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The IT Roundup: The best tech stories of 2015

January 04, 2016
By Lisa Dare

Juniper Networks’ Christmas vulnerability disclosure

On Dec. 17—as IT network and system administrators everywhere were preparing for holiday breaks—Juniper Networks put a halt to their plans. The popular VPN and firewall networking equipment, which lots of companies use to allow workers secure access to work systems, had discovered unauthorized code that made some of its firewalls vulnerable.

Network admins worked feverishly to implement Juniper’s patch, but the damage may carry well into the future as people may be able to decrypt previously collected data. In fact, the patch itself provided clues to where the vulnerability lies, allowing a security company to reverse engineer the code and find the backdoor password in six hours.

The U.S. government, which was made also made vulnerable by the flaw, has implied China or Russia was the culprit, according to Politico. Many counter that it was likely the NSA’s own insistence on backdoor entrances for the government’s use that created the vulnerability in the first place.

Juniper Networks’ stock took a hit this week, but it’s likely that other major players will face similar problems.

Self-driving cars race ahead

In October we wrote, “Recent news has made it clear that self-driving cars aren’t just fun test projects; they’re going to happen—and it’s possible the next car you buy will drive itself home from the dealership.”

Is that still true? Some updates have complicated the situation: 

  • Google’s autonomous vehicle project recently suffered a setback when California legislators decided not to write laws governing automated cars yet.
  • Many expect Ford and Google to announce a partnership for self-driving cars and even more broadly, alternative mobility solutions, at this month’s Consumer Electronics Convention.
  • App-driven ride company Lyft just received $500 million—and an important partnership—with GM to create a self-driving fleet available for rides on demand.

Windows 10 gains momentum

For most users, the best thing about Windows 10 … drumroll … is the return of the Start button. The lack of this feature in the widely panned Windows 8 is the most compelling reason to adopt Windows 10, even more than a free upgrade (for non-Enterprise users), according to two-thirds of the IT pros polled by SpiceWorks.

While Windows 10 adoption has been cautious, most IT departments appear to be evaluating an upgrade.

Meanwhile, Microsoft confirmed the fast pace of Windows 10 adoption—it’s shredding the Windows 7 and 8 upgrade rates—but neither of those upgrades were offered for free as Windows 10 is to 7 and 8 license holders.

3D printing goes bust

In November we discussed the possibility of the 3D printer becoming a mass-market reality … at the same time we expected it to hit the Peak of Inflated Expectations. This holiday season didn’t disappoint. In December, consumer 3D printing took a hit, with several manufacturers backing off after weak sales.

The best and saddest RadioShack obituaries

Sadly, in February we covered the announcement that RadioShack had declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. While the news surprised only people who assumed the electronics retailer was already long gone, many computer enthusiasts expressed regret at its passing.

But was the death knell rung too soon?

No. While RadioShack still exists as a brand, it is now owned by General Wireless, which wants to reinvent it as an electronics convenience store.

This story touched close to home for me, too, as I fondly remember the crystal radios and other tech projects my dad and I worked on, powered by trips to RadioShack. So here’s the final line of my dad’s own tribute to the Shack:

As the age of repairing things yourself came to a close with throw-it-away-when-it-breaks electronics, RadioShack could not find a suitable purpose in today's electronic world. As a well-remembered and integral part of the lives of the post-World-War-II generation, it will be missed.  

Lisa Dare is a writer for TEKsystems who loves learning about IT from some of the smartest folks in the industry. She frequently blogs about IT careers, talent management and tech culture.

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