Tech 2.0 for Monday, February 17, 2014

Contributor: Matt Davenport
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Updated: 2/17 2:17 pm


Some of the Navy's newest weapons sound like something out of "Star Wars," with lasers designed to shoot down drones and electric guns that fire projectiles at hypersonic speeds. But the future is now. The Navy plans to deploy a laser prototype on a ship this summer in the Persian Gulf. It intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years. Part of the appeal is the cost. They're far cheaper than missiles and smart bombs. Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems, says new technology can help the Navy "get ahead of the cost curve."

It used to be that "hacking" was just a type of crime, a computer break-in. But today, the term is also part of a growing — and perfectly legal — mainstay of the tech sector. Computer programming competitions known as "hackathons" have spread like viruses in recent years as ways for geeks, nerds and designers to get together to eat pizza, lose sleep and create something new. The formal, marathon group brainstorming sessions are focused on everything from developing lucrative apps to using computer code to solve the world's problems. This year a record 1,500 hackathons are planned around the globe, up from just a handful in 2010.

Online fundraising site Kickstarter says hackers got some of its customer data. Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler says hackers accessed usernames, email addresses, phone numbers and passwords. The passwords are encrypted, but Kickstarter says it is possible for a hacker to guess a weak or obvious password. Kickstarter says hackers did not get credit card information. It says two accounts have had unauthorized transactions. Kickstarter Inc. is one of dozens of crowdfunding websites that let people raise money from donors for projects. Kickstarter projects have included a Spike Lee movie, local breweries and charitable causes. Kickstarter disclosed the breach Saturday on its blog after learning about it from law enforcement on Wednesday. It says it closed the security breach right away.
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