Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for September 2018

Facebook Security Flaw

leave a comment »

The New York Times is reporting that Facebook said today an attack on its computer network led to the exposure of information from nearly 50 million of its users.

Facebook said it discovered the breach earlier this week, “finding that attackers had exploited a feature in Facebook code that allowed them to take over user accounts.”

The Times reports that Facebook said it did not know the origin or identity of the attackers, nor had it fully assessed the scope of the attack, and is in the beginning stages of its investigation.

Here’s Facebook’s detailed explanation of the exploit and the actions it says it has taken:

Our investigation is still in its early stages. But it’s clear that attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook’s code that impacted “View As”, a feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else. This allowed them to steal Facebook access tokens which they could then use to take over people’s accounts. Access tokens are the equivalent of digital keys that keep people logged in to Facebook so they don’t need to re-enter their password every time they use the app.

Here is the action we have already taken. First, we’ve fixed the vulnerability and informed law enforcement.

Second, we have reset the access tokens of the almost 50 million accounts we know were affected to protect their security. We’re also taking the precautionary step of resetting access tokens for another 40 million accounts that have been subject to a “View As” look-up in the last year. As a result, around 90 million people will now have to log back in to Facebook, or any of their apps that use Facebook Login. After they have logged back in, people will get a notification at the top of their News Feed explaining what happened.

Third, we’re temporarily turning off the “View As” feature while we conduct a thorough security review.

This attack exploited the complex interaction of multiple issues in our code. It stemmed from a change we made to our video uploading feature in July 2017, which impacted “View As.” The attackers not only needed to find this vulnerability and use it to get an access token, they then had to pivot from that account to others to steal more tokens.

The Times goes went on to write that:

One of Facebook’s most significant challenges has been convincing its users that it is responsible enough to handle the incredible wealth of data the company handles. More than 2 billion people use Facebook every month, and another two billion separately use WhatsApp, a messaging app owned by Facebook, and Instagram, the Facebook-owned popular photo-sharing app.

You know the drill.  Check your password, change it, etc ad nauseum ad infinitum.

Written by turbotodd

September 28, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Posted in 2018, cybersecurity

Tagged with , ,

Explaining AI Decisions

leave a comment »

IBM’s Institue of Business Value recently issued a new report concerning the implementation of AI, and according to a survey of 5,000 executives, discovered that 60 percent of those polled said they were concerned about being able to explain how AI is using data and making decisions in order to meet regulatory and compliance standards.

According to a story in The Wall Street Journal, there’s concern that:

AI decisions can sometimes be black boxes both for the data scientist engineering them and the business executives telling their benefits. This is especially true in deep learning tools such as neural networks that are used to identify patterns in data, whose structure roughly tries to mimic the operations of the human brain.

But just as in high school geometry, the question arises as to how to demonstrate one has proved their work. That is to say, to reveal how the AI system arrived at a specific conclusion.

The Journal identifies measures IBM took last week which include cloud-based tools that can show users which factors led to an AI-based recommendations. 

The tools can also analyze AI decisions in real-time to identify inherent bias and recommend data and methods to address that bias. The tools work with IBM’s AI services and those from other cloud services providers including Google, said David Kenny, senior vice president of cognitive solutions at IBM.

You can learn more about those measures in this blog post.

Written by turbotodd

September 27, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Walmart’s Leafy Green Blockchain

leave a comment »

TechCrunch recently reported on an initiative in which Walmart has been working with IBM on a food safety blockchain, and that Walmart would be requiring all suppliers of leafy green vegetables for Sam’s and Walmart upload their data to the blockchain by September 2019.

TechCrunch’s story notes that “most supply chains are bogged down in manual processes,” making it difficult to track down food safety issues like E. coli romain lettuce. But “by placing a supply chain on the blockchain, it makes the process more traceable, transparent and fully digital.

Each node on the blockchain could represent an entity that has handled the food on the way to the store, making it much easier and faster to see if one of the affected farms sold infected supply to a particular location with much greater precision.

Walmart has been working with IBM for over a year on using the IBM Food Trust Solution use case in this scenario.

Most notable is the time compression involved. The story notes that before moving the process to the blockchain, it typically took approximately 7 days to trace the source of food. With the blockchain, that has been reduced to 2.2 seconds, which means that also “substantially reduces the likelihood that infected food will reach the consumer.”

You can learn more about the IBM Food Trust blockchain solution here.

Written by turbotodd

September 26, 2018 at 11:16 am

SiriusXM Serious About Acquiring Pandora

leave a comment »

Big deal in the works this Monday morning.

CNBC’s reporting that SiriusXM is going to buy Pandora in an all-stock deal valued at $3.5 billion. 

As The New York Times writes about the deal, “Pandora rose to success by providing tailored radio stations for its users that were sprinkled with ads” but that in recent years “it has struggled to compete with rival services like Spotify and Apple Music.

The Times also notes that Pandora has been a potential acquisition target for at least two years, and that SiriusXM had been in the running to buy the company since it injected $480 million of funding into the company last year.

The agreement between SiriusXM and Pandora includes a “go-shop” provision where Pandora “may actively solicit, receive, evaluate, and potentially enter negotiations with parties that offer alternative proposals following the execution date of the definitive agreement.”

The company’s acquisition of Pandora would make SiriusXM the world’s largest audio entertainment company, with over $7 billion in combined revenue in 2018.

Written by turbotodd

September 24, 2018 at 10:01 am

Posted in 2018, acquisition

Tagged with , ,

Tiger’s Triumph

leave a comment »

For golf fans everywhere, it was quite the past several days to witness the triumphant return of Tiger Woods to the top of the leaderboard at this year’s final PGA event, the Tour Championship.

Woods ended up beating Billy Horschel by two strokes with a final round one over par. However, he was 11 under for the tournament and his play on Saturday, especially the front nine, where he scored six birdies in nine holes, was nothing short of spectacular. 

This from a golfer who a year ago self-admittedly didn’t have a swing and wasn’t sure if he’d return to professional golf. Judging from the army of fans following him down the 18th fairway at East Lake, they were glad to see him back.

Now, it’s on to this weekend’s Ryder Cup at Le Golf National just outside Paris. Will the Americans be able to win two in a row? And will Tiger’s contributions in Paris measure up to his singular achievement this weekend?

We’ll find out this Friday!

Written by turbotodd

September 24, 2018 at 9:32 am

Posted in 2018, golf, PGA, pga tour

Tagged with , ,

Adobe To Buy Marketo

leave a comment »

TechCrunch reported late yesterday that Adobe is buying marketing automation company Marketo for $4.75 billion:

“The acquisition of Marketo  widens Adobe’s lead in customer experience across B2C and B2B and puts Adobe Experience Cloud at the heart of all marketing,” Brad Rencher, executive vice president and general manager, Digital Experience at Adobe said in a statement.

Adobe’s press release had this to say about the deal:

Adobe (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Marketo, the market-leading cloud platform for B2B marketing engagement, for $4.75 billion, subject to customary purchase price adjustments. With nearly 5,000 customers, Marketo brings together planning, engagement and measurement capabilities into an integrated B2B marketing platform. Adding Marketo’s engagement platform to Adobe Experience Cloud will enable Adobe to offer an unrivaled set of solutions for delivering transformative customer experiences across industries and companies of all sizes.

Marketo’s platform is feature-rich and cloud-native with significant opportunities for integration across Adobe Experience Cloud. Enterprises of all sizes across industries rely on Marketo’s marketing applications to drive engagement and customer loyalty. Marketo’s ecosystem includes over 500 partners and an engaged marketing community with over 65,000 members.

This acquisition brings together the richness of Adobe Experience Cloud analytics, content, personalization, advertising and commerce capabilities with Marketo’s lead management and account-based marketing technology to provide B2B companies with the ability to create, manage and execute marketing engagement at scale.

And why marketeers should care, according to Marketing Land:

Adobe’s Creative Cloud services has long been part of the marketing industry standard for creating and managing media-rich assets. Now with the addition of Marketo’s B2B marketing automation platform, Adobe will be able to deliver a full-scale marketing solution, allowing marketers — and their marketing technology teams — to unify costs within a single layer of their martech stack.

Written by turbotodd

September 21, 2018 at 11:20 am

Close Those Circles

leave a comment »

As goes Wichita, so goes Wichita Falls.

Reuters is reporting that one of America’s oldest and largest North American life insurance firms, John Hancock, will stop underwriting traditional life insurance and instead sell only interactive policies that track fitness and health data through wearable devices and smartphones.

Reuters story indicates that policyholders score premium discounts for hitting exercise targets tracked on wearable devices such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch and get gift cards for retail stores and other perks by logging their workouts and healthy food purchases in an app.

Presumably that doesn’t include buying pints of Chocolate Häagen-Dazs.

Privacy and consumer advocates have already raised the alarm, wondering whether insurers like John Hancock could use the data to select for more profitable customers, and penalizing those who don’t close all their Apple Watch circles every day.

And you thought it was just a cool digital watch you could show off to your friends!

Written by turbotodd

September 20, 2018 at 10:16 am

%d bloggers like this: