’s Top 6 Posts for April 2014

by Jeff Wiener on May 2, 2014

April was a tough month for the Internet, with news not only of a critical vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, one of the world’s most popular web browsers, but the discovery of a critical vulnerability, now known as Heartbleed, in the very backbone of the Internet as well. While the tech world sorts out how to close these gaping holes in the worldwide web there was also news about the Internet of a different kind, that the FCC would be allowing tiered preferential broadband service, creating dreaded fast and slow lanes on the information superhighway.

On a different note, the mobile and telecommunications markets on both sides of the border saw some interesting leadership shakeups, with Mozilla enduring the short and inglorious tenure of CEO Brendan Eich, removed for his stance on gay marriage, and north of the border, new telecom player Quebecor watching its own CEO Robert Dépatie step down due to health reasons. A tumultuous month indeed!

1. Investigating the Threat of the “Heartbleed” Bug

The online world was staggered this month when security researchers discovered a critical vulnerability in foundational security technology in the Internet’s core infrastructure, ghoulishly dubbed “Heartbleed.”

While it may seem strange for companies, particularly huge multi-nationals, to use free open-source (publicly available and customizable) software for establishing a foundation for security and privacy on the Internet, that’s exactly what’s happened, and hackers have found a way to exploit an inherent flaw in it, meaning users’ sensitive personal information — including usernames, passwords, and credit card information — is now at a greater risk for being intercepted.

2. Microsoft Warns of New Zero-Day Exploit Targeting Internet Explorer 6 through 11

Microsoft is aware of limited, targeted attacks attempting to exploit a vulnerability in Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11,” states a security advisory for CVE-2014-1776 that Microsoft released in late April.

FireEye Research Labs pointed to this new zero-day vulnerability, which is actively being exploited in a campaign they call “Operation Clandestine Fox”. The security research blog didn’t provide campaign details, but they believe this is a significant zero-day, as the vulnerable versions represent about 25% of the total browser market: Internet Explorer 13.9%; Internet Explorer 10, 11.04%; and Internet Explorer 11, 1.32%, according to NetMarket Share’s 2013 data. In fact, the vulnerability is so significant that analysts are recommending that users disable the flash capabilities of IE or discontinue the use of the browser altogether until Microsoft can sort this mess out.

3. FCC Clarifies Plan to Allow Preferential Broadband Service

Misinformation, knuckling under to industry pressure, desperately trying to save face: While the individual faces may have changed at the Federal Communications Commission it always comforting to know that some things in the ongoing Net Neutrality fight will always stay the same.

Earlier this month news was leaked regarding the FCC’s forthcoming draft of its Open Internet regulations, a draft that would notably allow for broadband providers to establish fast and slow lanes, ostensibly charging a premium to companies and customers for access to faster Internet service.

The concern over paid preferential service is that not only will it harm competition, favouring the larger providers over the smaller, but that it defies the very nature of a free and open Internet: accessible for all, equal for all.

4. Citing Health Issues, Quebecor CEO Robert Dépatie Steps Down

Quebecor, the carrier that captured the country’s attention after the 700 MHz spectrum auction ended, is yet again in focus in the media: it announced its second (surprise?) change of leadership in little more than a year.

Citing health reasons, current Quebecor CEO Robert Dépatie will step down a year after he took over the role from Pierre Karl Péladeau. Dépatie became the leader of Quebecor after spending more than a decade at the helm of the company’s growth engine, its Internet and Cable division, Vidéotron. According to the company announcement, Dépatie will remain with Quebecor until May 30 to oversee the transition as Pierre Dion takes over his role.

5. Mozilla Boss Faces Heat over Opposition to Gay Marriage

When newly appointed Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich took office in early April he likely didn’t know is that most of the vehement opposition he would face early in his tenure would have nothing to do with technology. Coming under fire for his stance on gay marriage Eich was forced to resign a short two weeks after assuming the role of CEO.

The company has since named CMO Chris Beard as interim CEO as it attempts to recover from the firestorm of controversy surrounding the short and messy tenure of former CEO Brendan Eich. The hope is, of course, that Mozilla clients will quickly forget about the short-lived Eich era at the company, mitigating the effects of Eich’s political stance on the company’s technological future.

6. T-Mobile Challenges Industry to Abolish Overage Fees

For its next act the self-proclaimed UnCarrier T-Mobile wants to once again shake up the wireless world, this time challenging the mobile industry to abolish overage fees. As eccentric T-Mobile CEO John Legere explains, America’s fourth largest wireless carrier is “capping off several days of major announcements by launching a broad social campaign to abolish domestic overage penalties and begin a national conversation.”

But Legere’s attempt to right what he considers a grave injustice in the mobile world didn’t stop with his own company, as he has used this as an opportunity to drop the gauntlet against his competitors as well, challenging the likes of Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint to similarly abolish overage fees and embrace the freedom of the UnCarrier lifestyle.


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