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What is WhatsApp? 5 things to know about the popular messaging app

According to British press reports, the assailant involved in last week’s London terror attack that left three pedestrians and one police officer dead — and dozens more wounded — used WhatsApp just minutes before the rampage.

>> Read more trending news

But because the messages sent by and to attacker Khalid Masood are encrypted by the popular messaging app, officials are unable to access them.

“We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp — and there are plenty of others like that — don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in multiple interviews Sunday.

>> Related: London terror attack: What we know

Whether you use the app or not, here are some things to know about WhatsApp and the encryption debate:

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a popular messaging app with end-to-end encrypted instant messaging that can be used on various platforms, including Android, iPhone and Windows smartphones, and Mac or Windows PCs.

Created in 2009 and later acquired by Facebook in 2014, the app uses your phone's internet connection to send messages so you can avoid texting fees.

What can you do with the app?

In addition to making calls, sending messages, photos, videos, files and voice messages to individuals or groups, WhatsApp rolled out some new features in 2017.

Now, the app includes a Snapchat story-like feature, which allows users to update their “status” using pictures, GIFs and videos.

You can also swipe up to reply to your friends’ statuses.

Who uses it?

According to Facebook’s earnings call on Feb 2, 2017, WhatsApp had 1.2 billion monthly active users, Statista reported.

The popular messaging app is used by people in more than 180 countries around the world.

What is end-to-end encryption?

End-to-end encryption is a security system in which only the sender and the recipient can read their own messages. In fact, even WhatsApp can’t access user messages.

Apple’s iMessage also uses end-to-end encryption.

What is the debate around ending end-to-end encryption?

Following the London terror attack, Home Secretary Amber Rudd called for WhatsApp and other encrypted services to offer a "back door" system for officials, AP reported.

In 2015, following the San Bernardino, California shooting that left 14 dead, the FBI requested Apple for the passcodes needed to unlock an iPhone used by one of the perpetrators.

But Apple and other tech industry giants, as well as privacy advocates, say creating security loopholes would be dangerous as it opens the door to cybercriminals, too.

>> Related: Apple CEO Tim Cook: We oppose this order 

While tech companies should help officials when possible, the help should be requested through warrants where the process is both properly regulated and monitored, Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, told Newsweek.

“Compelling companies to put backdoors into encrypted services would make millions of ordinary people less secure online. We all rely on encryption to protect our ability to communicate, shop and bank safely,” he said.

Here’s why police are warning iPhone users to stop saying ‘108’ to Siri

A viral social media prank asking iPhone users to say the number 108 to Siri is causing uproar within police departments across the nation.

>> Read more trending news

According to BBC News, 108 is India’s three-digit code for 911. When users participate in the viral craze, Siri connects them to emergency services in their area within five seconds, ultimately wasting resources and tying up phone lines for other serious emergencies.

The craze began circulating on Twitter over the weekend.

“This prank is problematic because it uses resources that are vital for others trying to receive help in real emergency situations,” officials from the Marshall Police Department in Wisconsin wrote on Facebook.

Not only is it harmful, but placing prank 911 calls can also be considered a crime, they wrote.

An Arkansas police department also warned users to steer clear of the prank, stating the shortcut is designed specifically as a panic code for those in real emergencies.

BBB warning: Amazon shoppers targeted by scammers who take over victims' computers

A new warning says Amazon shoppers in Northeast Florida are being targeted by criminals who are taking over their computers.

The Better Business Bureau recently alerted consumers to the scam on social media after being contacted by someone who was targeted.

>> Read more trending news

Shannon Nelson, of the BBB’s Northeast Florida and Southeast Atlantic office, said she received a call this week from a 70-year-old woman who told her that she was looking up information about an Amazon product when she clicked on a site and then dialed a number she believed was Amazon customer service.

>> Watch the news report here

"A third party broke in and said, 'We are with this company, and we want to offer you this security for your computer.' Then from there, we're not sure how they then gained access to her computer," Nelson said.

Jaqueline only wanted us to use her first name to avoid being targeted again, but she said the third party began a sales pitch for anti-virus software for her computer.

"When I kept refusing, they kept lowering the price," Jaqueline said. 

She said she was given the company name Tech Crew LLC, and they first told her their product would cost $1,499 but eventually lowered their price to $1,000. She still refused to purchase anything.

Jaqueline said that shortly after she finished that phone call, she realized that her computer was moving very slowly. She also realized a symbol in the corner of her screen contained software she had never installed.

"They have been harassing me ever since. The last conversation I had with them, they threatened me with legal action. I'm very frustrated and I'm very frightened. I don't know what they're going to do. I do feel violated," Jaqueline said.

Nelson said this is the first time she and her colleagues have heard this type of scam in their office, and people always need to be aware of what sites they are clicking on.

"Make sure the address in the address bar is the website that you are trying to visit and not some spoofed information," Nelson said.

Cold hands? Heatbuff claims it will keep 'em toasty while you type

Chilly office? A new product promises to warm your frigid fingers while you work or play, Digital Trends reports.

Danish students Emil Frolund and Mads Sorensen recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the Envavo Heatbuff, "an infrared short wave heater" that you can place by your keyboard, according to the product description.

>> Check out the Kickstarter page here

It "warms your hands but does not heat up itself or your keyboard. ... Your hands will never get too hot, so you won't feel the heat in a way that's uncomfortable," the description continues. "Even if you sit in a chilly environment, your hands will remain warm."

>> Read more trending news

Frolund and Sorensen came up with the idea last year while they were playing video games, according to the Kickstarter page.

"Both were being (taken) out by some noob, and as real gamers, their excuses were plentiful," the page reads. "Lousy teammates, laggy internet, cold fingers."

As of Monday morning, the pair had already raised $30,881 – more than $20,000 more than their original goal.

Learn more here.

Sony patent would allow you to share phone battery life

People share photos, texts and videos on their smartphones. Soon, they might be able to share some juice when batteries run low. 

>> Read more trending news

Sony recently earned a patent allowing for two consumer devices like smartphones to transfer power between each other, USA Today reported. The patent was reported by tech site What A Future.

The technology would leverage near-field communication (NFC), used in many smartphones to communicate with nearby devices or contact-less payment systems used with mobile payment apps, USA Today reported.

Sony’s patent would allow one phone to transfer power to another one. Users would either touch another device or keep it close enough to transmit data, USA Today reported.

"It can be beneficial in many instances to allow consumer electronic devices to wirelessly transmit and/or share power between two or more consumer electronic devices," according to an excerpt from the patent. "For example, some embodiments allow one cellphone to obtain power from and/or use battery power from another cellphone."

The patent also would apply to transferring data, USA Today reported.

High-profile Twitter accounts compromised in #Nazihollanda hack

High-profile Twitter accounts were hacked early Wednesday to post a message with the hashtags #Nazialmanya and #Nazihollanda.

According to Josh Butler, associate editor of Huffington Post Australia, "many hundreds" of compromised accounts – including @Forbes, @BBC America, @Atlanta_Police, @CBSTVStudios, @Bieber_Japan, sports teams and other verified users – tweeted the message in Turkish overnight.

>> Read more trending news

The tweet, which begins with a swastika and includes a YouTube link, "says 'Nazi Germany' and 'Nazi Holland' and 'see you April 16th,'" Butler tweeted.

CNBC reported that hacked accounts also were "branded with the Turkish flag."

many hundreds of accounts hacked in this #Nazialmanya hack; it's in Turkish, says 'Nazi Germany' and 'Nazi Holland' and 'see you April 16th'— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) March 15, 2017 <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

@RikkiKlausWSB @AudreyWSBTV @NefertitiWSB @wsbtv i believe @Atlanta_Police twitter has been hacked— dfbbINC (@dfbbinc) March 15, 2017

@CanadaSoccerEN acct hacked. Hackers did this 2 send mesg in cheap shot way. News will spread and ppl will see but they'll never win. Ever.— Brianna Driggs (@calibri611) March 15, 2017

Third-party application Twitter Counter confirmed at 4:55 a.m. ET that it had been hacked and was investigating the issue.

We're aware that our service was hacked and have started an investigation into the matter.We've already taken measures to contain such abuse— TheCounter (@thecounter) March 15, 2017

One thing is important to note - we do not store users' Twitter account credentials (passwords) nor credit card information.— TheCounter (@thecounter) March 15, 2017

Analyst Ben Donkor encouraged people to revoke Twitter Counter's access to their accounts.

How to revoke Twitter Counter's access— Ben Donkor (@FR314) March 15, 2017 <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Butler and other Twitter users also urged people to enable two-factor authentication.

Read more here.

WikiLeaks claims CIA can hack smartphones, other gadgets for surveillance

WikiLeaks on Tuesday released “Year Zero,” a supposed trove of 8,761 “documents and files from an isolated high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI) in Langley, Virginia.”

WikiLeaks said this is the first in a “series” of intelligence leaks, called Vault 7, that will comprise the largest intelligence dump in history. The documents detail CIA weapons, tactics, vulnerabilities, operations and strategies available to and used by cyberintelligence officers operating inside or on behalf of the CCI. WikiLeaks claimed the information inside is as recent as 2016; NSA hacker Edward Snowden later said the documents appear to be legitimate.

Still working through the publication, but what @Wikileaks has here is genuinely a big deal. Looks authentic.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 7, 2017

“Year Zero” reportedly reveals hacks, exploits and “Zero Day” vulnerabilities in operating systems, hardware, software and devices used by nearly every American and millions of people across the globe. WikiLeaks said the CIA can exploit holes in every available operating system and antivirus, including Android and iOS, as well as encrypted messaging apps like Signal. WikiLeaks said the documents detail exploits on “smart” devices to activate microphones and cameras even when the owners of such devices attempt to turn them off.

WikiLeaks claimed that instead of revealing software and hardware weaknesses, the CIA collected them, adding them to an ever-growing arsenal of available cyberweapons. The dump also purportedly details the agency’s direction and interest in developing new capabilities. That includes the operating systems behind self-driving cars, for example, to which the CCI was working to gain access, WikiLeaks said.

>> Read more trending news

Wikileaks said CIA operatives “lost control” of “the majority” of its hacking arsenal, millions of lines of code that include “malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized 'Zero Day' exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation” and amount to what they say is the “entire hacking capacity of the CIA.” WikiLeaks said the arsenal has already been removed from the CIA and distributed to former government hackers and contractors in “an unauthorized manner.” WikiLeaks cited one of those recipients as their source, while keeping the recipient’s identity anonymous.

The individual who provided these documents leaked the secrets to press debate over the scope and capabilities of CIA cyber-weaponry, WikiLeaks said. That includes “whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers” and “the problem of public oversight of the agency," WikiLeaks said.

“The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons,” says the WikiLeaks release. If legitimate, the cyberweapons and vulnerabilities contained in the “Year Zero” release alone reveal a more capable cyberintelligence architecture than Americans have ever known.

In communications, WikiLeaks seems to paint the release as an indictment of a reckless CIA. WikiLeaks wrote that “once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose,’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.”

81-year-old iPhone app creator isn’t done yet; more apps coming

She’s a former banker and a self-described “technology evangelist,” and now 81-year-old Masako Wakamiya is an iPhone app creator, too, something most people half her age haven’t done.

According to CNN, Wakamiya said she decided to create her own app aimed at older people when she noticed there just weren’t many in existence.

>> Read more trending news  

“We easily lose games when playing against young people, since our finger movements can’t match their speed,” she said.

Wakamiya decided to create games geared toward seniors when she couldn’t find anyone else to do it, CNN reported.

“I wanted to create a fun app to get elderly people interested in smartphones,” she told CNN.

“It took about a year to develop.”

Wakamiya’s app is called Hinadan. It’s based on a Japanese festival called Hinamatsuri, or Doll’s Day. As part of the festival, dolls are dressed in traditional Japanese clothing to symbolize the emperor and his court, and displayed in certain ways.

The iOS game involves decorating the dolls and placing them in the correct arrangement for Hinamatsuri.

This is just Wakamiya’s first effort. She said she plans to create more apps in the future.

Lego set to honor women of NASA, including Katherine Johnson of 'Hidden Figures'

Lego fans, we have liftoff.

The Denmark-based toy maker announced Tuesday that it will release a fan-designed Women of NASA set featuring minifigures of mathematician Katherine Johnson – whose story was told in the Academy Award-nominated film "Hidden Figures" – and four other trailblazers.

>> Read more trending news

Everything is AWESOME! @LegoNASAWomen has been approved by #LEGO and will soon be available in stores!!!— Lego NASA Women (@LegoNASAWomen) February 28, 2017

Science editor and writer Maia Weinstock submitted the set to the Lego Ideas competition "to celebrate accomplished women in the STEM professions," a Lego Ideas spokeswoman said in a video.

"We're really excited to be able to introduce Maia's Women of NASA set for its inspirational value as well as build-and-play experience," the spokeswoman said.

>> Watch the video here

According to its project description page, the set also features minifigures of Sally Ride, America's first woman in space; Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space; computer scientist Margaret Hamilton; and astronomer Nancy Grace Roman.

Lego said it is still working on the set's design and will have more details about pricing and availability later this year or early next year.

Read more here.

Iconic Nokia 3310 unveiled ahead of retro phone relaunch

The Nokia 3310 is making a comeback. The new mobile Finnish company HMD Global unveiled a smaller and sleeker version of the 17-year-old phone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on Sunday.

The phone, which doesn’t even have 3G, was famous for its long battery life and its durability.

>> Read more trending news 

The new, updated version of the 2017 Nokia will reportedly have 22 hours of talk time with a one-month battery life on standby, according to Wired.

The original Nokia was discontinued in 2005.

The 2017 version will be available later this year, according to HMD, and will come in both matte blue and grey and gloss red and yellow versions

The world's largest communications companies gather for the annual Mobile World Congress, with many unveiling their latest phones and high-tech gadgets.  

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