The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Friday, February 20

Spy agencies may have your phone's encryption keys ... Re-engineering 4G for IoT... Hackers are still lurking in U.S. State Dept. network

Intelligence agencies may have your phone's encryption keys

British and American government agents hacked into SIM card maker Gemalto's network to take smartphone encryption keys potentially used by customers of hundreds of mobile phone carriers worldwide. That let the spy agencies monitor a vast swathe of the world's mobile phone voice and data traffic, reported The Intercept. It's the latest revelation from the trove of information leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

Re-engineering 4G LTE for the Internet of Things

LTE was developed to bring high-speed performance to smartphones, but the growing popularity of the less intelligent connected devices comprising the Internet of Things is making telcos rethink the specs. At Mobile World Congress, Nokia and Korea Telecom will show a prototype dubbed LTE-M meant to increase the battery life and decrease the cost of devices that use it.

Hackers are still lurking in U.S. State Department network

Three months ago, the U.S. State Department admitted that its unclassified email system had been hacked, and now the Wall Street Journal reports that it still hasn't been able to evict the interlopers. Sources close to the investigation told the newspaper that whenever the hackers' tools are found and blocked, they are then adapted as the intruders make another try to get past security.

Lenovo offers mea culpa and remedies over dangerous adware preinstall

Lenovo is owning its mistake in shipping PCs preinstalled with adware called Superfish Visual Discovery, with the CTO admitting on Thursday a lack of due diligence as the company works to remedy the mistake. The adware could allow bad actors to launch man-in-the-middle traffic interception attacks against any user that has the application installed. Lenovo is releasing a clean-up tool to fix the vulnerability that the software introduced.

IT layoffs called abuse of H-1B visa program

U.S. businesses say they need to import tech workers via the H-1B visa program because they can't find staff with the necessary skills, but one California utility is cutting 500 homegrown IT pros and replacing them with visa-holders. Several members of Congress are up in arms about the development, and calling for reform. U.S. Rep. Judy Chu warned that "Replacing American workers with temporary foreign workers for the purpose of driving wages down most definitely must not be the program's intent."

Oracle steps up big data push

Aiming to put big-data insights within closer reach of business users, Oracle rolled out four new products Thursday. Of particular interest: Oracle Big Data Discovery gives non-data scientists a visual interface to Hadoop meant to let them find and explore data from multiple sources as well as analyze and report on it.

YouTube app for kids coming Monday

A new YouTube app targeted at children will drop in the Google Play store on Monday. The free Android app will offer age-appropriate content and parental controls, but it's likely to be scrutinized closely to ensure that it doesn't run afoul of rules on the mining of kids' information. It is not clear yet whether it will show advertising.

Yahoo aims to build mobile developer community

Yahoo held its first-ever mobile developer conference in San Francisco on Thursday and introduced tools that help developers collect data about their apps and make money from them using Yahoo advertising services. Many of those tools are in Yahoo's portfolio thanks to its acquisition of Flurry last year; CEO Marissa Mayer said about 200,000 developers are now on board.

Watch now

Bill Gates used his guest-editor post at The Verge to star in a video about how GMOs could put a dent in world hunger.

One last thing

The Japanese still love flip-phones. IDG News Tokyo explores why shipments are growing and vendors continue to make them.

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