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Thursday, May 22, 2014

News roundup: This week's tech topics

Here's what you need to know to stay up-to-date on the latest tech developments.

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Here are five topics taking the spotlight in the tech field this week:

Mobile workplaces replacing traditional office arrangements 
The proliferation of smartphones and tablets is no secret, and it's starting to make a major impact on the workplace. TechRadar suggested that the rising cost of commuting coupled with the amount of time workers spend using mobile devices should encourage enterprises to reconsider their working arrangements. Research by Deloitte revealed that 30 to 40 percent of physical office space is vacant at any given moment during the normal work day, the source added. Although few U.K. businesses currently offer flexible working arrangements, such as telecommuting options, the source asserted that people might be more productive if given the chance to work remotely.

To bolster cybersecurity, government may adjust its hiring strategies 
Federal agencies are reconsidering their rigid hiring procedures in the face of strengthening cybersecurity threats, InformationWeek reported. Current hiring practices, which haven't changed much since the 1940s and 1950s, take an excessive amount of time to fill positions that are increasingly urgent and constantly evolving. On a similar note, the BBC explained that governmental organizations, including the FBI, might consider hiring candidates even if they've used cannabis recently. Currently, policies eliminate applicants who have used the drug within the past three years, but the agencies have recognized a need to draw talent from a more diverse pool.

Chinese hackers exploit human error 
Over the last few weeks, the United States has paid a significant amount of attention to cyberthreats originating in China. Recently, five Chinese military officials were indicted on charges that they stole trade secrets via cybercrime strategies, Bloomberg Businessweek explained. The source noted that the incident revealed one of the biggest security vulnerabilities: human error. The military officials were accused of using a common tactic called spearphishing which tricks others into giving sensitive information through what appeared to be official emails. In this case, the hackers targeted networks belonging to United States Steel Corp. and Alcoa Corp., the news source added.

Silicon Valley's newest network will be just for things 
With the Internet of Things taking off, some may wonder how the current cellular networks can handle the increased traffic. A French company has an idea: a "wireless slow lane" for small gadgets. MIT Technology Review noted that the firm is planning to build such a network in Silicon Valley to demonstrate that connecting pretty much anything to the Internet doesn't have to be an expensive venture. The source also pointed out that semiconductor companies, including Intel and Broadcom, are working to make lower-power, smaller, less expensive wireless chips to turn the IoT idea into reality.

eBay forces users to change passwords after breach 
In the latest far-reaching security breach, eBay is making its users alter their passwords. The site's database was hacked sometime between late February and early March, the BBC reported, exposing encrypted passwords and some non-financial information. Although the company hasn't discovered any suspicious activity in its customers' accounts, it's requiring new passwords as a precaution and to uphold security best practices, the news source explained.