TIME Security

Watch: What You Need to Know About the POODLE Bug

Third security flaw discovered this year, but researchers say it's not as powerful as Heartbleed

The POODLE bug may sound silly, but it can cause some serious damage.

POODLE, which stands for Padding Oracle on Downloaded Legacy Encryption, makes it possible for hackers to snoop on a user’s web browsing. The problem is an 18-year-old encryption standard, known as SSL v3, which is still used by older browsers like Internet Explorer 6.

SSL protects data exchanged between a website and user, indicated by a green pad lock icon. If you’re a home user, don’t panic — you’re not at high risk. But, just to be safe, one solution is to upgrade your web browser.

TIME Video Games

Fixing What’s Wrong With Gamergate Starts With You

Whatever you think about games, game journalism or recent critiques of the way video games treat women, you have an obligation to be respectful in debates, and it's a shame we still have to say that.

This is how far we have to go: the Entertainment Software Association, a U.S. video game trade association and sometime D.C. lobbyist group, is now having to remind us that threatening to do violent harm to someone is the opposite of okay.

“Threats of violence and harassment are wrong,” an ESA spokesperson told the Washington Post Wednesday. “They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community—or our society—for personal attacks and threats.”

Read those words again, slowly, because they are a measure of the distance that remains between right here and now, and the point at which our species practices general civility in all its forms of communication, where human beings can depend on each other not to be cruel, condescending, vicious and in some instances even homicidally hostile over cultural disagreements. It should be as shocking as some of these threats that in 2014, someone has to utter the words “harassment is wrong.”

And yet at least three women who work in the games industry have had to temporarily leave their homes after being threatened with horrific acts of violence, simply because they said something someone else found disagreeable. Critic Anita Sarkeesian, known for her video series deconstructing female tropes in video games, just canceled her appearance at Utah State University after someone threatened “the deadliest shooting in American history” if she was allowed to speak. (The university deemed the presentation safe to proceed after consulting with local law enforcement, but can you blame anyone so threatened?)

The locus of all this animus in recent months is a so-called movement known as “Gamergate,” another neologistic slogan born of the infamous 1970s political scandal whose tendrils have circumnavigated space-time to motivate people to lazily append and then rally behind an egress descriptor glommed onto a vague reference label. Like the Tea Party, Gamergate may have been forged with something like an original central purpose: in its case, ostensibly reforming perceived corruption in “games journalism.” But as some of its supporters began violently threatening women who wrote about the topic, it quickly snowballed into something far messier and treacherous, a perplexing mass of conflicting idea-vectors, vitriol-filled social media assaults and online forum-filled cascades of general thuggery.

In a recent Salon article celebrating Richard Dawkins’ slight backpedaling on religion, the site references an interview with the evolutionary biologist, in which Dawkins says “There is a kind of pseudo-tribalism which uses religion as a label.” He’s talking about The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), reacting to a question about what could motivate a group to acts of utter barbarism like the beheadings for which ISIS is now infamous.

“Pseudo-tribalism” summarizes nicely. Swap “religion” for “Gamergate,” specifically for those using the term to denigrate and terrorize women, and you have the analogue. That well-meaning proponents of Gamergate have utterly failed to wrangle the slogan back from these bomb-throwers means it’s time to abandon it, to find a better way to prosecute concerns about journalistic corruption, and to wade civilly into the intellectual debate about female tropes in games.

Whatever you think of Sarkeesian’s thoughts on games and those tropes—and it should go without saying that there is room for civil debate about any critic’s thoughts on anything—there’s no room in such a debate for harassment, libel, slander, rape threats, death threats, posting intimate photos of someone without consent, outing their geographic location to intimidate them and so forth. Harassment is not debate. Harassment ends debates. It’s antithetical to dialogue, and, assuming you’re not so aberrant or sociopathic that you can’t tell the difference, isn’t meaningful dialogue what you’re after?

This is how you change the debate, and it has to happen before dialogue starts, before you even get to the level of worrying about semantic contentiousness over whether the label “gamer” is forever or forever stultified. In logic debates, there’s a thing known as the ad hominem fallacy. Ad hominem is Latin for “to the person.” It means to attack someone personally–and irrelevantly–instead of debating the actual idea or claim or argument. The litmus test is this: after you’ve typed out your comment or message board post or social media screed, does it violate this fallacy? If so, that’s what the delete button’s for.

If you don’t care about respecting someone else’s right to disagree with you, if all you want is to cause harm for some twisted sense of catharsis, what can I say but that you’re doing something that’s the opposite of noble, the opposite of productive, the opposite of moving the ball down the field in whatever direction you think is important–and when you escalate harassment to the level of violence, it’s the very definition of psychopathic.

What I find most depressing about any of this isn’t the state of journalism (it’s hardly just “games journalism,” folks) or what men think about women and women about men. It’s that as human beings in 2014, we still think it’s okay to pick up a keyboard or tablet or phone, venture to someone else’s online space, pull out our weaponized words, and open fire.

TIME legal

Why U.S. Sanctions Mean Some Countries Don’t Get Any iPhones

Apple iPhone Technology Embargo Sanctions
An attendee displays the new Apple Inc. iPhone 6, left, and iPhone 6 Plus for a photograph after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Bloomberg via Getty Images

A sanction a day keeps Apple away

Some 36 additional countries will receive shipments of Apple’s iPhone 6 this month, with over 115 countries on track to get the big-screen smartphones by the end of the year. But a handful of countries won’t be receiving any Apple products at all.

Among the Apple-less countries are Syria, North Korea, Sudan and Cuba, which face trade sanctions from the United States. That means the “exportation, reexportation, sale or supply” of any Apple goods from the U.S. or an American anywhere is prohibited in those countries, according to Apple’s global trade compliance. Add to those Apple-less countries several African and Middle Eastern nations, among other countries, which Apple’s sales locator indicates have neither Apple Stores nor authorized Apple product resellers.

Apple did not respond for comment on whether authorized distribution channels exist in countries that aren’t sanctioned by the U.S. but still present a difficult business climate, like Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Yemen. Technology and trade experts were reluctant to speculate why Apple may not penetrate these markets, but some pointed to a lack of demand or infrastructure.

In the map below, Apple-less countries appear unshaded:

The world recently bore witness to what happened when China, not subject to U.S. sanctions, was deprived of the iPhone 6’s initial release: a gray market exploded while rumors swirled that the “Chinese mafia” was storming Apple Stores around the world to collect iPhones for resell to high-income buyers.

That same grey market boom is happening in countries that do face U.S. sanctions, though for different reasons. While Chinese buyers were simply unwilling to wait for the iPhone 6’s official release in their home country, high-income buyers in sanctioned states are creating demand for a product that will likely never be sold in their country. That demand is being met by unofficial providers like the “Apple Syria Store” and “Tehran Apple Store,” two unofficial Apple distribution channels in the Middle East, for example.

A lack of iPhones in some countries, however, is only a problem for those countries’ wealthiest residents. Indeed, the iPhone craze overshadows a higher-stake battle: Access to less-hyped but important American technology in countries where such technology continues to be restricted.

The U.S. has put in place sanctions against Syria, North Korea, Sudan, Cuba and Iran to discourage those countries from abusing human rights, sponsoring terrorism or launching nuclear programs. While the sanctions were largely intended as economic embargoes, they also disrupted the free flow of information by severely limiting residents’ access to communication technology, advocates say. That technology includes not only electronics like Apple’s iPhone, but also American software and websites like Apple’s App Store, Adobe Flash, Yahoo e-mail and educational platforms like Khan Academy and Coursera. In many sanctioned countries, attempts to access those sites result in a “blocked” page. In certain countries it’s also prohibited to update whatever American software is available, leaving in place security vulnerabilities in countries where surveillance and censorship are commonplace.

“It’s still a fairly new issue, because it wasn’t really until the Arab Spring that people started to realize communication technology as a tools of free expression,” said Danielle Kehl, a tech policy analyst at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.

Observers first began to note the impact of U.S. sanctions on communication technology during Iran’s Green Movement in 2009, when protesters demanding the president’s removal used the Internet as an activist tool, according to independent tech policy researcher Collin Anderson. Within years, activists won over U.S. officials, who exempted certain technologies from American sanctions on Iran to empower protestors. That hasn’t yet been replicated in other sanctioned countries.

Anderson also said that pressure from the Iranian diaspora contributed to a decision by U.S. officials to issue a sanction exemption that allowed the export or re-export of “certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications” to Iranians. Apple then “quietly updated its compliance policy” to match the change, Anderson said.

“Apple is in an under-appreciated way one of the most responsive adopters of U.S. policies [that lift sanctions on technology],” said Anderson.

Apple had some market incentive to comply quickly with the change. Most of these sanctioned countries have significant amounts of mobile phone subscribers buying devices purchased from non-U.S. countries or companies, according to Anderson and data from the International Telecommunications Union.

Despite all those potential customers for Apple and other tech firms, tech policy analysts agreed the onus is on U.S. officials to invoke change. But that Apple and several other companies chose to engage with complex, high-risk sanctions in Iran shows that when the policies change, companies tend follow suit.

Still, Kehl said the other, risk-averse option for companies is to “over-comply” with Iranian sanctions, or to treat the laws as if they were complete embargoes in order to reduce their liability. That’s what happened in 2009 when LinkedIn blocked Syrian accounts and when Google blocked its code.google.com developer’s tool in Sudan.

Even Apple appeared to over-comply in 2012 when a Apple Store employee in Alpharetta, Georgia refused to sell an iPad to Iranian-American woman after he heard the woman speaking Persian, according to Jamal Abdi, policy director at the National Iranian American Council. “If [Apple] had reason to believe you were going to take an Apple product to Iran, or if you were going to resell it, [Apple] had to take action to stop people,” explained Abdi, who slammed the practice as discriminatory in a New York Times op-ed. The woman later received an apology from an Apple customer service employee, as NPR noted at the time.

The greatest pressure for change, however, is coming from within the sanctioned countries. Iranian bloggers have discussed banned technologies at risking of criminal charges, Sudanese computer science students have demanded more educational tools, and Syrians have called for U.S. imports of basic technological needs. Several non-profits have reported that sanctioning U.S. technology is highly detrimental to affected countries’ growth, while Abdi added that sanctions have prevented the electronic delivery of humanitarian aid or day-to-day monetary transactions because many banks are affected.

Still, tech companies have in recent years shown more willingness to engage government officials on matter of policy, particularly after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s surveillance leaks. Twitter sued the U.S. Justice Department earlier this month to disclose government requests for user data, while popular websites like Netflix, Mozilla and Reddit joined an online protest against the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rules they said could divide the Internet into “fast lanes” and “slow lanes.” In the most visible tech-backed activism to date, Wikipedia and Reddit “blacked out” their webpages and Google censored its logo to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was later shelved by its author.

Analysts are not expecting Apple to be at the forefront of the battle to lift U.S. sanctions. But as several organizations and advocates pressed for changes to American trade policy towards Iran, it would be hard to believe they would turn away Apple’s support.

“[Apple] is very quiet about these things—like either Apple is the best, or maybe the worst. But it seems like it’s the best,” Anderson said. “[Apple's] recognition of [the policy changes regarding Iran] was the first moral victory for everyone who had worked so hard on this.”

TIME apps

Facebook’s New Tool Lets You Tell Your Friends You’re Safe During an Emergency

Facebook

The app instantly updates loved ones of your status

Facebook announced a new app Wednesday that asks users in the proximity of a disaster zone if they’re safe and instantly notifies anxious loved ones of the user’s response.

The new app, Safety Check, was the brainchild of Facebook’s Japanese engineers, who noticed a surge of communication across the social network after the 2011 tsunami battered coastal communities. The new app streamlines that process by taking note of the user’s home city and reaching out in the event of a natural disaster in the area with the text message, “Are you Okay?” A “yes” will be instantly communicated out to loved ones via their Facebook News Feeds.

“We hope it’s a tool that helps you stay connected to those you care about,” Facebook said in a statement announcing the new feature, “and gives you the comfort of knowing your loved ones are safe.”

TIME Gadgets

The 4 Best Tablets Not Named ‘iPad’

With the iPad hogging headlines, it’s easy to forget about the rest of the market, filled with Notes and Tabs, Kindles and Surfaces. And that’s a shame. The iPad might be simple and elegant, but Apple’s rivals specialize in power, price and productivity — sometimes offering twice the features at half the cost.

With that in mind, we pored through hundreds of reviews to see what both experts and everyday users value most in a tablet.

In the end, four themes emerged: battery, price, hardware and productivity. For each category, we picked the best tablet you can buy that isn’t made by Apple. Time to think different.

Battery Life

In tablet reviews, customers mention battery life more often than any other feature. A bit of lag, for example, is a minor nuisance, but a dead device is a travesty.

Unfortunately, tablets aren’t smartphones, even if that’s what consumers have come to expect. You can get through a full day with a 5-inch phone, but a 7- to 12-inch tablet with (literally) millions of pixels? You’ll be lucky to make it through lunch. And yet, one device emerges from the pack of top-rated tablets: the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2.

At 13 hours (of constant use), Samsung’s Note Pro bests Amazon, Google and Sony, whose flagship tablets can muster just 12 hours each. Yes, that 13-hour figure might be a little inflated (these are manufacturer-reported numbers, after all), but getting anywhere close to half a day of battery out of a 12.2-inch, 247-PPI screen is just nuts. Even Apple hasn’t pulled that off.

Note that the Note Pro leads in both battery life and total pixels in this plot of popular tablets — a rare combination:

Our Pick: The Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

Runner-up: The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9

Price

Many consumers are intrigued by tablets, but they can’t stomach the $500-$900 price tag. Meanwhile, the truly budget options are usually three years old, featuring out-of-date technology that manufacturers can’t wait to unload on uninformed consumers.

So at FindTheBest, we looked for a tablet that was modern (no more than 1.5 years old), well regarded by the experts (at least 4 out of 5 stars, on average), and most of all, cheap.

Here, it comes down to the 2nd generation Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7. While Amazon’s device wins on specs alone, our overall recommendation is the Nexus 7, which received slightly higher review scores across the board. It’s a photo finish, but ASUS, not Amazon, wins this round. With Google’s recent Nexus 9 announcement, expect the Nexus 7’s price to drop even lower.

Our Pick: The Nexus 7 (2nd Gen)

Runner-up: The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7

Hardware Design

It’s tempting to assume that Apple has a monopoly on hardware design. Sure, you can beat an iOS device on performance and features, but no one can touch Apple when it comes to how the product looks, right?

Wrong. Your alternative is Sony. With a classy, sleek design that’s thinner than the iPad Air, the Sony Xperia Z2 is a feat of material engineering. At 439 grams, it’s also the lightest flagship 10-inch device on the market (depending on the final stats of the new iPad: this post went live before Apple’s October 16 announcement).

In the below chart, you can see how the Xperia Z2 compares to other popular ~10-inch tablets. (The size of the dot reflects the slight variances in screen size.)

Our Pick: The Sony Xperia Z2

Runner-up: The Sony Xperia Z

Productivity

In the world of tablets, productivity is a two-horse race. First, you’ve got the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, complete with a giant screen and built-in stylus. Second, there’s the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, a performance beast with internals that look more like a laptop than a tablet.

For casual consumers, the Note Pro is the right choice, if only for the well-rounded Android ecosystem of Google services and app selection. But for the working professional, it’s hard to deny the Surface Pro 3’s real-world performance. For an apples-to-apples comparison, just look at Geekbench scores. Geekbench performs benchmark testing for a wide variety of products across multiple device categories in order to compare real-world performance. Note below how the Surface Pro 3 performs compared to three other popular tablets:

For reference, consider that the most recent MacBook Air clocks in at 4,678 (multi-core) and 2,469 (single-core).That’s better than almost any tablet, but it’s still below the Surface Pro 3’s scorching results. Microsoft isn’t messing around here.

Yes, Windows 8 still has its foibles, and the Surface Pro 3’s various menus and gestures come with a sizable learning curve. But if you want pure performance and productivity, the latest Surface should be your pick.

Our Pick: The Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Runner-up: The Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest.

More from FindTheBest:

TIME Money

See How Tech CEOs Spend Their Money

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan pledged $25 million to help fight Ebola this week. Here are some of the ways other tech CEOs spend their money.

TIME technology

iPad Predictions, Then and Now

Apple Announces Launch Of New Tablet Computer
Steve Jobs demonstrates the new iPad on Jan. 27, 2010, in San Francisco Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Apple's first iPad was Steve Jobs' last iDevice

With Apple rumored to be unveiling a new iPad Thursday at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, it’s a great time to look back at the company’s very first tablet — which, notably, was also the last new Apple device presented by late CEO Steve Jobs, who passed away within 2 years of the iPad announcement.

When Apple unveiled the iPad on Jan. 27, 2010, TIME, along with other media outlets, didn’t greet it as revolutionary. Instead, we thought it was all too familiar. The iPad “looks and acts exactly the way the tech pundits predicted: like a giant iPod Touch or iPhone,” we wrote in our Jan. 28, 2010 story on the reveal. Nor was the iPad the first device of its kind seen by the public; the general concept of a “tablet computer” had been around for decades, and as that TIME article notes, “more than three dozen tablets and related devices were shown at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January,” several days before Apple’s event.

That said, Apple is legendary for its ability to create demand in a market where little was found before, as it did with the iPod. The iPad quickly became the best-selling tablet device, and it would take tablets running Google’s iOS competitor, Android, until 2013 to outsell the iPad in terms of raw volume.

What we’re seeing today, however, is flatlining demand for the iPad, perhaps because people don’t feel the need to upgrade their tablet as often as they do their phone — which, by the way, are devices that people still love, contrary to TIME’s 2010 comment that “with the iPad, smartphones have already begun to feel dated,” another prediction that missed the mark. Indeed, while Apple’s new iPhone 6 models are flying off the shelves, iPad sales are stalling.

Which brings us to Apple’s Thursday event, which should show the company trying to pour some gasoline on the iPad’s simmering fire. Even so, the world’s willingness to want an iPad has been proved — these days, the predictions these days are less about whether anyone needs a tablet than about the bells and whistles that might make someone want this one in particular: one of the most hyped rumors is that the new iPad will come in gold. And contrary to broader predictions about the iPad, this one will be tested sooner rather than later: on Thursday at 10:00 Cupertino time.

TIME Gadgets

Google Unveils ‘First-of-its-Kind’ Android TV Streaming Device

Nexus Player Google

Nexus Player will stream movies, music and in a "first-of-its-kind" twist, online games

Google announced a “first-of-its-kind” device on Wednesday that will stream content from Android TV to home television sets, marking the search giant’s latest push to make televisions a little more web savvy.

The Nexus Player is a hockey-puck shaped device that will stream movies, music and videos through Android TV, which includes partnerships with Netflix and Hulu. The player comes with a spare, voice-controlled remote that can take verbal search commands for movie titles or names of performers.

What separates the device from rival set-top boxes such as Roku or Apple TV is its ability to double as a gaming system. A gamer can switch seamlessly from playing on the television to any other Android-compatible tablet or smartphone, though the game controller is sold separately.

 

TIME Gadgets

6 Ways Apple’s iPad Could Change Dramatically on Thursday

Apple Unveils New Versions Of Popular iPad
An attendee looks at the new iPad Air during an Apple announcement at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 22, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Apple appears set to release the iPad Air 2 tomorrow, and it'll come with some major improvements

Apple is getting ready to make some major announcements Thursday in Cupertino, and there’s a lot of speculation about what consumers can expect to see. Among the litany of possible releases are Apple’s OS X Yosemite, a new iMac, a new MacBook, and of course, new iPad models.

That’s because the iPad is due for its typical October update, so there’s a strong chance Apple will show off an updated edition of the Air model. We’ve already seen photos of the iPad Air 2 that Apple appears to have accidentally released on its iTunes support website, so some of these changes may not come as a surprise tomorrow. In any case, here are 6 things that could make the iPad Air 2 different from its predecessor.

A Touch ID home button. Like the new iPhone models, the iPad Air 2 will likely use your fingerprint as an access code. That’s plainly visible on the leaked screenshots. (Note the not-so-subtle caption that says “Touch ID sensor.”) The Touch ID will save you the trouble of inputting your four-digit code every time you swipe on your iPad.

More storage space. Apple could ditch the 16GB storage space option on the new iPad and jump onto the 32GB and 64GB bandwagon, according to The Michael Report, a highly-cited tech blog.

Thinner than previous Air models. The iPad Air is already just 7.5 mm thin, but it’s rumored that the new model will be 0.5 mm skinnier than the current model.

Gold version. Several analysts and sources inside Apple say the next iPad Air will come with a gold option. The gold will be a more colorful option compared to the tablet’s usual silver and gray.

Better Camera. The current iPad Air has a 5-megapixel camera, but some reports say the iPad Air 2 will have an 8-megapixel camera. The front camera could improve from 1.2 megapixels to 2 megapixels, so that’ll improve your selfies and FaceTime sessions.

Faster processor. Apple upgrades its processor pretty regularly, and it would be surprising if the new iPad didn’t come with improved computing power. Its memory should also improve to 2GB of RAM. That means more apps open at the same time without computing issues.

Read next: 50 Must-Have iPad Apps

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