Software

Russia, China, Included in US Government’s “Do Not Buy” List

Russia, China, Included in US Government’s “Do Not Buy” List

The Defense Department’s Ellen Lord revealed this week that the US government has included software and equipment originating from Russia and China in its “Do Not Buy” list. Lord added that manufacturers from these countries do not not operate in a way that is consistent with US defense standards.   The products and equipment, which were shielded through holding companies, were identified with the help of partners in the intelligence community.  However, the names of the manufacturers were not disclosed.   Source: ZDNet

Amazon’s Facial Recognition Misidentifies 28 Lawmakers in New Study

Amazon’s Facial Recognition Misidentifies 28 Lawmakers in New Study

A recent study commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California found a number of inaccuracies with Amazon’s facial recognition technology which was said to have disproportionately put people of color at risk. During testing, Amazon’s Rekognition technology misidentified 28 members of Congress as people arrested for a crime. However, the technology is already being used by law enforcement in Oregon and Orlando. The ACLU said that the findings should prompt regulators to stop the use of face surveillance by law enforcement. Two months before the study, the Congressional Black Caucus had already written to Amazon saying that […]

Top Google Exec Warns Against Biases of Facial Recognition Technology

Top Google Exec Warns Against Biases of Facial Recognition Technology

Google’s director of cloud computing, Diane Greene, recently told in an interview that facial recognition technology still has inherent biases and does not yet have the diversity it needs. The comment came after Amazon’s software wrongly identified 28 members of Congress, disproportionately people of colour, as police suspects. Greene also said that Google is still improving the reliability of its facial recognition technology by gathering vast sums of data. While the firm’s technology is currently being used to help identify friends in pictures, it is still not open for public use. Source: BBC

US Intelligence Warns Against Tech Supply Chain Attacks

US Intelligence Warns Against Tech Supply Chain Attacks

The US National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) recently warned in its Foreign Economic Espionage Report that countries such as China, Russia, and Iran are gearing up attacks made via the technology supply chain. NCSC director William Evanina said that cyber-actors are now targeting supply chains to get around tough corporate perimeters. One example is the booby-trapped version of CCleaner – a computer-cleaning program – which was discovered last September. The intelligence community further added that software supply chain infiltration has already threatened critical infrastructure and is likely to hit other sectors next. Source: BBC

Apple Fixes iPhone “Taiwan” DOS Bug

Apple Fixes iPhone “Taiwan” DOS Bug

Apple recently announced that it has recently fixed a bug that causes the iPhone to crash whenever the word “Taiwan” or the Taiwanese flag was mentioned or displayed in any app. Discovered by researcher Patrick Wardle, the bug was fixed in a security update released last Monday, after the release of iOS 11.4.1. Wardle said the devices would crash due to a memory error in how the operating system processes and removes certain emojis when the regional settings are incorrect. In doing so, it would return a “null” value, which caused the crash.   Source: ZDNet

Facebook Tests Augmented Reality on American News Feeds

Facebook Tests Augmented Reality on American News Feeds

Facebook revealed last Tuesday that it is testing augmented reality ads on its News Feed in anticipation of the holiday shopping season in the United States. The company, which has already had success with AR ads on Messenger, says that users will be able to  virtually interact with different products, like trying on accessories to visualizing furniture in a room. Brands like Sephora, Bobbi Brown, Pottery Barn, Wayfair will start testing the new ad concept as soon as this summer. The company also said that it has expanded the shopping feature on Instagram stories which can be used to buy […]

Google’s Shift to Algorithm for Ads Criticized by Privacy Experts

Google’s Shift to Algorithm for Ads Criticized by Privacy Experts

Google’s move to increase reliance on algorithms for its new ad purchasing tools are being met with criticisms from consumer privacy and tech analyst who say that machine learning present risks of discrimination and privacy intrusions in advertising. While the use of Google’s advanced ad software was welcomed by advertisers as it made their spending more efficient, it may allow targeting ads based on users based on race by proxy unbeknownst to the company by relying on other information that approximates race, according to Harvard University fellow and former public policy staffer at Facebook Inc. Dipayan Ghosh. Further concerns were […]

Spyware Thief Caught in Dark Web Sting Ops

Spyware Thief Caught in Dark Web Sting Ops

Israeli authorities revealed that they have recently caught a programmer who attempted to sell surveillance tools stolen from security firm NSO Group on the dark web. The criminal was reportedly a former employee who swiped the code after learning that he was going to be sacked. The tool was put up for sale at the price of $50 million in crypto-cash. Israel’s Justice Ministry said that national security would have been undermined had the criminal been successful in selling the tool, but the defendant’s legal team argued otherwise. The NSO Group has been known in the past for developing software […]

WhatsApp India Says Government, Society Need to Cooperate to Fight Misinformation

WhatsApp India Says Government, Society Need to Cooperate to Fight Misinformation

In a letter to India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, WhatsApp said that fake news and misinformation can best be tackled through the collective action by the government, civil society and technology companies. The letter was in response to a recent lynching incident in the western state of Maharashtra where five people were accused of being child abductors on WhatsApp. Because of this, the Ministry asked the tech firm to immediately prevent the circulation of false news. Aside from adding more safety controls, WhatsApp says they will be publishing new educational materials around misinformation and conduct news literacy workshops. […]

Social Media Apps Deliberately Being Made to be Addictive, Insiders Say

Social Media Apps Deliberately Being Made to be Addictive, Insiders Say

Silicon Valley insiders recently revealed in an interview that tech companies are intentionally engineering their apps to be as addictive as possible. Aza Raskin, a former Mozilla and Jawbone employee, likened it to “behavioural cocaine” which tech firms sprinkle all over the interface so that the user keeps coming back and back and back. Raskin formerly worked at Humanized, a computer UI consultancy and is also the inventor of the infinite scroll feature used in most apps today. Likewise, co-inventor of Facebook’s Like button Leah Pearlman said that she began depending on Facebook for validation and to stave off loneliness […]