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Weekend Roundup: Facebook flounders, HP creaks, ITProPortal heads to Las Vegas for CES 2014 and a happy NSA Year

Happy NSA Year

If you thought the NSA scandal would be confined to 2013, you were very wrong.

At the very end of December, Der Spiegel reported that the NSA has been secretly planting backdoors in electronics since 2008 (opens in new tab). According to the newspaper, Apple, Dell and IBM are just some of the companies that have been subject to the agency's Tailored Access Operations hacking unit.

"These NSA agents, who specialize in secret back doors, are able to keep an eye on all levels of our digital lives – from computing centres to individual computers, from laptops to mobile phones," reports Der Spiegel. "For nearly every lock, ANT [an NSA division] seems to have a key in its toolbox."

Furthermore, Edward Snowden this week said that the NSA uses error reports on Windows to spy on ordinary computer users (opens in new tab). When asked about the matter by ITProPortal, Microsoft spokespeople said, "Microsoft does not provide any Government with direct or unfettered access to our customers' data. We would have significant concerns if the allegations about Government actions are true."

Good luck, Facebook and HP

It's not been the best of starts to the New Year for tech Titans Facebook and HP either. While HP CEO Meg Whitman has confirmed that the company needs to cut 34,000 jobs before the end of the year (opens in new tab), Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was hit with news that the social network may have already seen its best days.

Zuckerberg has heard similar, headline-hungry accusations before. However, this time around, the analysis seems to have real substance behind it. According to a multi-country, European Union-funded study, the firm's core user base is getting older (opens in new tab) and the next generation is not particularly interested in the site. Daniel Miller of UCL went as far as to say that Facebook "is basically dead and buried" amongst British youngsters.

HP, on the other hand, is going through urgent restructuring plans. The company has suffered since the meteoric rise of mobile devices, and its once reliable PC business is struggling to keep its head above water.

What happens in Vegas...

CES is almost upon us. In other words, the ITProPortal team is about to fly out to Las Vegas for the biggest technology event of the year, where the great and good from our wonderful industry are gathered in order to blow us away with their brand new goodies.

Our diaries are packed with interview appointments, our cameras are fully-charged and our dedicated CES 2014 hub is officially open for action (opens in new tab), so make sure you stick with us for the biggest stories as soon as they break.

There'll be no shortage of things to talk about, but we're particularly looking forward to the 'Tech Titans' series of keynotes (featuring Yahoo Chief Marissa Mayer), the battle between Samsung and LG and seeing whether wearables will continue to disappoint or not. Check out our CES preview (opens in new tab) to really get yourself in the mood.

Image credit: Flickr (sofiabudapest (opens in new tab))