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January 2nd, 2015

Google Fiber, Net Neutrality & More…

FOSS Week in Review

Larry Cafiero’s suffering through a power failure, so you’re stuck with me today.

The holiday fest is finally over for most — it should be for everyone by Monday morning — and it’s time for some normalcy to return to the world. Of course, these days what passes for normal is pretty damn weird, if you ask me, which you didn’t. News from the tech sector is pretty quiet, but should begin to pick-up as soon as managements’ hangovers clear and the suits get back to creating mayhem…

But here’s the best of the best (or the worst of the worst, depending on how you see it) from this weeks news.

Google Fiber & the FCC

Our favorite (or not so) search company on Tuesday filed a four-page public comment with the FCC, giving the august agency (or not so) yet another reason to reclassify ISPs under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. The reason would be access to telephone poles and other stuff.

It seems that Google hasn’t always been able to gain access to infrastructure such as utility poles, ducts, conduits and rights of way in its attempt to bring speed-of-light Internet access to the U.S. one city at a time. The company claims that reclassifying service providers as common carriers would open the door and give it access.

Google Fiber and access to utility poles became an issue about a year ago when the company was hooking up Austin, Texas. Rival AT&T, which was in a race with the search company to bring super-fast service to the city, denied Google access to its utility poles in the city.

Reclassifying ISPs as common carriers is seen by many as the easiest way to bring back Net Neutrality.

How safe is your website?

Over in Merry Olde, The Register reported on Wednesday that a surprising number of PHP powered websites are vulnerable to PHP exploits. How many? Would you believe upwards of 78 percent?

The site reports that Anthony Ferrara, a developer advocate at Google, has come to this conclusion by looking at stats from W3Techs, a web survey site, and comparing their info with known vulnerabilities in PHP.

“The two most popular PHP releases, according to W3Techs’ statistics, were versions 5.2.17 and 5.3.29. Together, they accounted for 24 per cent of the total – and both are insecure.

“More to the point, Ferrara found that for each major version of PHP from 5.3 through 5.6, only a small number of minor versions are not known to contain any vulnerabilities, but most systems aren’t running those secure versions.”

There’s not much excuse for this state of affairs, as all of the latest versions of PHP are considered secure. Webmasters maintaining PHP based sites might want to pass through their sites’ back doors to satisfy themselves that they’re using versions 5.4, 5.5 or 5.6. If not, remedy the situation.

India bans gist.github.com

In what it’s claiming to be a fight against terrorist, India’s Department of Telecom this week blocked access to 32 websites it claim carry “Jihadi Propaganda.” Although initial reports said that the list of blocked sites included GitHub, it turned out that only the Gist page was blocked. Gist.github has since been removed from the ban, as have Vimeo, Weebly and Dailymotion, but 32 sites remain blocked.

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Well, that, going to do it for this week. Until the next time I sit in for Larry, may the FOSS be with you…

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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