UK Spy Agency Makes Cryptography App for Children

To teach secondary students about cryptography, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in the United Kingdom has released an Android app which is “fun, free and educational”.

Smartphone appThe Cryptoy app will help children understand basic techniques on encryption and create encoded messages. It does not requires any special permission to access confidential information on Android devices.

The British Government hopes that Cryptoy will help them find the next generation of cyber-spies.
“[Cryptoy is a] creative solution in the hunt for expertise, but with a 21st century spin”, said Francis Maude who is the British Minister for cabinet office.

GCHQ, which is considered the British equivalent of the United States’s National Security Agency, says that an iOS version of the app will be available next year in 2015. As well as revising the history of cryptography, the app covers both the theory and practice of the subject. It targets Key Stage 4 students.

The idea for the app was first developed as a test project for the Cheltenham Science Festival by industrial placement students from GCHQ. However, due to growing interest from teachers, GCHQ was persuaded to make it publicly available.

Examples of cryptography used in the Android app are from an “earlier era”, as stated by the spy agency, but relevant to today’s techniques.

“Building maths and cyber skills in the younger generation is essential for maintaining the cyber security of the UK and growing a vibrant digital economy,” said GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan.

Hannigan described the spy app as a “colourful, interactive way” for students and teachers to explore the complex world of cryptography.

The app is now available to download and compatible with versions of Android 4.1 and above.

Hackers of Sony Pictures make 9/11 terrorist threat against opening of “The Interview”

The Sony Pictures hacker group which call themselves the “Guardians of Peace” have now made a terrorist threat against opening of the controversial film “The Interview”.

Sony Hack ContinuesThe group has also posted the first entry of its “Christmas Presents” as promised on Tuesday, which is the personal email box of Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Pictures.

A warning was also posted to those who planned to go and see The Interview, which releases on the 25th of December, of terrorist threats reminiscent of 9/11.

A message was posted on Pastebin and other text-sharing websites by an affiliate of the “Guardians of the Galaxy”:

“We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to. Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.

The world will be full of fear.

Remember the 11th of September 2001.

We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.

(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)

Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

All the world will denounce the SONY.”

Through legal demands made by Sony, the torrent file for the leak has been removed. Attorney David Bois has been retained by Sony to fight the spread of the stolen data by confronting media companies to not publish the data.

Letters sent by Bois to media companies ask them to not publish material from the leaks. The letter stated: “We are writing to ensure that you are aware that SPE does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading, or making any use of the Stolen Information, and to request your cooperation in destroying the Stolen Information.”

Finally – Android Users Now Get Netflix Recommendations

Android users can now finally get Netflix Recommendations. A feature which was already present on iOS, PS3, Xbox, the web and some set-top boxes has now made its way to the Android platform.

Androids devices get recommendationsAs with other platforms, Netflix’s Social Recommendations on the Google mobile operating system allows users to publicly or privately share recommendations, with friends and family.

There are a few features which will be specific to the Android platform, as reported by Cameron Johnson, director of product innovation at Netflix.

“First, we’re taking full advantage of the rich Android push notification capabilities to add images and action buttons that let you watch, get more info, or thank your friend for a recommendation,” says Johnson.

The Android Wear technology can also enjoy recommendations. Users can receive recommendations on their smart watches as alerts, as well as, play content and thank friends for suggestions. While watching Netflix, wearers can access details on content they are watching.

Back in September, Johnson said: “You know that feeling when you’ve watched something really great, something that moves you or makes you laugh, and you immediately think of someone else who would love it, too? It’s the feeling of wanting your friends and family to enjoy the show just as much as you did,” Johnson said back in September.

Android may have lagged behind other platforms in getting the recommendations feature, but was first to receive Netflix’s retooled search. Android smartphones and tablets received visual search for mobile back in October. iOS versions were scheduled for release shortly after.

“[Presenting] the results in a grid of cover art allows the user to see more results at once on touchscreen devices such as mobile phones and tablets,” Netflix stated in October. “This visual presentation reduces the cognitive load, making it easier to find what you’re looking for.”

1080p video support for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, has been released by Netflix while iPhone and iPad users await improved search.

Support for new screen sizes by the company was triggered by the launch of the iPhone 6 series, according to Netflix.

In the new update, Netflix has delivered performance improvements and optimizations for larger screens to allow users to see larger imagery and more titles on their display.

Roku Adds “Barker” Channel For Spotlighting Channels

Roku has officially added a new “barker” channel to its library of over 1600 apps and channels. Apparently, the purpose of this new channel is to select a few particular channels into the spotlight every week.

Barker Channel added to RokuThe name formally given by Roku to its innovative new channel is “The Roku Recommends Channel.” The channel was initially offered in the United States. Roku claims the point of the new channel is to essentially find and highlight “hidden gems” within the streaming media player’s largely extensive channel store.

These highlighted “gems” will include channels about anything and everything such as TV episodes, movies, fitness and/or cooking videos, and even tips on manoeuvring through the streaming platform.

Roku posted on its blog about the new feature. The Roku Recommends channel is reloaded with a fresh set of channels each week. The company has taken on Ellen Fox to be the host of new “barker” channel’s segments. Ellen Fox is an actress who appears on both “The Rotten Tomatoes Show” as well as “Wizard Wars” on the Syfy channel.

The very first episode of the Roku Recommends channel is holiday-themed  and features content from both the Screen Dreams Fireplaces channel (a channel offering seven different yule log options) and the channel.

This newly offered Roku Recommends channel is being made available on all of the current version Roku streaming media player models and Roku TV models that were released after June of 2011.

The new channel offers Roku a alternate means of driving advertising revenue. The content for the “barker” channel is “editorially-driven” by the official team of Roku editors. A Roku official claims that the media streaming company utilizes an editorial process that locates and then spotlights the best content and channels available on the Roku player.

The primary purpose of the Roku Recommends channel is to essentially enable Roku users to discover the extent of all the entertainment currently available in the vast Roku library.

Comcast – Now Allowing Customers To Stream HBO Go and Showtime Anytime on Roku

If you happen to be a Comcast Infinity customer who also owns a Roku streaming device, you’ll be happy to hear that the two companies have recently made an agreement that will allow both HBO and Showtime subscribers to download and run the HBO Go and Showtime Anytime apps from the channel store on their Roku players. Roku updated its blog post with a confirmation of the deal on Tuesday.

Roku now streaming ComcastBefore this new conformity between Comcast and Roku, the cable access company had allowed its subscribers to use their mobile devices (i.e. smartphones and tablets) to access HBO Go, but not any TV-connected devices. Verizon Fios, ATT U-verse and DirecTV were just some of the many major TV providers who were already supported on the Roku when the agreement was ultimately reached.

Apparently, The HBO Go app has been available on the Roku streaming device since 2011. However, in order for users to actually be able to run the app, it had to be authenticated with the channel’s coinciding TV provider. Until now, Comcast had denied that authentication ability to its customers.

Recently Comcast has been looking into merging with Time Warner Cable, a TV provider who is already supported by Roku. This fact along with Roku’s complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may have led to the cable company’s decision to join the growing list of TV providers whose are already supported on the streaming media player.

Sony PS3s, Amazon Fire TVs and Samsung smart TVs are still on Comcast’s “blocked” list, although the cable company claims they are in the process of conducting product and platform evaluations for those particular streaming devices. They will likely be forming a similar deal with the cable company in the near future.

A spokesperson for Roku stated that company is glad to be able to bring the long-awaited feature to Comcast Xfinity TV customers.



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WhatsApp App Coming As An Web Client – Maybe

When it comes to mobile messaging apps, WhatsApp has a significant share of 600 million users. However on the web, the app is behind its competition. Popular messaging services like Telegram, Viber, Line and WeChat all have web messaging applications with the exception of WhatsApp.

WhatsAppAs Netherlands-based AndroidWorld reports that, WhatsApp could be looking to change that. It says that the company is possibly in the works for a web client for its native mobile application.

This speculation is supported by the discovery of a string of code in version 2.11.471 of the app, which mentions “WhatsApp Web” and logging activity of computers in and out of the client. Latest tracking activity in web sessions is also shown in the code.

Strings of code is not the only evidence found pointing towards WhatsApp Web.

Pavel Durov, founder of Telegram, told TechCrunch earlier this week that WhatsApp tried to take over one of its web developers. This led to the circulation of rumours that WhatsApp could be working on a web client. has found through further investigation that WhatsApp has a dedicated domain for a web client.

“We still were curious about what the site was going to be and we have assumed some further research,” writes (translated) AndroidWorld. “The first guess was an instant hit; the website appeared to exist but is protected and can only be signed by a Google account.”

The blog says that the web client’s address has been around since Oct 30.

The Web client domain uses a Google account for sign-in purposes, instead of Facebook. The social network purchased the messaging app for $19 billion. reports that a technique similar to what Telegram uses will be used to verify the user’s identity.

In the December 11th version of WhatsApp, all references to WhatsApp Web were removed. Regarding a timeline for when users can expect the web client, the Dutch blog said that the evidence is “very limited”.