Breakfast Briefing: IE under attack, touchscreen Ubuntu and sleepy iPhones

2 Jan 2013
Breakfast Briefing

Today's round-up includes all the tech news you may have missed over the Christmas break

While we were busy scoffing mince pies and playing with new gadgets, the tech world yielded a few interesting snippets, including a zero-day flaw in older versions of Internet Explorer, touch screens for Ubuntu, webOS on the Nexus 7 and why iPhone users might miss a few calls.

Old Internet Explorers under attack

New year, old exploits. Microsoft has admitted that Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 are vulnerable to a remote code execution attack that could give attackers access to your PC under certain circumstances. The flaws don’t affect Internet Explorer 9 or 10, although that’s no consolation to Windows XP users, who are barred from upgrading to the latest versions of Microsoft browser.

Microsoft has published a workaround for the flaw until it has time to issue a patch, either in the regular monthly cycle or as a special one-off fix.

Ubuntu gets touchy

A banner running on the Ubuntu.com homepage suggests we’re going to get a glimpse at a touch-enabled version of the Linux distro later today.

The Apple-style graphic has a countdown clock with the teaser "so close, you can almost touch it". All will be revealed at 6pm.

We’re being briefed on the new developments from Ubuntu later today, so keep 'em peeled.

iPhones refuse to be disturbed

Was your iPhone a little quieter than normal on New Year's Day? It might not have been friends and family simply sleeping off a hangover. It appears iOS 6's Do Not Disturb feature - which allows users to silence the phone during certain time periods - is suffering from a hangover of its own.

Engadget reports that Do Not Disturb is failing to switch itself off when it's supposed to - which we've also witnessed first-hand on the iPhone of a friend of a PC Pro team member. There doesn't appear to be any official fix yet, which could be something of a headache for Apple's tech support staff.

Treasury questions case for Snooper's Charter

The controversial Draft Communications Data Bill has come under further scrutiny, this time from the government's bean counters. As The Guardian reports, the plans to improve security services' web monitoring capabilities at a cost of £1.8 billion will need a revamp in order to receive Treasury backing. The business case for the bill was questioned by MPs in a report late last year and Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, has confirmed the plans are yet to receive financial backing.

"This expenditure is not yet committed, and so would represent an additional pressure were the report to go forward," he said. "The programme's business case is being revised at present, including the costs and benefits. The Home Office envisages completing this work by early 2013, and HM Treasury will consider the revised business case when it is available."

Autonomy founder to defend HP deal in US investigation

Mike Lynch, former boss of software company Autonomy that was bought by HP for $11bn, will defend his former company's accounts at a Department of Justice investigation into the deal.

With HP confirming that the authorities were investigating its books following a $5bn write-down on the deal, Reuters reports that the Silicon Valley company had passed information from a whistle blower to the US Department of Justice, the SEC and Britain's Serious Fraud Office.

With the probe under way, Lynch reiterated previous comments that the accounts put forward by Autonomy at the time of the HP purchase were all above board.

"Simply put, these allegations are false, and in the absence of further detail we cannot understand what HP believes to be the basis for them," he said in a statement. "We continue to reject these allegations in the strongest possible terms. Autonomy's financial accounts were properly maintained in accordance with applicable regulations, fully audited by Deloitte and available to HP during the due diligence process."

WebOS to be ported onto Nexus 7

WebOS has strong support among fans and, according to WebOS Nation, the now open source operating system is in line to be ported onto Google's Nexus 7. The OS appeared close to extinction when HP ended support, but enthusiasts persist in keeping the operating system alive and previous work on running it on Android focussed hardware could make the task easier.

Cook's 99% pay cut
If your New Year's bonus wasn't up to much, spare a thought for impoverished Apple boss Tim Cook, who took a 99% pay cut last year, according to a report from The Register. Not too much of a thought, though, as the Apple chief still collected a hefty $4.1 million for his work in 2012.

According to the company's SEC filings for the year, Cook's back-to-basics package reduction reflected the fact that he received such a large stock allocation back in 2011, when he gathered shares worth $378m.

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