Updates from March, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 12:04 pm on March 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Will iPhone users divorce Siri in favor of Alexa? 

    Will iPhone users divorce Siri in favor of Alexa?

    Have you ever wanted to have the full capabilities of an Amazon Echo but couldn’t afford one since you spent all your money on having the latest and greatest iPhone? Well, fret no more as Amazon’s app on iOS now has full Echo capability.

    With its latest update, the iOS Amazon app now allows you to access the Echo functionality from your iPhone. Some are even saying that it’s a much better alternative to Apple’s built-in assistant Siri. While Siri has been around a lot long than the Echo, many Apple users still say that it’s buggy and glitchy to the point of being not very helpful.

    Also with the new Echo app, you don’t have to worry about jokers saying “Alexa, buy me a doll house” around your iPhone. With the Amazon app you actually have to press the microphone button within the app before Alexa will respond.

    While now, it’s only out for iOS devices, Amazon says that it should be available to Android devices shortly.

  • Geebo 9:52 am on March 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    So what exactly did the Russian hackers get from Yahoo? 

    So what exactly did the Russian hackers get from Yahoo

    As was posted yesterday, the Department of Justice did indict four hackers believed to be involved with the massive data breaches that have plagued Yahoo over the past few years. The alleged hackers have been identified as Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, 29, and Karim Baratov, 22. Dokuchaev and Sushchin are said to be Russian intelligence agents while Belan and Baratov were hired by the aforementioned agents. The only one of the four to be arrested was Baratov since he was living in Canada at the time of his arrest. The other three suspects are currently in Russia which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

    So while the hacks exposed hundreds of millions of Yahoo accounts, only a minority of those accounts turned out to be valuable to the hackers. Among those accounts were those of Russian journalists and cybersecurity experts. Considering Russia’s track record of allegedly targeting and suppressing opposition against the regime this should come as no surprise. Outside of Russia, targets included a Nevada gaming official, a high-ranking executive in a US airline and the CTO of a French transportation company.

    For the average Yahoo Mail user this means that you probably weren’t targeted by the Russians and your Aunt Betty’s recipe for peach cobbler is probably safe, however, it is recommended that you update your password if you haven’t done so in a while or consider moving to a more secure platform that hasn’t been hacked to the tune of 500 million users.

    On the geopolitical scale these hacks could be seen as the start of a new type of cold war where the battlefield is through cyberspace rather than blocs of puppet governments. While the battle may be contained to a confined virtual space that doesn’t make the possible outcomes any less concerning.

  • Geebo 9:51 am on March 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    DOJ to charge four in Yahoo hacks 

    DOJ to charge four in Yahoo hacks

    It seems that the Yahoo hacks have been in the news forever. For the past few months we’ve been hearing about hack after hack after hack that exposed hundreds of millions of accounts to the masses. The data breaches were so bad not only did it cause Verizon to ask for a $350 million dollar discount in their purchase of Yahoo, but it also basically cost Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer her job. Now a new chapter in the Yahoo hack saga has developed.

    Bloomberg is reporting that the Department of Justice has discovered the identity of four hackers they believe are at least partly responsible for the Yahoo data breaches. According to sources close to the situation, the DOJ believes one of the hackers to be in Canada and four to be in Russia.

    While the Canadian hacker might be easy to extradite, the problem may be with the three Russian hackers. Despite what you feel about alleged relationships between the current administration and Russia, the DOJ seems to believe that the Russian hackers are state-sponsored. Even if there are friendly relations between the two administrations will Russia be willing to extradite these alleged hackers to the US? That remains to be seen and could be the most interesting chapter in this saga.

  • Geebo 9:58 am on March 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Thomas McInerney,   

    Marissa Mayer to step down as Yahoo CEO. New CEO to make twice as much 

    Marissa Mayer to step down as Yahoo CEO. New CEO to make twice as much

    As was expected, it was announced yesterday that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer would be stepping down from her position as Verizon is set to take over the company. Mayer was put in the unenviable position of trying to turn around an already failing company. While she made many bold moves, such as buying popular micro-blogging site Tumblr, fortune did not favor her in this endeavor due to the many security breaches Yahoo had under her watch. As was posted before, Mayer will be receiving a $23 million golden parachute with her departure.

    In the new infrastructure, Mayer will be replaced by Thomas McInerney, the former chief executive of IAC. What’s making headlines about McInerney’s new position is that he’ll be reportedly making twice as much as Mayer did for half the amount of trouble. After the Verizon takeover is complete, McInerney’s responsibilities will more than likely be half that of Mayer since Verizon’s already existing corporate infrastructure will handle the brunt of Yahoo’s previous problems.

    Is this some hyperbolic form of the gender wage gap in America? Is Verizon reinforcing the stereotypical tradition of the old boys network? Only time will tell.

  • Geebo 12:07 pm on March 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , sxsw,   

    Did Austin miss Uber and Lyft during SXSW? 

    Did Austin miss Uber and Lyft during SXSW?

    This past weekend the infamous tech and entertainment festival known as South by Southwest (SXSW) took place in the Southwest’s capital of cool, Austin, Texas. During the festival on Saturday night, the skies opened up, and rain descended upon ATX. Many of the revelers wanted to get a ride back to their hotels, but their requests for ride shares went unheeded.

    In a lot of hip cities like Austin, you can get a ride from ride sharing apps Uber or Lyft. Last May, both of those services left Austin due to new regulations the city imposed on ride sharing services. The city wanted Uber and Lyft to do fingerprint background checks on their drivers much to the protests of the two leading ride sharing companies. Rather than fingerprint their drivers, Uber and Lyft preferred to leave town leaving Austin with no ride sharing services.

    Much like nature, commerce abhors a vacuum, and it didn’t take long for new services to take the place of Uber and Lyft that were willing to play ball with the city. Those services are Ride Austin and Fasten. The problem with these new services is they didn’t seem to have the capabilities of scale that their predecessors had when the rains started to fall.

    Due to the massive traffic to the respective apps, the apps crashed hard and left both riders and drivers stranded. Both companies were said to have server issues and claim that the issues were resolved by Sunday.

    Both tourists and locals lamented the absence of both Lyft and Uber, but will that situation ever be resolved? Is the city being too protective of the city’s taxi services, or are Uber and Lyft being unreasonable by not fingerprinting their drivers?

  • Geebo 10:56 am on March 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Uber to stop using Greyball, sort of 

    Uber to stop using Greyball, sort of

    After it was revealed that ride sharing app Uber was using a program called Greyball, to fluster anti-Uber investigators, Uber now claims that they will stop using Greyball, to an extent.

    Uber says that they will stop using Greyball to deceive authorities but will keep the program in effect to test new features, use in marketing promotions, prevent fraud, and to protect their drivers.

    Can Uber actually be trusted to keep their word though? Uber has been embroiled in scandal after scandal after scandal, from something innocuous as defying a taxi protest in New York to unsettling claims of sexual harassment among executives. Uber has not really made a good faith gesture toward its users or employees to try to garner any positive PR. Uber has not appeared to acted genuine in any way, shape or form, since these controversies have started and have even admitted that their drivers are working in areas where they’ve been banned by law. Yet there has yet to be any major consumer backlash against this company that appears to be engaging in bad business practices.

    What will it take for Uber to either ingratiate themselves back in the good graces of the tech world or for them to fall from atop their industry dominance?

  • Geebo 10:58 am on March 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: filters, International Women's Day,   

    Snapchat sparks controversy with International Women’s Day filters 

    Snapchat sparks controversy with International Women's Day filters

    After its successful IPO, photo sharing app Snapchat finds itself in the news again, but not for the same reasons. Since yesterday was International Women’s Day, Snapchat decided to release new filters in honor of the day. With the filters you could make yourself look like either scientist Marie Curie, artist Frida Kahlo, or civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

    A controversy started when some things were noticed about two of the filters. With the Marie Curie filter, not only did it thin out your face but it also gave you full eye make up for some reason. Many considered this to be wildly historically inaccurate. With the Frida Kahlo filter, it seemed to lighten the skin tone while trying to make the user look like the Mexican artist. A number of Snapchat users took to social media to decry this as an instance of ‘whitewashing’.

    Surprisingly, the filter that didn’t cause too much of a kerfuffle was the Rosa Parks filter. With the Rosa Parks filter, it didn’t change the skin tone of the user even though Ms. Parks was African-American. This could be that Snapchat learned from a previous controversy when they released a filter for reggae artist Bob Marley’s birthday which many users said was nothing more than applying ‘blackface’ to the user.

    Even with Snapchat’s faux pas there is something good that can be taken from their attempt to highlight these historical women with their whimsical filters. Snapchats userbase tends to skew young and some of these young people may not have yet learned about these three iconic women from history, and these filters may have sparked an interest into researching them. And nothing is wrong with a little bit more knowledge.

  • Geebo 11:47 am on March 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CIA, Vault 7, wikileaks   

    Wikileaks shares massive CIA hacking tricks. Does it affect you? 

    WIkileaks shares massive CIA hacking tricks. Does it affect you?

    Yesterday, whistle blowing website Wikileaks released a treasure trove of supposedly leaked information from the CIA dubbed Vault 7. Within the information are alleged plans the CIA uses to hack into virtually any internet connected device and use it as a monitoring device. Purportedly, the CIA can use malware to circumvent any operating system from Windows to MacOS to Linux and mobile OSes Android and iOS. iOs seems to be a favorite target of the CIA due to the number of high-ranking and powerful people who use iPhones.

    The good news is, if any good news can be taken from this, is that the CIA’s actions do not appear to be targeting every device held by everyday citizens. Instead, the CIA appears to be using their malware to target specific individuals rather than entire swaths of the population. So the average American citizen probably has nothing to worry about. However, with this supposed CIA code now in the open it potentially could be used by black hat hackers to compromise just about any device they may see fit.

    That’s not to say that there isn’t any protection against this malware. Usual defense tactics can go a long way in keeping you protected such as keeping your devices operating system up to date and patched, and not clicking on unknown attachments or downloading shady programs and apps.

  • Geebo 10:57 am on March 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Marines United,   

    Marine scandal highlights Facebook’s hypocrisy about moderating objectionable content 

    Marine scandal highlights Facebook's hypocrisy about moderating objectionable content

    Facebook has been criticized in the past when it has removed pictures of mother’s breast feeding or breast cancer survivors showing their mastectomy scars as objectionable content. Yet Facebook let a closed Facebook group where Marines and Marine veterans traded explicit pictures of female Marines taken without their consent remain active for months.

    The group called ‘Marines United’ not only posted these pictures on Facebook, but they often included personal information of the women portrayed in these pictures. The group was first exposed by a website called War Horse which is a nonprofit news organization run by a Marine veteran. War Horse requested that the images be removed but the group wasn’t shut down until Facebook received a request from the Marine Corps itself and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Both the Corps and the NCIS are conducting investigations into the matter.

    To further show Facebook’s lack of consistency in these matters the BBC conducted their own investigation into Facebook when it was claimed in England that there were private pedophile groups on Facebook sharing questionable material. In their investigation the BBC posted several questionable but not illegal images to Facebook. According to the BBC the photos were in direct violation of Facebook’s terms of service in regards to the posting pictures of children, however, the pictures were not removed. When the BBC sent the pictures to Facebook’s office in the UK rather than discussing the matter with the BBC, Facebook reported the BBC to the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

    How can Facebook not only portray itself as family friendly, let alone advertiser friendly, when it continues to host objectionable, and possibly dangerous, content like this. Just because Facebook may consider itself the only game in town doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be held to certain standards of decency let alone its own terms of service barring such material.

  • Geebo 11:32 am on March 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Uber embroiled in another scandal for allegedly using cop blocking app 

    Uber embroiled in another scandal for allegedly using cop blocking app

    Rode sharing app Uber has found itself in the headlines again, and once again it’s not for any good reason. Previously, Uber has been in the news for picking up fares at New York City airports during protests against President Trump’s proposed immigration ban. Then they found themselves dealing with allegations of a culture that allegedly promoted sexual harassment among corporate executives. This isn’t even mentioning Uber’s CEO getting into a shouting match with one of Uber’s drivers over working conditions. Now, Uber is being accused of using a program called Greyball that they would use to track investigators who were looking into Uber’s business practices.

    Greyball is said to not only help identify potential investigators and those acting on behalf of these investigators but would also put fake cars called ‘ghost cars’ on their app in order to fool investigators on where local Uber cars are.

    Instead of issuing a mea culpa, Uber is actually defending the use of Greyball by claiming that they’re protecting their drivers from physical harm and protecting Uber itself from its competitors. They even admit that they’re trying to disrupt users who are in collusion with investigators.

    When a company is admittedly active trying to obfuscate its business practices from investigators, it tends to mean that there’s something behind investigator’s allegations. Backpage is a perfect example of this kind of behavior. The question is will Uber’s userbase delete the app over questionable acts, or will they continue to use Uber over a matter of simple convenience?

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