In today’s Bulldog wrapup of tech and biotech news: Cisco warns about a vulnerability in its Internet phones; Google’s Eric Schmidt backs Glass; researchers to seek gluten-free wheat; Square’s “Cash” app for businesses; and Ikea drops its online magazine in Russia over gay law concerns.

The details:

  • Cisco’s vulnerability warning

Here’s the advisory issued by Cisco about a vulnerability in its Internet phones:

A vulnerability in the firmware of the Cisco Small Business SPA 300 and 500 series IP phones could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to listen to the audio stream of an IP phone.

The vulnerability is due to improper authentication settings in the default configuration. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a crafted XML request to the affected device. An exploit could allow the attacker to listen to a remote audio stream or make phone calls remotely.

Cisco has confirmed the vulnerability; however, software updates are not available.

Warning Indicators

At the time this alert was first published, Cisco Small Business SPA 300 and 500 Series IP phones version 7.5.5 was vulnerable. Later versions of Cisco Small Business SPA 300 and 500 Series IP phones may also be vulnerable.

IntelliShield Analysis

To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker may need access to trusted, internal networks behind a firewall to send crafted XML requests to the targeted device. This access requirement may reduce the likelihood of a successful exploit.

Cisco would like to thank Chris Watts of Tech Analysis for reporting this vulnerability.


An unauthenticated, remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability to listen to a remote audio stream from an affected device or to gain access to make phone calls remotely. A successful exploit could be used to conduct further attacks.

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  • ​Eric Schmidt: Google not abandoning Glass

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Google Executive Chair Eric Schmidt says the company is still committed to its Glass wireless Internet equipped devices.Google stopped selling Glass recently through its Explorer program.

“It is a big and very fundamental platform for Google,” Schmidt said. “We ended the Explorer program and the press conflated this into us canceling the whole project, which isn’t true. Google is about taking risks and there’s nothing about adjusting Glass that suggests we’re ending it.”

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  • Researchers seek gluten-free grain

New research funded by farmers aims to breed a wheat variety for people who can’t eat wheat and other grains, an endeavor that comes as wider consumer interest in gluten-free foods is booming.

The Kansas Wheat Commission is spending $200,000 for the first two years of the project, which is meant to identify everything in wheat’s DNA sequences that can trigger a reaction in people suffering from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which eating even tiny amounts of gluten — comprised of numerous, complex proteins that gives dough its elasticity and some flavor to baked goods — can damage the small intestine. The only known treatment for it is a gluten-free diet, not eating foods that contain wheat, rye, and barley.

Though celiac disease is four to five times more common now than 50 years ago, only about 1 percent of the world’s population is believed to suffer from it, and just a fraction have been diagnosed. But the gluten-free food business has skyrocketed in the last five years, driven in part by non-celiac sufferers who are either intolerant to gluten or following a gluten-free fad diet because they believe it may help them lose weight or that it’s somehow healthier.

Sales of gluten-free snacks, crackers, pasta, bread and other products reached $973 million in the U.S. in 2014, up from $810 million the previous year, according to a January report by consumer research firm Packaged Facts, which analyzed the sales of hundreds of explicitly labeled and marketed gluten-free products and brands at supermarkets, drugstores, and mass merchandisers.

  • Square’s new app for cash transfers

Payment startups Square is rolling out a cash-transfer app that will require businesses to pay a 1.5 percent fee, according to The Wall Street Journak.

The chief of the Cash service, Brian Grassadonia, said the move will allow businesses to more easily accept payments that would otherwise be made with cash or checks.

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  • Ikea drops online magazine in Russia

Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, says it is halting its online magazine in Russia out of fears it violates the country’s law banning promotion of same-sex gay values to minors.

The Swedish retailer says its magazine IKEA Family Live “demonstrates various aspects of home life regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation.”

In a Russian language statement, IKEA said “we understand that some material in our magazine can be considered as propaganda,” adding it had decided “to stop the publication of the magazine in Russia.”

The law passed in 2013 bans promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” to people under the age of 18.