Government agency hacks. ‘China did it':

U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper said on Thursday that China was the top suspect in the massive hacking of a U.S. government agency that compromised the personnel records of millions of Americans.

The comments from Clapper, the director of National Intelligence (DNI), were first reported in The Wall Street Journal and marked the first time the Obama administration has publicly accused Beijing of the hacking attacks on the Office of Personnel Management.In a statement, Clapper’s office confirmed that he had identified China as a leading suspect, although it said the U.S. government investigation was ongoing.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he found it strange that the United States says it is both still probing the hack and also believes China is to blame.

“This is an absurd logic,” he told reporters.

U.S. officials have previously blamed the attacks on Chinese hackers, though not publicly. White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday declined to comment on any potential suspects.

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that personnel data of 4.2 million current and former federal employees was compromised in one security breach and that another attack, targeting those applying for security clearances, had affected millions more.

Some media have reported that as many as 18 million Americans could have been affected.

Clapper’s comments came a day after the conclusion of three days of high-level talks between China and the United States in Washington at which cybersecurity figured prominently.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday there had been no U.S. “finger-pointing” during those meetings about cybertheft “and whether or not it was actioned by government, or whether it was hackers, or individuals the government has the ability to prosecute.”

Kerry also said, however, the U.S. side had made “crystal clear” that cybertheft was not acceptable. He said the United States believed there was a need to work with China to develop a “code of conduct” on state behavior in cyberspace and that China had agreed.

“It’s something that we agreed needs to be addressed and hopefully it can be addressed soon,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday.

White House spokesman Earnest cautioned against guessing at what response the United States might take against those responsible for the attacks. “If there is a response, it’s probably not one we are likely to telegraph in advance,” he said.

The Journal cited Clapper as saying the U.S. government and American companies would continue to be targets until policymakers addressed the “lack of deterrents.”

Clapper said the absence of a U.S. threat to respond to hacking attacks meant Washington had to put its focus instead on defense, the newspaper reported.

China has dismissed as “irresponsible and unscientific” any suggestion that it was behind the hacking. China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, said after Wednesday’s talks that the two countries should work together on cybersecurity.

 

Reuters

BlackBerry 10 phones get the Amazon Appstore in the US

If you’re a BlackBerry-toting American, you’re about to get a ton of Android apps on your plate. As promised, BlackBerry has started the US rollout of an update that gives all BB10 devices access to the Amazon Appstore, saving you from having to sideload some of the Android titles you can’t live without. You’ll also get better anti-theft protection and a “fresh look” that includes faster access to common tasks.

Just when you get your upgrade is a bit of a toss-up. On AT&T, you’re first in line if you’re carrying the older BlackBerry Q10 or Z10; on T-Mobile and Verizon, you’re at the start of the queue if you’re rocking a BlackBerry Classic. Every other BlackBerry 10 device in the country will receive the new software eventually, though, so don’t worry if your Z30 isn’t part of the initial wave.

*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget’s parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.

Facebook Moments Is Changing The Photo-Sharing Game

It takes advantage of two Facebook technologies, Messenger and facial recognition, to allow users to quickly send a huge group of photos to the friends in those photos.

The Moments app groups images together based on who is in them, when they were taken, and where they were taken, then “suggests” people you could share those images with.

The idea is that all pictures from the same event or vacation can be shared with multiple people or just one other person in a matter of seconds.

Canon announces the PowerShot G3 X

It’s been years since Canon dominated the high end compact market. Back then — before companies like Fujifilm and Sony flooded the market with excellent options near or under $1,000, and shooting with your phone wasn’t really an option — Canon’s flagship G series of cameras reigned supreme. If you wanted a camera with full manual controls that you could squeeze into a pocket, it was nearly the only option. Today, Canon is adding to that that lineup by introducing the $999 Powershot G3 X.

The 20.2MP G3 X has all the features you’d expect from a camera in this price range: Wi-Fi, NFC, water resistance, a 3.2-inch touch-enabled articulating LCD screen, and the ability to shoot 1080p HD video at 60fps. It even has a few you wouldn’t expect, like five-axis image stabilization and audio jacks for headphones and an external microphone.

But in certain lights, the more expensive G3 X looks like a step back from its predecessors. The 1.5-inch CMOS sensor found in the G1 X (2012) and G1 X Mark II (2014) is gone, and in its place on the G3 X is merely a one-inch sensor. The new camera will use Canon’s DIGIC 6 image processor, which is good at helping smaller sensors in tough situations (like low light), but there will likely be an unavoidable tradeoff in image quality.

The smaller sensor did allow Canon to pack tons more focal length in the new camera, as the G3 X features 25X optical zoom (for the equivalent of a 24-600mm lens). Gaudy optical zoom capability is a weapon of choice for traditional camera companies trying to sell high end compact cameras. Both Canon and Nikon, have equipped its lower-end cameras with smaller sensors that allow for optical zooms of 65x and even 83x.

The harsh truth for these companies is people are extremely comfortable shooting photos with their phones, and better mirrorless cameras with larger sensors and similar features are dropping in price. Take the PowerShot G3 X’s closest competitors, for example. Last week Sony announced the RX10 II, which can shoot super slow motion and 4K video, and has a consistent aperture of f2.8, and the RX100 Mark IV, an extremely capable version of its most compact camera. Canon will have the cost edge on the $1,300 RX10 II, but not the $1,000 RX100 Mark IV.

That leaves the G3 X in a murky spot. The G3 X has better zoom than the brand new RX100 Mark IV, but the Sony is far more compact. And while the G3 X is cheaper than Sony’s similar-looking RX10 II, the tradeoffs you have to make in capabilities and image quality may not be worth the money you save.

The PowerShot G3 X’s most direct competition might come from inside Canon’s own factories. The company’s G1 X Mark II is still for sale at a much cheaper price that’s paired with a bigger sensor. That might make it worth whatever tradeoffs you can find deep in the list of its specs.