Welcome to this edition of “The Week in Tech,” where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.
Today we highlight how Microsoft Office is now free on mobile, Verizon’s and AT&T’s spying tactics, and how email addresses were stolen in the Home Depot hack.
Microsoft Office is now free on mobile
Microsoft is finally catching on to this mobile thing and is now offering its Office suite for free on mobile devices.
In a 180 degree change, the world’s largest software company now allows consumers to create, edit and store Excel, Word and Powerpoint documents on iPhones, iPads and Android devices without an Office 365 subscription. The company has offered free Office apps online and is now extending this to mobile.
Google has long offered its Drive, Docs, and Sheets products for free, and Apple started offering the iWork suite for iPhone and iPad for free last year. Microsoft will still charge for premium features in its Office 365 subscription and will not extend the free functionality to businesses; they have to continue to milk the cash cow somehow.
Verizon and AT&T have been spying on you
The NSA isn’t the only one spying on you.
Verizon and AT&T have been tracking more than 100 million subscribers’ mobile phone behavior with “supercookies” that are nearly impossible to escape. The companies have been logging users’ mobile browsing history to create profiles to share with advertisers.
Both companies say they have taken steps to alert their users of the tracking program. Verizon allows individual users to opt-out of the marketing program, but that option only prevents Verizon from sharing that data with advertisers and does not prevent the company from collecting browsing data.
Verizon’s and AT&T’s programs may be in violation of multiple laws. The first is the Communications Act, which requires companies to protect their customers’ confidential data and use it only for their marketing efforts, and not for third parties. They may also violate the Wiretap Act, which prohibits altering personal communications during transmission without consent or a court order; if the companies’ notification efforts are deemed inadequate, they would be in big trouble.
53 million emails were stolen in Home Depot breach
Back in September, Home Depot was hacked and 56 million credit card numbers were stolen. This week, a joint investigation confirmed that 53 million email addresses were stolen as well.
Home Depot has notified its customers of the breach to help them avoid phishing scams.
The investigation also confirmed that no “passwords, payment card information or other sensitive personal information” was accessed in the stolen files that contained the email addresses. The breach occurred when hackers installed malicious software after obtaining the login credentials of a third-party Home Depot vendor. The company says the malware has been removed from its systems and additional security measures have been taken.
What do you think of these stories? Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.