Monday tech roundupThe Juniper firewall fiasco was still one of the biggest stories last week especially after it was revealed that it might have been an NSA backdoor which was the root of all the trouble. According to ZDNet “Researchers believe that even if the National Security Agency wasn’t directly to blame for inserting the backdoor code, it was at least helped along by creating a weakness in a cryptographic algorithm used in part by Juniper that allowed the attackers to strike.” This goes against what governments have been saying about how backdoors would offer more “security” and as Zack Whittaker said in an opinion piece for ZDNet “If ever there’s been a shining example of why government backdoors are a bad idea, the motherlode just got served up hot on a platter.”

Also last week, we read a damning report about self-driving cars, we learnt of a hack at Hyatt Hotels and discovered how Talko, a Ray Ozzie startup, will be merged with Microsoft’s Skype.

Self-driving cars stumble in tricky tasks

Early reports had self-driving cars doing well, safety wise. The biggest problem was normal cars crashing into the automatic vehicles because robot cars drive within the speed limit and actually stop for stop signs.

Google for one was reporting that its cars were far safer than human driven counterparts.  But now a new study shows just the opposite – that the self-driving cars crash twice as often.

The new-fangled cars can’t finesse tricky situations like an experienced human can. Merging onto a highway and changing lanes when all around you are cars with different and unpredictable patterns are where driverless rigs have trouble. Playing by the rules is a disadvantage in these situations.

Still, the biggest issue is humans driving into driverless cars, which simply do not act like a normal, human-driven car.

For more details, you can check out this study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute.

Hyatt payments system hacked

Hyatt Hotels last week disclosed that hackers installed malware that impacted the hotel chains payment system, raising the possibility that credit card information was compromised. The announcement means Hyatt customers can cancel the cards they used at the chain in an effort to stop any fraudulent activity.

Hyatt is still working with security experts to learn more, but it is confident that customers have nothing to worry about. A hotel spokeswoman went into detail, explaining how “the malware has been identified on computers that operate the payment processing systems for Hyatt-managed locations, which is a subset of the total Hyatt properties.”

The company has also created a section on their website  to keep customers updated with current and further developments on the case. It says they have ”taken steps to strengthen the security of our systems, and customers can feel confident using payment cards at Hyatt hotels worldwide.”

Microsoft buys another company from former tech boss Ray Ozzie

If you don’t know who Ray Ozzie is, let me help you a little… He is the man who created what was to become Lotus Notes and in the process invented what used to be known as Groupware.

Lotus bought Ozzie’s company and Ray went on to found another one – Groove Networks which was a fresh take on Groupware.

Bill Gates always admired Ozzie’s plentiful brain and bought Groove more to tap Ozzie’s talents than to sell the product, which languished under Microsoft’s ownership.

For five years Ozzie took over Gate’s job as Microsoft Chief Software Architect and was responsible for Redmond’s ambitious push to the cloud.

Now Microsoft owns Ozzie’s company Talko, which will be used as an adjunct to Skype.

Here’s how Talko explained the deal. “Talko, a mobile app for business team communications, was launched in September of 2014.  The app brought together messaging, calling, and conferencing – delivering a better way for mobile teams to communicate and be productive. Thousands of businesses have used Talko daily to coordinate their work while on-the-go,” the Talko web site said.

The Talko strategy, however, wasn’t able to create a broad audience, the kind it can find as part of Skype. “For all the value and enjoyment it’s delivered, and for all the team’s listening and perseverance, Talko was largely on the path to filling a (passionate) niche. We’re in this to have great impact, so it’s time for a change. As part of the Skype team, we’ll leverage Talko’s technology and the many things we’ve learned during its design and development. We’ll strive to deliver the best of our product’s innovations far more broadly than on our current path.”