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April 25, 2013

Technology News Briefs — April 25, 2013

Google Joins Move to Replace Passwords

The Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance has gained an impressive partner.

Google has joined the group in its bid to launch an authentication protocol that will replace passwords, fostering a higher level of online security.

FIDO, which officially launched in February, is working to develop alternative methods to verify user ID at login such as biometrics which includes fingerprint scanners and voice and facial recognition and authentication solutions and communications standards such as USB security tokens, NFC and one-time passwords.

The group, which includes PayPal, PC-maker Lenovo, Infineon TechnologiesNok Nok Labs, Validity and Agnitio, is currently developing specifications and FIDO-compliant products that work with Internet services and with one another.

“Joining the FIDO Alliance is a great way to increase industry momentum around open standards for strong authentication,” Sam Srinivas, who leads information security efforts for Google, said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our current development work on strong, universal second-factor tokens as part of a new FIDO Alliance working group.”

Also joining the board along with Google are chip maker NXP and input device maker CrucialTec.

Google will have a lot to offer the group, considering two of its security experts, Google vice-president of security Eric Grosse and engineer Mayank Upadhyay, recently released a report on the feasibility of using Smartphones or even smartcard embedded jewelry to prove identity online.

The pair is currently testing YubiKey, a small USB stick that employs extremely secure “one-time pad” cryptography to sign in to Google services. They are hoping similar authentication technology will work wirelessly on all of a user’s online accounts.

Tickets for Apple’s WWDC 2013 On Sale Today

Apple will hold its World Wide Developers conference in San Francisco June 10-14, the company has announced.

The five-day conference is a chance for developers to learn about future versions of iOS and OS X so they are better able to create compatible apps for the updated operating systems.

The conference will feature more than 100 technical sessions headed by more than 1,000 Apple engineers as well as hands-on labs to help developers integrate new technologies.

“We look forward to gathering at WWDC 2013 with the incredible community of iOS and OS X developers,” senior vice-president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller said in a press release.

“Our developers have had the most prolific and profitable year ever, and we’re excited to show them the latest advances in software technologies and developer tools to help them create innovative new apps. We can’t wait to get new versions of iOS and OS X into their hands at WWDC.”

Tickets, which go on sale today, can be purchased here.

Amazon to Release Own Set-Top Box: Sources

Amazon is planning to release a television set-top box that will stream video over the Internet into customers’ homes, sources “with knowledge of the matter” have told Bloomberg.

According to the report, the device, which is to be released later this year, will offer access to Amazon’s growing video services, including the Amazon Video on Demand store. No price was mentioned, however.

If Bloomberg’s sources are accurate, the move would put Amazon in direct competition with Roku and Apple TV as well as other streaming services.

Also, by manufacturing its own set-top box, the eCommerce giant has a golden opportunity to get more of its content in front of customers. As the report pointed out, it also gives app developers an incentive to create for Amazon’s digital products.

Amazon has declined to comment on the rumors.