#469 July 18, 2016 – Battling Isis on Social Media

This week’s headline story: Battling ISIS on Social Media

anti-isis anti-isisThe U.S.-led coalition working to defeat the Islamic State, is battling the radical Islamic group on multiple fronts, including social media. They have countered jihadi online propaganda with a flood of online images and statements about suffering and enslavement at the hands of the extremist organization. Among the images: A teddy bear with Arabic writing and messages saying IS “slaughters childhood,” ”kills innocence,” ”lashes purity” or “humiliates children.” A male hand covering a female’s mouth, saying IS “deprives woman her voice.” The effort appears to be working. The Islamic State group’s Twitter traffic has plunged 45 percent over the past two years.

other Technology Headlines…

  • White House Announces $400M Initiative for 5G Wireless Tech [NewsFactor]
    Efforts to upgrade U.S. communications infrastructure to 5G technology just got a big boost from the federal government. The Obama Administration announced the launch of a $400 million Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, led by the National Science Foundation (NSF), designed to accelerate the deployment of next-generation wireless technology.
  • European Union and U.S. Agree on New Data-Sharing Rules [NewsFactor]
    Following months of negotiations and uncertainty, the US and EU have approved new data-sharing rules that they have named named Privacy Shield. Privacy Shield replaces the defunct Safe Harbor agreement providing US businesses with a simple, legal means by which to export the personal information of European Union citizens to the U.S.. Companies can register their compliance with Privacy Shield beginning August 1. U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said that for businesses, the new data flow framework will “facilitate more trade across our borders, more collaboration across the Atlantic, and more job creating investments in our communities. For consumers, the framework will ensure you have access to your favorite online services and the latest technologies, while strongly protecting your privacy.”
  • Germany to require ‘black box’ in autonomous cars [Reuters]
    Germany will require manufacturers of autonomous cars to install a black box to help determine responsibility in the event of an accident. The news comes less than two weeks after the fatal crash of a Tesla Model S car in its Autopilot mode.
  • Science on the verge of creating ’emotional’ computer [Phys.org]
    Researchers from the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI are developing an emotion-based artificial intelligence that has both narrative and emotional intellect. The new generation of AI will understand the context of what is going on, as well as unfolding scenarios and based on this information will make plans and set targets.

in Information Security News…

  • Pokémon Go down, target of DDoS attack [Computerworld]
    Many Pokemon Go enthusiasts were heartbroken over the weekend as they found themselves unable to login to the new augmented reality sensation. A hacking team called OurMine spent much of the weekend hitting Pokémon Go with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, leaving some players frustrated and unable to log in.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Amazon’s Prime Day Forces Rivals To Celebrate Black Friday in July [NewsFactor]
    Black Friday in July? Sure enough! Thanks to Amazon. Amazon’s Prime Day, offering Prime members Black Friday style deals, has forced all of its rivals to run similar sales. Macy’s “Black Friday in July” sale just concluded, while Best Buy is throwing an identically named sale on July 22 and 23. Both Kohl’s and Toys R Us are also offering extra discounts.

and finally,

  • AT&T Using Drones To Inspect Cell Towers [NewsFactor]
    AT&T is putting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – more commonly referred to as Drones, to work. The company is using drones to inspect its cell towers, and plans to use them to deploy extra wireless bandwidth at concerts and other densely populated events.

#468 July 11, 2016 – The Ethics of Killer Robots

This week’s headline story: The Ethics of Killer Robots

Northrop Grumman Robot used in Dallas
Northrop Grumman Robot used in Dallas

The use of a robot to kill the man who authorities say fatally shot five Dallas police officers has drawn attention in part because it’s the first time police have used robots in such a manner. After an hours-long standoff that included exchanges of gunfire, and threats of hidden explosives in the area, Dallas Police decided that the safest course of action – to avoid further casualties, was to use a robot to deliver an explosive that killed the gunman. Robots have been used by police bomb squads, in surveillance roles by SWAT teams and in standoffs with armed gunmen in a variety of examples. But never before to deliver lethal force within U.S. borders. Regarding ethics, Arthur Holland Michel, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in New York, cautions the public not to overreact. “These robots are not autonomous. They do not make decisions on their own. They are sophisticated remote-control systems.” Still, the tactic illustrates what police see as the new opportunities for self-defense presented by advancing technologies and the transfer of second-hand military equipment to local police departments. But it also raises difficult ethical questions about how and when such technologies should be deployed in a civilian setting to allow police to kill a suspect while facing little or no risk.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Huge Pokemon Go Craze Brings Malware and Muggers, for Real [NewsFactor]
    iOS version of Pokemon Go is a possible privacy train wreck [AIR techtorials]
    The new mobile game, Pokemon Go, is officially the latest craze! The augmented reality game that has users searching for Pokemon around the neighborhood, surpassed Twitter in the number of daily users on the Android mobile operating system — even as demand for the game caused Nintendo servers to crash. Nintendo’s stock price jumped by almost 25 percent this morning on the heels of last week’s release of the mobile game. However, it’s not all fun and games for the users. Police in Omaha as well as in several Missouri cities have reported that Pokemon Go players have been robbed. The players in Missouri were robbed after being lured to remote “Pokestops.” Other players have reported bruised shins and even broken bones sustained when they were too absorbed in the game to pay close attention to their surroundings. A Wyoming player had the unnerving experience of finding a dead body as she was playing the game. Hackers are taking advantage of the craze by posting malware disguised as Pokemon Go at 3rd party vendor sites. There are also privacy concerns over Pokeman Go on the iPhone, since signing into the app through Google currently gives the game full access to your Google account. Keep these dangers in mind if you decide to join in the fun!
  • UW, Microsoft researchers break record for DNA data storage [U Washington]
    University of Washington and Microsoft researchers have broken what they believe is the world record for the amount of digital data successfully stored — and retrieved — in DNA molecules. The team encoded and decoded 200MB of data including a video, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in more than 100 languages, the top 100 books of Project Gutenberg and the Crop Trust’s seed database all on strands of DNA.

in Information Security News…

  • Your smartwatch is giving away your ATM PIN [Binghamton University]
    Researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology and Binghamton University, have discovered a way to steal ATM PIN numbers from users wearing smart watches. By recording millimeter-level information of fine-grained hand movements from accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers inside the wearable technologies, the researchers were able to monitor the hand movement of a banker during PIN entry and calculate the PIN code with 90-percent accuracy.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • BlackBerry Ends Production of Classic Smartphone [NewsFactor]
    It was the device that launched the smartphone revolution, but this week, the classic BlackBerry smartphone is no more. The company has confirmed that it will no longer manufacture the iconic BlackBerry Classic with its trademark tactile keyboard

and finally,

  • Apple Releases iOS 10 and macOS Sierra in Public Beta [NewsFactor]
    iPhone and Mac fans who want to test out Apple’s latest operating systems can now download the public beta versions of both iOS 10 and macOS Sierra. Both were recently released, a few months before the final versions are launched in the fall.

 

#467 July 5, 2016 – Hummingbad Attacks Android

This week’s headline story: Hummingbad Attacks Android

android_malwareNew malware named Hummingbad, has targeted and infected over 85 million Android devices. Researchers have tied the malware to Yingmob, a Chinese advertising and analytics company. Once it successfully infects and sets up a rootkit on Android devices (giving it full administrative control), Hummingbad generates as much as $300,000 a month for Yingmob through fraudulent app installs and ad clicks. Not only that, but by infecting thousands of new devices each day, Yingmob can then use those devices in a botnet, enabling the group to launch more targeted attacks against businesses and government agencies, or even sell the access it has gained on the black market. This is the first example of a supposedly legitimate organization investing in malware development as a business tool to sustain and grow the company.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Zuckerberg Funds Andela To Train Elite Developers Across Africa [NewsFactor]
    Several years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his pediatrician wife Priscilla Chan created a limited liability company named ChanZuckerberg with the goal of “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” This week ChanZuckerberg made its first major investment in a young startup company called Andela. Andela aims to train highly skilled software developers across Africa who can then work remotely for companies around the world. The two-year-old company, raised $24 million in Series B funding led by the ChanZuckerberg initiative.

in Information Security News…

  • Millions of Health Records Appear for Sale on Dark Web [NewsFactor]
    A hacker on the dark web, using the name “thedarkoverlord,” is offering to sell a database with more than 9.3 million patient records for 750 Bitcoins, valued at around $485,000. The hacker’s market listing claimed the plaintext data belonged to “a large insurance healthcare organization in the United States.” No healthcare organization has yet confirmed the loss of the data.
  • White Hat Hacker Nabs Database of Terror Suspects [NewsFactor]
    A database containing the names of people suspected to be involved in terrorism and organized crime has been obtained by a white hat hacker who is deciding what to do with it. The records belong to World-Check Risk Screening, an organization that helps clients screen for heightened-risk individuals and entities globally to help uncover hidden risks in business relationships and human networks. That includes details about people and organizations suspected to be involved in money laundering, organized crime and terrorism.

and in Tech Industry News…

and finally,

  • Cyborg locusts with tattooed wings can sniff out bombs [Engadget]
    Researchers from the Washington University in St. Louis have found a new use for locusts. A three-year $750,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research, is enabling the researchers to implant electrodes into the insects brains, tattoo the bugs’ wings with biocompatible silk, and strap on little transmitter backpacks, transforming the big bugs into bomb-sniffing robots. The robobugs can be driven like a drone, and their highly sensitive antennae used to sniff out bombs much more accurately than robots in use today.

 

#466 June 28, 2016 – FBI Surveillance Denied! For now.

This week’s headline story: FBI Surveillance Denied! For now.

  • Senate Falls Short on Expansion of FBI Surveillance Authority [Ecommerce Times]
    Sens. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, Source: US News
    Sens. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, Source: US News

    Senate Blocks Access to Online Data Without Warrant [NewsFactor]
    The United States Senate narrowly rejected a Republican-backed amendment that would have given the FBI expanded authority to access the browser histories and other electronic records of suspected terrorist and targets of terrorism without first obtaining a warrant. The ruling is considered a big win for privacy advocates, and a doisapointment for law enforcement. But it’s not over yet! Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, switched his yes vote to no in a procedural move that allows him to bring the bill back for a second vote. The amendment only needs two more votes to pass, and several Senators were absent for the first vote.

other Technology Headlines…

  • U.S. to have 200-petaflop supercomputer by early 2018 [Computerworld]
    In response to China’s unveiling the world’s fastest supercomputer last week, The U.S. Dept. of Energy, has announced that the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is expecting an IBM system — named Summit, capable of 200 petaflops — in early 2018. China’s new Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer clocks in at 124,5 petaflops. However, in two years, China is likely to have a much faster supercomputer as well. China has set 2020 as the date for delivering the Tianhe-3, an exascale system 10 times the speed of it’s current record breaker.That doesn’t worry the DOE, which, in its statement, said the “strength of the U.S. program lies not just in hardware capability, but also in the ability to develop software that harnesses high-performance computing for real-world scientific and industrial applications.”

in Information Security News…

  • New ‘Godless’ Malware Targets Android Mobile Devices [NewsFactor]
    A new virus, named Godless, is attacking Android devices. It masquerades in innocent looking apps in Google Play and other app stores, and provides a backdoor to hackers once installed on the phone. Now would be a good time to install some antivirus software on your Android phone or tablet.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Microsoft revamps pushy Windows 10 upgrade process [Engadget]
    Microsoft Accused of Troublesome Tactics To Push Windows 10 [NewsFactor]
    Microsoft has irritated some of its users with overly aggressive and possibly shady notifications to upgrade to Windows 10. In some cases, Windows 7 and 8 users who don’t want to upgrade find Windows 10 being installed on their PC seemingly without their permission. After getting hit with a $10,000 settlement, Microsoft has pledged to clarify their upgrade notification to provide three clear options and a red X that actually closes the dialoguebox rather than scheduling the update for a later date.
  • Google Makes Two-Step Verification Easier With New Prompt [NewsFactor]
    Users of Google’s two-step verification will soon have an easier time of it. Rather than having to type a six digit code sent through text, they will soon be able to simply click a button on their phone served up by the Google Play Services app.
  • LinkedIn Report: Google Scoops Up and Keeps the Best Talent [NewsFactor]
    A new study by LinkedIn found that Google is best at recruiting and keeping top tech talent. Google is followed by Salesforce, Facebook, Apple Amazon, Uber, Microsoft, Tesla, Twitter and Airbnb.
  • Google Fiber Buys Gigabit ISP Webpass [NewsFactor]
    In its effort to cover the United States in high-speed wireless Internet, Google has purchased Webpass, a company that specializes in delivering Gigabit speed wireless Internet access.
  • Sources Say Google Prepping Its Own Smartphones: This Could Get Messy [NewsFactor]
    According to the UK’s Telegraph, Google has been talking with mobile service providers about releasing its own Google-branded smartphone. The new branded phone could enable Google to target a different, most likely higher-end, segment of the market than is targetted by typical Android smartphones from Samsung, HTC and others. The portion of the market currently owned by Apple.

 

#465 June 20, 2016 – China Blows away US in Supercomputer Development

This week’s headline story: China Blows away US in Supercomputer Development

china-supercomputerChina has revealed its latest supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight, a monolithic system with 10.65 million compute cores built entirely with Chinese microprocessors. This follows a U.S. government decision last year to deny China access to Intel’s fastest microprocessors over concerns that China was using its supercomputers for nuclear explosive testing activities.

There is no U.S.-made system that comes close to the performance of China’s new system, Its theoretical peak performance is 124.5 petaflops. It is the first system to exceed 100 petaflops. A petaflop equals one thousand trillion (one quadrillion) sustained floating-point operations per second. The world’s next fastest system, China’s Tianhe-2, has a peak performance of 54.9 petaflops using Intel Xeon processors. China has set 2020 as the date for delivering the Tianhe-3, an exascale system 10 times the speed of it’s current record breaker. China now has more supercomputers in the Top500 Supercomputer list than the U.S.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Toyota to build artificial intelligence-based driving systems in five years [Reuters]
    Are you ready to drive an intelligent car? One with a mind of it’s own? Well, Toyota is developing driver assistance systems that integrate artificial intelligence (AI) to improve vehicle safety. The concept of allowing vehicles to think, act and take some control from drivers to perform evasive maneuvers forms a key platform of Toyota’s efforts to produce a car that can drive automatically on highways by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
  • Pro-ISIS Online Groups Use Social Media Survival Strategies to Evade Authorities [IEE Spectrum]
    One of ISIS’ most dangerous weapons has been the Internet. The extremist group relies heavily on social media to spread news and recruit soldiers. A group of computer scientists led by Stefan Wuchty at University of Miami have published research that characterizes the fundamental way that terrorists and other groups use social media to organize themselves. The findings are being used to create an algorithm that may be able to predict the future behaviors of these groups, including when their activity escalates leading up to an event.
  • FCC Wins Huge Net Neutrality Victory Over Big Telecom [Ecommerce Times]
    Digital Rights Group Says Net Neutrality Decision a Win for All [NewsFactor]
    An appellate court on Tuesday handed a major victory to the Federal Communications Commission by upholding the agency’s watershed Open Internet Order, which ensures equal access to the Internet. The decision likely guarantees that the Internet won’t go the route of cable television, and that the public will be the ones to decide what sites and services we use online rather than companies like Comcast or AT&T. The ruling “is a tremendous and decisive win for all Americans,” says Sarah J. Morris of the Open Technology Institute, “The court’s decision recognizes the value of an open platform over which all voices have a space and all ideas can flourish,” said Morris.
  • Rubin Sees AI Quantum Computer Running the Show [Ecommerce Times]
    Android’s Andy Rubin: Future of Tech Is Quantum Computing and AI [NewsFactor]
    Between quantum computing and advancements in artificial intelligence, a conscious intelligence could emerge that would help form the foundation of every piece of technology, says Android Creator, Andy Rubin. Rubin, who also launched Google’s efforts in robotics, is now CEO of Playground, which together with Redpoint Ventures has invested in an unnamed startup working on quantum computing. New computing platforms emerge every 10-12 years, and the next platform will be based on data and people training AI systems to learn, Rubin said. Learn more using links in the show notes.
  • More Than 8 Billion Devices Worldwide Are Connected to the Internet [Newsfactor]
    A new study by London-based IHS Inc. has determined that at the end of 2015, there were 8.1 billion connected smartphones, tablets, personal computers, TVs, TV-attached devices and audio devices in use worldwide. The world population is currently at about 7.4 billion. The study found that on average, across the globe, the 8.1 billion total equates to around four devices per household.
  • New Driverless Vehicle Olli Is Watson-Powered [NewsFactor]
    There’s a new driverless vehicle in town. “Olli” is the product of IBM and Local Motors and uses IBM’s Watson AI as its driver. Not only can this vehicle maneuver the roads, but it can converse with passengers along the way, answering in-depth questions about its own inner workings, making restaurant suggestions based on an analysis of an individual’s personal preferences, or fielding the age-old question, “Are we there yet?” Olli made its debut on public roads in Washington, D.C., last week, and will begin operating in Las Vegas later this year. Miami-Dade County in Florida is also developing a pilot program that would use a group of Ollis for public transportation.

in Information Security News…

  • Air, Land, Sea, Cyber: NATO Adds Cyber to Operation Areas [NewsFactor]
    NATO agreed Tuesday to make cyber operations part of its war domain, along with air, sea and land operations, and to beef up the defense of its computer networks. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the decision to formally consider cyber operations a military domain is not aimed at any one country. He says the allies need to be able to better defend themselves and respond to attacks on their computer networks.
  • Did It for Orlando: ISIS Twitter Sites Hacked To Support Gay Pride [NewsFactor]
    The hacker group Anonymous is retaliating against terror and showing support for LGBTQ community in its own unique way. The hacker collective took over several social media accounts managed by the terrorist group ISIS and its supporters, replacing images of bloodshed and violence with rainbows and affirmations of gay pride. “I did it for the lives lost in Orlando,” said the Anonymous hacker who goes by the online handle WauchulaGhost. “Daesh [ISIS] has been spreading and praising the attack, so I thought I would defend those that were lost.”
  • New York criminalizes the use of ticket-buying bots [engadget]
    A three-year investigation by NY’s attorney general has uncovered widespread use of ticket scalping bots programmed to scoop up hundreds of prime seats for concerts within seconds of the tickets going on sale. Scalpers then resell the tickets at prices many times over face value. Using such bots was illegal before, but only brought civil charges. Scalpers who exploit such software could now face criminal, class A misdemeanor charges.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • WatchOS 3 Offers New Hope for Smartwatch Category [Ecommerce Times]
    Apple WWDC: Developer Conference Keynote Brings Big Promises [NewsFactor]
    Apple Rolls Out Privacy-Sensitive Artificial Intelligence [MIT Tech Review]
    The big news from Apple’s WWDC is all about OS and AI. CEO Tim Cook says that the upgrade to iOS coming this fall will be “the mother of all releases.” Apple also unveiled a new macOS, formerly known as OS X, a new watchOS and tvOS.
    A new, more intelligent Siri is in the works, and Apple Photos is getting face, object and scene recognition for sorting, grouping and categorizing photographs. Although late to the game compared to Google and Facebook, Apple’s face recognition claims to treat your data with respect for privacy, analyzing photos on the device rather than sending them to the cloud. Finally, Apple is releasing Swift Playgrounds, a coding education app that teaches Apple’s Swift programming language. Read more about it, using links in the show notes.
  • Symantec Buys Blue Coat for $4.65B To Create Cybersecurity Giant [Newsfactor]
    Security company Symantec is spending $4.65 billion to acquire Web and cloud security firm Blue Coat, creating a cybersecurity behemoth for the enterprise market. Combined, the companies will generate around $4.4 billion in revenues this fiscal year, more than 60 percent of which is expected to come from enterprise security.

 

#464 June 13, 2016 – Facebook Wants to Know, Are you Safe?

Techminded News of the
Week

Episode
464 06/13/2016

This week’s headline story: Facebook wants to know – Are you safe?

facebook_safetycheckIn the aftermath of the weekend’s horrendous mass shooting in Orlando, Facebook stepped up to provide a new service to those in the vicinity. Facebook’s “Safety Check” tool allowed those around the Orlando club to quickly let their Facebook friends know if they were safe. The tool asks Facebook users who are in the affected area if they are safe. With a click of a button, those in danger can quickly notify their friends about their safety. Facebook has activated Safety Check 18 times this year compared to 11 instances in the previous two years. The recent disasters for which the tool was activated included earthquakes in Ecuador, a wildfire in Alberta, Canada, a cyclone in Bangladesh and flooding and landslides in Sri Lanka.. This was the first time the service was used in the U.S.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Cisco Says Global IP Traffic To Triple by 2020 [NewsFactor]
    Global IP traffic is expected to triple over the next five years, as a result of more than 1 billion new Internet users coming online before 2020, according to Cisco. As many as 10 billion new devices may join the Internet in that time, bringing the total number of connected devices up to 26.3 billion from the 16.3 billion that were connected in 2015.
  • Google moves closer to a universal quantum computer [nature]
    For 30 years, researchers have pursued the universal quantum computer, a device that could solve any computational problem, with varying degrees of success. Now, computer scientists at Google, and physicists at the University of California/Santa Barbara and the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain, have made an experimental prototype of such a device that can not only solve a wide range of difficult problems, but can also be scaled up to larger systems. Quantum computing expert Daniel Lidar says that while the new Google device is still very much a prototype, in a couple of years, devices with more than 40 qubits could become a reality. “At that point,” he says, “it will become possible to simulate quantum dynamics that is inaccessible on classical hardware, which will mark the advent of ‘quantum supremacy’.”

in Information Security News…

  • Companies Are Stockpiling Bitcoin to Pay Off Cybercriminals [MIT Technology Review]
    New research suggests that companies are now stockpiling the digital currency, Bitcoin so that they can quickly pay off hackers who hold their data for ransom using malicious software. According to MIT Technology Review, one third of the 250 companies surveyed, said that they were stockpiling the currency. Half of respondents in the Citrix survey said that company data was not backed up daily – which is the best defense against ransomware.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Your Phone May Soon Sense Everything Around You [NewsFactor]
    Google shows what Tango is capable of in 3 new videos
    [Android Authority]
    Google’s Tango Aims To Map the Great Indoors [NewsFactor]
    Lenovo’s Tango Phone
    A new mobile technology from Google named “Tango” utilizes smart phone sensors to map interior spaces. Users of Tango can try out virtual furniture in their home prior to purchasing it, or adopt a virtual pet that runs around the house, or play games that integrate with their environment. The first Tango-enabled phone is being manufactured by Lenovo and is expected to hit the market later this year or in early 2017.
  • Google Demos How Android Apps Will Run on Chromebooks [NewsFactor]
    Google Chromebooks will soon be able to run Android apps. The new capability will bring thousands of new apps to the Chrome platform widely expanding the capabilities of the cloud-based system. Google expects to launch the updated version of Chrome for the general public later this year.
  • Alphabet Aims To Connect Homes to Internet via High-Speed Wi-Fi [NewsFactor]
    Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has acknowledged that it is exploring the possibility of deploying gigabit Internet service to homes over WIRELESS technology as an alternative to Google Fiber in some areas. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said high-speed wireless technology has appeared to reach a point where it’s become affordable to deploy. However, he added, “We don’t have anything to announce yet.”
  • Samsung Reportedly Launching Bendable Phones in 2017 [NewsFactor]
    Lenovo Unveils Bendable Phone That Can Be Worn Like a Watch [NewsFactor]
    Bendable phones are almost here! Samsung plans to release mobile devices with flexible displays as soon as early 2017. One of the phones would feature a five-inch screen that could be unfolded into an even larger, 8-inch display. Lenovo has unveiled a prototype of a phone that can bend around your wrist, as well as a concept tablet that can fold to act as a regular smartphone.
  • Microsoft to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion [The Verge]
    Microsoft has announced that it plans to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. Microsoft is positioning the combination as the “world’s leading professional cloud” together with the “world’s leading professional network.”
  • Yahoo Puts More Than 3,000 Patents on Auction Block [NewsFactor]
    Yahoo is auctioning off more than 3,000 of its technology patents as part of a purge that also could culminate in the sale of its Internet operations. Analysts have estimated that Yahoo Inc.’s patents are worth more than $1 billion.
  • Verizon To Bid $3 Billion for Yahoo’s Core Business, Report Says [NewsFactor]
    According to the Wall Street Journal, Verizon is expected to bid $3 billion for Yahoo’s core Internet business. Last year, Verizon acquired AOL Inc., and analysts have said that buying Yahoo could give Verizon more scale on the Internet.
  • Twitter Sale ‘Inevitable’ if Company Continues To Struggle, Analyst Says [NewsFactor]
    Analysts are speculating that Twitter may soon be ripe for acquisition. “We do not think the company is up for sale in the near term,” wrote Bob Peck, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “However, we believe that if current trends persist, Twitter would be a top candidate in 2017.” Google, Facebook, Apple and traditional media companies are the most likely buyers, he wrote.

 

#463 June 6, 2016 – AI Gets Real

This week’s headline story: AI Gets Real

irobot-glance-300x170The “AI dream is finally arriving” according to Bill Gates, who spoke at the Code Conference in Southern California. “This is what it was all leading up to” Gates said. He believes that enough progress has been made to ensure that in the next 10 years there will be robots managing tasks like driving and warehouse work and AI’s that out pace humans in certain areas of knowledge. He also mentioned that it could be a major concern for the future of humanity.

The Obama administration agrees. Last week, the White House hosted the first of four workshops to examine how to address an increasingly AI-powered world. The participants are considering how to regulate and use powerful AI technology while it is still dependent on humans. “One thing we know for sure is that AI is making policy challenges already, such as how to make sure the technology remains safe, controllable, and predictable, even as it gets much more complex and smarter,” said Ed Felten, the deputy US chief of science and technology policy. “Some of these issues will become more challenging over time as the technology progresses, so we’ll need to keep upping our game.”

Meanwhile Google is upping its game when it comes to providing safeguards against an AI takeover. As Google develops artificial intelligence that has smarter-than-human capabilities, it’s teamed up with Oxford University researchers to create a panic button to interrupt a potentially rogue AI agent. The researches have proposed a framework that allows humans to repeatedly and safely interrupt an AI agent’s reinforcement learning while simultaneously blocking its ability to learn how to prevent a human operator from turning off its machine-learning capabilities.

other Technology Headlines…

  • EU Links Up With Twitter, Tech Firms To Combat Hate Speech [NewsFactor]
    The European Union reached an agreement with some of the world’s biggest social media firms, including Facebook and Twitter, on ways to combat the spread of hate speech online. Under the terms of a code of conduct, the firms have committed to “quickly and efficiently” tackle illegal hate speech directed against anyone over issues of race, color, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin. Social media sites have often been used by terrorist organizations to relay messages and entice hatred against certain individuals or groups.

in Information Security News…

  • Google plans to replace smartphone passwords with trust scores [New Scientist]
    Google Has a Plan to Kill Off Passwords [MIT Technology Review]
    Sick and tired of remembering passwords?
    Google’s working to do away with them on Android devices. Daniel Kaufman, head of Google’s advanced technology projects, announced that the company plans to phase out password access to its Android mobile platform in favor of a trust score by 2017. Your trust score would be based on a suite of identifiers such as what Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth devices you’re connected to and your location, along with biometrics, including your typing speed, voice and face. The phone’s sensors will harvest this data continuously to keep a running tally on how much it trusts that the user is you. A low score will suffice for opening a gaming app. But a banking app will require more trust.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Intel Goes Extreme With 10-Core Desktop Chips [NewsFactor]
    Intel has unveiled four new extreme chips designed for content creators and gamers. They come with six, eight or 10 cores. The 10-core model alone will set you back a cool $1,723.
  • Uber and Lyft Drivers Are Safer than the Average American Driver [NewsFactor]
    A new study by automotive analytics firm Zendrive and research firm Aite GroupDrivers found that drivers for ride-hailing services Uber, Lyft, and HopSkipDrive are generally safer than the average American driver. The research compared data collected anonymously from the smartphones of about 12,000 ride-hailing drivers across the U.S. to millions of data points from trips taken by average American drivers and found that ride-hailing drivers were less likely to speed, drive aggressively or fumble with their phones during a trip.

 

#462 May 31, 2016 – Floppy Disks in Washington

This week’s headline story: Floppy Disks in Washington

floppyAccording to a recent report, the US government is spending three quarters of its $80 billion technology budget maintaining archaic computer systems that support critical areas from nuclear weapons to Social Security. Amazingly, some of these systems are so old that they depend on floppy disks to operate. The ongoing investment in these ancient systems comes at the cost of modernization.

The White House HAS been pushing to replace legacy systems, some of which date back more than 50 years. But the government is expected to spend $7 billion less on modernization in 2017 than it did back in 2010, said the Government Accountability Office. “Clearly, there are billions wasted,” GAO information technology expert David Powner told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at a hearing.

other Technology Headlines…

  • E Ink Unveils New Full Color Display [NewsFactor]
    The eInk and ePaper that was introduced with the first Kindle, is entering a new phase of development: Color! The new electrophoretic display technology is named Advanced Color ePaper (ACeP) and brings a full color array to every pixel on the display. Like regular E Ink ePaper, ACeP maintains the ultra-low power and paper-like readability under all lighting conditions, the company said. The technology will be primarily used for digital signage at first.
  • Facebook and Microsoft Team On Transatlantic High-Speed Data Cable [NewsFactor]
    This August, Facebook and Microsoft will belaunching a 14-month-long project to lay 6,600 kilometers (4,100 miles) of high-speed cable across the Atlantic, from Virginia Beach to Bilbao, Spain.
    The companies said the system — designed to support the fast-growing demand for cloud and online services — will be the highest-capacity subsea cable ever across that span. Composed of eight fiber pairs, the cable will have an initial estimated data-carrying capacity of 160 terabytes per second.
  • House Republicans Move To Eliminate Net Neutrality [NewsFactor]
    The battle over Net Neutrality continues. A new proposal by House Republicans would effectively put an end to net neutrality while slashing funding for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The legislation would reduce the agency’s funding by more than 17 percent, leaving the agency crippled and incapable of enforcing its regulations. While Obama is likely to veto any legislation that would block one of the key initiatives of his FCC chairman, Republicans are likely to continue the fight against Net neutrality with the next president.

in Information Security News…

  • The most followed account on Twitter has been hacked [Engadget]
    Twitter’s most popular user, with 89 million followers, Katy Perry, had her account hacked. After briefly spewing a few vulgar and racist tweets the incident was quickly cleaned up, with no indication of exactly what went down.
  • Researchers: Asian Bank Hacks May Be Linked to North Korea [NewsFactor]
    Cybersecurity researchers say North Korea might be connected to a recent attack that resulted in the theft of over $100 million from the Bangladeshi central bank and the attempted thefts of millions more from other Asian banks. Security researchers at Symantec say that the malware used in the bank attacks is similar to that used in the past by a group sponsored by the North Korean government.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Microsoft Drastically Scales Down Smartphone Biz [Ecommerce Times]
    More Job Cuts Signal Microsoft’s Flee from the Phone Business [NewsFactor]
    Microsoft seems to be backing away from the smartphone business. Last week, the company announced that it would be cutting 1,850 jobs from its mobile division. “We are focusing our phone efforts where we have differentiation — with enterprises that value security, manageability and our Continuum capability, and consumers who value the same,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft is also selling off its feature phone brand and design business to Finland-based HMD Mobile.
  • PayPal Deep Sixes Windows, BlackBerry and Amazon Apps [NewsFactor]
    PayPal has announced that it is abandoning its apps for Microsoft Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Amazon Fire OS and focusing on Apple IOS and Google Android that together account for 97 percent of phone sales.
  • Apple Reportedly Prepping Siri SDK Launch Ahead of WWDC [NewsFactor]
    Apple appears to be ready to unveil a smart home device controlled by Siri. The new device would resemble Amazon’s Echo that responds to voice commands to provide useful information and services. Google announced a similar device last week called Google Home. Advances in artificial intelligence are expected to improve our device’s ability to understand what we say, leading to what analysts are referring to as the “voice-first” revolution where we speak instead of type.

 

#461 May 23, 2016 – Google Products Get Smarter!

This week’s headline story: Google Products Get Smarter!

GOOGLE-HomeCompanies are investigating BIG in artificial intelligence, and this past week Google provided a peek at what it’s been working on in the area or AI at it’s annual Developers Conference. This year’s conference was all about SMARTER! Smarter artificial intelligence, smarter messaging services, smarter home technology, and smarter smartphones.

Google has ramped up its efforts in machine learning with a powerful new artificial intelligence tool named Google Assistant. According to Google, about 20% of searches done on Android phones are voice searches. Google Assistant will expand on that service using smarter voice recognition and natural language learning. Users can have a conversation with the virtual assistant, ask for movie recommendations, book tickets and perform complex searches.

Google has also unveiled a home table-top device named Google Home. Similar to Amazon Echo, Google Home is always listening, waiting for a command to play music, adjust the home temperature, run a Google search, order meals, send flowers or book rides.

Finally, Google announced a new chip it has developed named the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) that accelerates the process of machine learning. Google’s TPU excels at tasks such as data analysis and voice translation.

In addition to AI products, Google also unveiled a new messaging app named Allo, and a new one-on-one video calling app named Duo, the newest version of Android named Android N with a Virtual Reality mode, and Daydream, a virtual reality platform for Android.

in Information Security News…

  • LinkedIn Passwords from 117M Accounts Hacked and Up for Sale [NewsFactor]
    A four-year-old data breach at LinkedIn has returned to haunt the professional networking site, with the recent discovery that 117 million user emails and passwords were being offered for sale on the dark Web.
    LinkedIn says it is “moving swiftly” to address the issue by working to invalidate passwords for at-risk accounts and contacting individual users to advise them to reset their passwords.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • IDC: Google Chromebooks Outsell Macs for the First Time [NewsFactor]
    While PC sales have been declining globally, one type of PC has seen increasing sales this year in the U.S. Is it Windows? of Macs? No! It’s Google’s cloud-based Chromebooks, that have been performing strongly, especially in the education sector. In fact, Chromebooks from Dell, HP and Lenovo were — for the first time — stronger than sales of Apple’s Macs during the first quarter of this year.
  • Apple’s New SF Store Showcases Jony Ive’s Design Vision [Wired]
    Apple stores will be getting an update. A flagship store sporting the new design has opened in the heart of San Francisco, in Union Square. The new design blends indoor and outdoor environments, with a lot os space dedicated to hanging out. Take the video tour using the links in the show notes.

 

#460 May 16, 2016 – Facebook’s Trending Topic is the Trending Topic

This week’s headline story: Facebook’s Trending Topic is the Trending Topic

zuchWill “Trending topics” become a “trending” topic on Facebook? Last week tech blog Gizmodo published an article claiming that Facebook downplays politically conservative news topics on its trending topics list in favor of more liberal topics. The new media lit up with reactions to the Gizmodo story with everyone asking for details on the news filtering and manipulation practices at Facebook. Facebook denies that it applies ANY bias to its Trending topics selections. The company says a series of checks and balances — involving both software formulas and humans — ensures that stories displayed in the “trending topics” section aren’t biased.

In other news:

  • Microsoft Study Shows Digital Infrastructure Overtaking Physical [NewsFactor]f
    A new study from Microsoft titled “The Digital Revolution, Powered by Cloud” found that organizations now rely more on digital infrastructures than they do on physical infrastructures. Today 51 percent of organizational infrastructure is digital, compared with physical. In two years, its expected to rise to 57 percent. The study also found that 95 percent of customers intend to renew their contracts with their primary cloud and hosting providers, indicating a high degree of customer loyalty.
  • Disney Brings RFID Magic To Make Objects Smart [NewsFactor]
    A team of researchers from Disney and Carnegie Mellon University have developed a way to use RFID tags for near-real-time interactions with a wide variety of objects. The new system, called RapID, uses probabilistic models to enable computers to quickly read the movements of RFID-enabled objects to play games and identify other real-world actions. Because RFID tags are passive devices that don’t require batteries or wiring they could be applied to, printed onto or drawn on almost any object, from a piece of paper to a human granting the object basic processing capabilities. The research provides new inexpensive capabilities for objects on the Internet of Things.

in Information Security News…

  • Banks Beware: Another Day, Another Cyberattack [NewsFactor]
    A new cyberattack has been made against an unnamed bank, part of a coordinated campaign that follows February’s theft of $101 million from the Bangladesh central bank. International money transfer firm, Swift stated that “the attackers clearly exhibit a deep and sophisticated knowledge of specific operational controls within the targeted banks” and urged clients to urgently review their security systems.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Apple Watch gains yet another ‘killer app’ [Computerworld]
    Apple Pay remains the killer app for Apple Watch, but a new home security solution from Dutch smart home firm, smanos, may convince more people of the value of having the Internet on their writst. The company has released three new Apple Watch apps that integrate with the company’s home security solutions so that Apple Watch users are alerted when sensors are triggered. Users can also use the Apple Watch app to arm and disarm their security systems (no pun intended).
  • Google To Ban Payday Lending Ads, Calling Industry ‘Harmful’ [NewsFactor]
    Internet giant Google has announced that it will ban all ads from payday lenders, calling the industry “deceptive” and “harmful.” The Payday Loan industry joins Google’s other banned categories of ads, such as counterfeit goods, weapons, explosives, tobacco products and hate speech.
  • Why Apple Is Investing $1 Billion in Didi, China’s Version of Uber [NewsFactor]
    Apple has invested $1-billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing. With sales of iPhones slowing on mainland China and Apple running into trouble with regulators there, the Cupertino, Calif., company may see its investment as a source of new revenue streams and goodwill in the massive market. Didi says it works with more than 14 million drivers in 400 Chinese cities and has 300 million users who place 11 million ride orders a day.