Dynamic Digest: Week of 4/18

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Welcome to the Dynamic Digest, a weekly recap of the latest news happening in our industry. Want the pulse of what’s going on in enterprise software and analytics, performance management, cloud computing, data, and other like topics? We got you covered!

This week in the world of technology, the FBI reportedly paid more than $1M to break into the San Bernardino iPhone, Harvard introduced a new educational coding robot, and Europe announced a plan to collect airline passenger data.

FBI Paid More Than $1.3M to Crack San Bernardino iPhone – Fortune, April 21

It looks like the blood, sweat, and tears the FBI shed hacking into the San Bernardino iPhone was worth… over $1 million dollars?!. Just this week, FBI Director James Comey hinted at how much his agency paid for a hacking tool that helped break into Syed Farook’s phone, stating it was more than his salary for the remainder of his seven-year term. While Comey didn’t specify how much was paid, other than alluding that it was “a lot,” research has confirmed that it was more than $1.3 million. But who received the $1.3M remains unclear and it doesn’t appear the FBI is ready to disclose the unidentified third party quite yet. However, recent reports lead some security experts and spectators to believe it was a group of hackers. Now, the question is – what was on the phone? Earlier reports noted that the iPhone had yielded no results, but newly surfaced reports claim the price tag was “worth it” and FBI has indeed found useful information. According to the agency, Farook was not in contact with any ISIS members, nor did he make contact with any other plotters following the attack. While the phone allowed the FBI to close some missing gaps, the investigation is far from over as many questions are still left unanswered.

Key takeaway: The FBI claims the hefty price tag was “worth it”, but as of late, no groundbreaking revelations have really come to fruition. Additionally, even if the phone yielded no results it’s very unlikely for the government to admit that after spending $1M and cooperating in an intensive seven-week long legal battle with Apple. Unfortunately, criminal investigations happen every day, so how can the government really be sure when to go to excessive lengths to get this type of information? Will the government find a way to access this type of data or will they continue being forced to make mass appeals to the tech world for similar hacks?

Meet Root, the robot that helps students understand programming – Mashable, April 19

Meet Root the Robot – Harvard’s new educational robot designed to “bring coding to life.” In a new effort led by Zivthan Dubrovsky and a small team of bio-inspired robotics researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute, the research project aims to ignite interest in coding and spark freeform creativity amongst children. The small hexagonal shaped robot has a plethora of technologies including “magnets, accelerometer, gyroscope, wheel encoders, multicolor LEDss,” and multiple sensors that allow the bot to navigate classroom whiteboards. Additionally, the magnetic robot glides along horizontal surfaces, draws and erases patterns, plays music and scans colors. Children operate the robot through Square, an iOS programming app that teaches kids coding at three different levels – starting with drag-and-drop coding and transitioning to text-based coding. While Root is still a research project, the team is looking for educational organizations to partner with and develop curriculums that will help bring Root into classrooms.

Key takeaway: Gone are the days where computer science is taught as an individual activity through textbooks and websites – Root brings an entirely different dynamic to coding in classrooms. It breaks down the oftentimes daunting and complex world of coding and turns it into a collaborative, creative and interactive environment for children to learn. The importance of computer science is only increasing with the advancement of technology, and Root may be a valuable addition for classrooms that lack such resources.

Europe’s plan to collect airline passenger data raises privacy concerns – The Verge, April 15

Is security more important than privacy when it comes to collecting airline passenger data? This week, the European Parliament passed an initiative that would allow EU intelligence agencies to collect and share information on airline passengers traveling to, from, and within the EU. After the recent tragic terrorist attack in both Brussels and Paris, the intense five-year debate came to an end with a large majority (461 to 179) voting for the proposed Passenger Name Record (PNR) directive. Information, including names, email addresses, itineraries, passport data, and ticket price will be collected, shared, and analyzed by intelligence agencies without any hesitations for up to five years. The directive will aid in the fight against terrorism by increasing border security and enabling intelligence agencies to share data more effectively while also being able to identify patterns of suspicious activity.

Key takeaway: With an estimated 6,000 citizens having already left Europe to join ISIS and an increase in terrorist attacks, the need for additional security becomes an immediate necessity. However, some critics believe the measure goes too far in violating privacy rights and will subject European citizens to potential discrimination and constant surveillance. Is this an effective approach to fighting terrorism or is it simply a “quick and easy solution” that lawmakers are implementing? We guess we’ll find out…

Other top tech stories:

We hope you enjoyed this week’s Dynamic Digest weekly roundup! Have a suggestion or preferred topic you would like to see next week? Tweet at us or leave a comment below!

Brooke Bonime

Brooke Bonime

Brooke is a part of the AppDynamics marketing team. A Seattle native and University of Oregon graduate,Brooke is passionate about writing, traveling, cooking, music and social justice. Connect with her on Twitter @BrookeBonime.

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