Dec 1 – 7

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This week’s headline story: Google and Amazon in Robot War

rockemsockemAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos fueled the nation’s imagination last week when he stated that Amazon deliveries may soon come by air directly to your doorstep. Bezos outlined a strategy that would utilize autonomous drone octocopters for 30 minute delivery direct to the customer’s door. “I know this looks like science fiction, it’s not,” Bezos said. The idea faces numerous hurdles including FAA restrictions against such flights that could put pedestrians at risk, and security and protection for the drones and the merchandise they carry. Some think that the futuristic Amazon announcement and associated video showing a drone delivery, are more about publicity than reality. Timing the announcement with the peak of the holiday shopping season puts Amazon at the front of everyone’s mind. And it’s worked. The announcement has gone viral on social media and is further fueled by all of the coverage it has received in media.

Drones wouldn’t be Amazon’s first venture into robotics. The company already uses robots in its warehouses to pick merchandise from shelves and deliver to humans for packaging and shipping.

Hot on the heals of Amazon’s announcement, newspapers began reporting about a new project from Google that has something to do with robotics. Recently Google has purchased several robotic companies that are now part of a project under the leadership of former Android head Andy Rubin. The companies that Google purchased specialize in humanoid robots, 3D vision and holonomic drive system –a combination that makes analysts guess that the company is working on some sort of general-purpose industrial robot.” Some are speculating that Google plans to take on Amazon in using robots for order fulfillment.

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • NSA Said To Collect 5 Billion Phone Location Reports Daily [NewsFactor]
    Further revelations about NSA snooping practices have the agency collecting 5 billion records of cellphone location data each day. According to a recent report from the Post, the NSA has collected so much cellphone location information that it is “outpacing it’s ability to ingest, process and store” the data.
  • Government Ends Investigation Into App’s Use of Customer Data [NewsFactor]
    A settlement has been reached between the FTC and app maker Goldenshores Technologies. Goldenshores is responsible for a free app named Brightest Flashlight for Android. Tens of millions of people downloaded the app unaware that while it was lighting their way, it was also transmitting their location information back to Goldenshores which was selling it to advertisers and “other interested parties.” The settlement prohibits Goldenshores from “misrepresenting how consumers’ information is collected and shared and how much control consumers have over the way their information is used.” It also requires the defendants to “provide a just-in-time disclosure that fully informs consumers when, how, and why their geolocation information is being collected, used and shared, and requires defendants to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before doing so.” The company is also responsible for deleting personally identifying data collected so far. However, once that information is sold to third parties, it becomes impossible to control. The story highlights the importance of considering what information you allow apps to access when you download install them.

and in Information Security news this week..

  • Database Hack Puts Social Media, Webmail Users at Risk [NewsFactor]
    A massive botnet named Pony, has harvested hundreds of thousands of Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yahoo account usernames and passwords from compromised computers around the world. The Pony botnet also collected credentials for 1.58 million Web site log ins, 320,000 e-mail accounts, 41,000 FTP accounts, 3,000 remote Relevant Products/Services desktops, and 3,000 shell accounts. Trustwave’s SpiderLabs, the company that cracked the botnet database, says that the majority of passwords stolen were simple, easy to guess passwords with four or less characters. This story serves to remind us all to change our passwords regularly, and use eight or more characters including numbers and symbols when creating passwords. As it sits now, millions of user account credentials are in the hands of hackers.

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