off.

A number of factors will determine how well the Firefox OS sells. If they can hang on to the coat tails of Android whilst releasing some comparable app, Mozilla will have a chance, especially at the $25 price mark.

Ebuyer Blog


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