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This Week in Technology: Intel, Hacks, and More


Intel Creates Chip To Control Quantum Computers

Intel announced a new chip that allows companies like Google and Microsoft to create better quantum computers. A quantum computer aims to carry out tasks in minutes that normal computers would take thousands of years. The chip, called “Horse Ridge”, will remove the hassle of wires and shrink it down to the size of a tea saucer.

Currently, quantum computers remain years away from mainstream use. Intel also has two different quantum efforts, both focused on building the core different ways. It also said that they designed the chip, named after the coldest spot of Oregon, to sit inside a quantum refrigerator. “Intel recognized that quantum controls were an essential piece of the puzzle we needed to solve in order to develop a large-scale commercial quantum system,” Jim Clarke, Intel’s director of quantum hardware, said in a statement.

Which? Finds Hackable Bluetooth Toys

Consumer group Which? found that some children’s toys, including two karaoke devices and one walkie talkie, are potentially hackable. Which? and cyber-security group NCC Group said that the Bluetooth connection was easily accessed. This could allow strangers to talk to children through them. However, Vtech, who made the walkie talkie, said that only one device could pair to the toy at a time.

They also said that anyone wanting to pair to a device has a 30-second window to do so. “Further to the recent Which? findings, we would like to reassure consumers on the safety of the VTech KidiGear Walkie Talkies which use the industry standard AES encryption to communicate,” Vtech added.

US 2020 Census Threatened With Hacks

Back in 2016, the US Census Bureau faced an important decision. They could either build their own system for collecting data or buy one from an outside source. They chose Pegasystems Inc, reasoning that outsourcing would be cheaper and more effective. However, three years later, the system faces serious reliability and security concerns.

A test in 2018 revealed that Russian hackers targeted the website. One source said an intruder bypassed a firewall. They also said he accessed parts of the system that should have been restricted to census developers. The incident didn’t result in stolen data but did raise alarm among security experts in the US. Census staff also expressed concern about the ability of the Bureau to defend against a more sophisticated staff.

Campaign Group Calls For Fact-Checking Political Ads

A British campaign group is calling for fact-checking political ads after a study revealed that at least 31 ads were indecent, dishonest, or untruthful. The Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising urged Parliament to create a new regulator to oversee the matter. It also suggests that 87% of voters agree with the sentiment.

US Airline Websites Down Briefly

US airline websites went down briefly on Wednesday following a technical issue with Google. “For roughly 90 minutes today, a glitch in our flight shopping software prevented our airline partners from displaying fare information. We have now resolved the issue,” Google spokesman Craig Ewer said in an email.