Friday Link Roundup

Interesting things we found this week around the web:

Google has purchased smart thermostat and smoke detector creator Nest Labs for $3.2 Billion, a move that demonstrates that Google is ready to up its game on the Internet of Things. But perhaps just as fascinating as the news of acquisition, is everyone's reaction to it: The Verge discusses the disappointment expressed by consumers, investors, and privacy advocates over the deal, with fears that Google will stymie Nest's growth as it grows its own branded product line, and collect an overzealous amount of user tracking info in the process.

The Nest-related news isn't all doom and gloom, especially if you happen to be an employee of Nestor Inc. This Providence, R.I. company, which trades publically under the ticker NEST, had its stock go up 1900% after the Google-Nest Labs announcement,  almost certainly due to investors mistaking the ticker for belonging to the smart thermostat creator.


On the security front, security expert Brian Krebs has uncovered the malware that compromised the information of over 110 million Target customers, identifying it as a memory scraper that snatched credit card data from the memory of POS terminals before its encrypted and sent off for processing.

The source close to the Target investigation said that at the time this POS malware was installed in Target’s environment (sometime prior to Nov. 27, 2013), none of the 40-plus commercial antivirus tools used to scan malware at flagged the POS malware (or any related hacking tools that were used in the intrusion) as malicious. “They were customized to avoid detection and for use in specific environments,” the source said.

That source and one other involved in the investigation who also asked not to be named said the POS malware appears to be nearly identical to a piece of code sold on cybercrime forums called BlackPOS, a relatively crude but effective crimeware product. BlackPOS is a specialized piece of malware designed to be installed on POS devices and record all data from credit and debit cards swiped through the infected system. (Krebs on Security)

Where is all this malware stored, anyhow? As it turns out, the largest hosts of malware are cloud giants Amazon, GoDaddy, and Google according to a report from Solutionary.

The report claims malware producers use the cloud hosting services like Amazon and GoDaddy for the same reasons legitimate publishers use them.

The ease of website creation, low cost and speed of deployment allows malware producers to create and remove malware serving websites quickly, easily and cost effectively, allowing them to infect millions of computers and vast numbers of enterprise systems, according to the report. (The Guardian)

We mentioned in our 2014 Tech Trends analysis that tech wearables would be a hot trend this year, and a big contributor to healthcare innovation. Google is getting in on the game with a smart contact lens that allows diabetics to track their glucose levels.

We’re now testing a smart contact lens that’s built to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds. It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease. (Google[x])

Find any cool IT links this week? Tell us in the comments or Tweet us @NetopTech!

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