Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘cybersecurity’ Category

Texas Two Step

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CNBC is reporting that Twitter and Facebook have suspended numerous accounts they say are tied to a Chinese disinformation campaign against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Twitter indicated it had suspended 936 accounts likely related to the activity, and that the information was designed to sow political discord in Hong Kong. Facebook removed seven pages, three groups and five accounts, one of which had 15,500 followers.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, the computer systems of 23 small Texas towns have been seized and held for ransom in a widespread, coordinated cyberattack, according to a report from The New York Times.

Texas’ Department of Information Resources was “racing to bring systems back online” after the attack, and it was unclear who was responsible but that the state had described the attacker as “one single threat actor.”

Last year, there were 54 publicly reported attacks on city, county/state governments, court systems, emergency services, and school districts in Texas. So far this year there have been 61 (excluding these most recent attacks).

Now comes that lingering question: Pay the ransom and get your systems back, or lose a lot of data, time, and resources and possibly rebuild from scratch?!

You can learn more about IBM Security solutions here.

Written by turbotodd

August 20, 2019 at 9:41 am

Posted in 2019, cybersecurity, twitter

Tagged with , , ,

A Picture’s Worth…

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If you’re wondering what happened to your images on Facebook’s News Feed, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger….well, you and over a billion other people.

The Verge is reporting that Facebook is working to resolve the outage and “to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”

This once again proves the complexities and challenges of publishing multiple pieces of content from multiple sources into a single page. Welcome to the cloud-driven Web of 2019.

But let’s talk soccer. We witnessed yet another storied defeat by the U.S. women’s team last evening in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, beating England 2-1, in a game which missed play of wunderwoman Megan Rapinoe due to a hamstring injury.

Those women are awesome (give them a raise!).

On to the dealmaking…talk all over the place about a possible acquisition of cybersecurity firm Symantec by Broadcom, with Bloomberg reporting Broadcom is in advanced talks to buy them in a deal that could be reached “in weeks.”

From Bloomberg Intelligence:

Broadcom’s potential purchase of another asset with $4+ billion in software sales is likely its most ambitious deal yet – leaderless Symantec has been losing share, even in its core segments. Broadcom CEO Hock Tan will likely need to aggressively cut Symantec costs while keeping sales stable.

– Anand Srinivasan, technology analyst

And on to Chimerica…Mixed signals emanating from the Trump Administration on Huawei, with Reuters reporting a senior U.S. official telling the Commerce Department’s enforcement staff this week that China’s Huawei should still be treated as blacklisted only a few days after the President vowed to ease a ban on sales to the firm.

While Commerce tries to get its story straight, Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that there’s an electronics exodus from China underway:

Global consumer electronics makers HP, Dell, Microsoft and Amazon are all looking to shift substantial production capacity out of China, joining a growing exodus that threatens to undermine the country’s position as the world’s powerhouse for tech gadgets.

HP and Dell, the world’s No. 1 and No. 3 personal computer makers who together command around 40% of the global market, are planning to reallocate up to 30% of their notebook production out of China, several sources told the Nikkei Asian Review.

While this is just smart supply chain management and oversight by electronics firms, it’s a blow to China, which is the world’s largest producer of PCs and smartphones.

It could be a very good time to learn to speak Vietnamese!

Okay, over and out. For those of you in the U.S., Happy Independence Day. And if you’re in D.C. for the big celebration, you can be assured the tanks brought in are expected to be stationary.

But watch your feet, just in case.

Written by turbotodd

July 3, 2019 at 2:37 pm

LinkedIn, Algoed Up

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Happy Tuesday.

Yesterday was a bad tooth day. I had my first root canal since I don’t want to remember when. 

The headphones with classic rock with Pandora, some deep bone antisthetic shots to fully numb my tooth, and a steady stream of nitrous oxide made a root canal a nearly fun experience. 

Endondontists everywhere, more nitrous for all root canals.

While I was down in the endo’s chair, I learned this AM how a small ISP in Pennsylvania “tanked a big chunk of the Web” yesterday.

According to a story from Slate’s “Future Tense,” a Web outage in the Northeast affected “Verizon users and thousands of Website serviced by Cloudflare.”

Cloudflare provides security and performance services to 16 million websites and demonstrates how “one little error…can cause swaths of the Web to break with little warning.”

The outage started around 7 a.m. and affected Verizon before spreading to Amazon Web Services, web-hosting provider WP Engine, live-streaming platform Twitch, Reddit, and several others.

While we wait for the 404s to fade away, know that Axios is reporting some big time algo changes over at LinkedIn.

Axios reports the company has made the algorithm changes over the past 12-18 months to favor conversations in the LI feed that cater to “niche professional interests,” as opposed to elevating viral content. 

Specifically, Axios reports LinkedIn is focused on:

  • Elevating content that users are most likely to join in conversation, which typically means people that users interact with directly in the feed through comments and reactions, or people who have shared interests with you based on your profile.
  • Elevating a post from someone closer to a users’ interests or network if it needs more engagement, not if it’s already going viral.
  • Elevating conversations with things that encourage a response (like opinions commentary alongside content), as well as posts that use mentions and hashtags to bring other people and interests into the conversation and elevating posts from users that respond to commenters.
  • Elevating niche topics of conversation will perform better than broad ones. (When it comes to length, LinkedIn says its algorithm doesn’t favor any particular format, despite rumors that it does.)

This matters because…advertisers want higher-quality engagement, which in turn leads to happier advertisers, which in turn leads to more ad revenue for LI.

Have *you* noticed a difference in your LI feed?

Written by turbotodd

June 25, 2019 at 10:04 am

No Slackers

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Greetings from my South Austin bunker on a hill.

There’s an onslaught of relevant tech news this AM. First, let’s cover off the mo-nay situations.

Slack is expected to go public today, and it’s direct listing reference price has been set at $26. That would value Slack at roughly $15.7B

In case you didn’t know what a direct listing is, The Wall Street Journal explains:

In a

direct listing

, a company simply floats its existing stock onto a public exchange without raising any money or using underwriters. The company doesn’t choose an IPO price or who gets to buy in the night before trading begins, as is the case in a traditional IPO. Spotify Technology SA, which made its trading debut in April 2018, is the only other major company to go public via direct listing.

I think, therefore I Slack. All day, every day.

So, good luck, Slackers everywhere.

You know who’s not Slack? Apple, which, according to a report from Nikkei and as reconnoitered in The Verge, is looking at moving between 15 and 30 percent of its hardware production out of China and has apparently asked key partners like Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron to “evaluate the available options.”

The catalyst for the shift is the ongoing trade war between China and the US, which is expected to intensify at the end of this month with the

introduction of 25 percent tariffs

on devices including phones, laptops, and tablets. However, Apple reportedly wants to shift production regardless of whether the trade dispute gets resolved.

Florida’s Riviera Beach has decided to pay $600K in ransom to hackers that took over its computer system. It was a classic email spearphish attack that led to ransomware situation, and, according to a report from the AP, spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown “said Wednesday that the city of 35,000 residents has been working with outside security consultants, who recommended the ransom be paid.”

I guess that whole “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” thing is an outdated trope when it comes to the cyber realm, because it appears more and more municipalities are paying the ransom, as opposed to just saying “No.” Call me old fashioned, but just saying “Yes” simply invites more such attacks.

And yes, the payment is being made via Bitcoin.

Closing on a positive note. Fresno-based Bitwise Industries, which offers training for software developers, has raised a $27M Series A round led by Kapor Capital, which will allow the firm to potentially expand its training to other unusual suspect, underserved cities for tech (like El Paso, Texas, and Knoxville in Appalachia).

As James Fallows writes in The Atlantic:

“Some people have had opportunities by accident, and others do not,” she said [Irma Olguin, from venture firm New Voices Fund]. “We need to make those opportunities less a matter of chance and serendipity, and more a matter of deliberately creating opportunities and exposing young people to different possibilities for their lives.”

Written by turbotodd

June 20, 2019 at 10:52 am

Broad Spectrum

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Happy Friday.

It appears that Amazon is interested in buying prepaid mobile wireless service Boost Mobile from US carriers T-Mobile and Sprint.

According to a report in Reuters, Amazon is considering buying Boost because the deal would allow it to use the “New T-Mobile” wireless network for at least six years.

New T-Mobile is the name that T-Mobile and Sprint use to refer to the new entity that would result from their merger, one that still requires regulatory approval.

Reuters also reported that Amazon would be interested as well in any wireless spectrum that could be divested as part of the deal.

Analysts estimate that Boost has seven to eight million customers and a transaction could be valued at $4.5 billion if the deal included wireless spectrum and facilities.

Meanwhile, we’re getting some of our first public looks at Uber earnings…the company reported $3.1B in revenue in Q1, which was up 20% year-over-year, and gross bookings of $14.65B dollars, up 34% year-over-year but with a net loss of $1.01B.

From CNBC:

On a call with analysts, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he likes “what we see on the competitor front in the U.S.,” referencing Lyft’s earnings call where executives said they are beginning to compete more on brand.
“I think that competing on brand and product is, call it, a healthier mode of competition than just throwing money at a challenge,” Khosrowshahi said.

If you’re a Chrome user and interested in security, see this piece from WIRED, one entitled “Google is finally making Chrome extensions more secure.”

The improvements come as part of a wider company push to evaluate how much user data third-party applications can access. Google launched the audit, known as Project Strobe, in October alongside an announcement that Google+ had suffered data exposuresand would be shuttered.
Later this year, Google will begin requiring that extensions only request access to the minimum amount of user data necessary to function. The company is also expanding its requirements around privacy policies: Previously, only extensions that dealt with personal and sensitive user data had to post the policies, but now extensions that handle personal communications and other user-generated content will need to articulate policies, as well. Google says it is announcing these changes now so developers have time to adapt before the new rules take effect this fall.

Some funding news: BabbleLabs, which is focused on improving speech quality, accuracy, and personalization in voice apps, has raised a $14M Series A. The round was co-led by Dell Technologies Capital and Intel Capital.

Written by turbotodd

May 31, 2019 at 11:23 am

Flipping the Flipboard

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And there it is…another cybersecurity breach.

This time with news aggregator service and mobile news app, Flipboard.

ZDNet reports the security incident allowed hackers to have access to internal systems there for nine months.

Nine months!

“Flipboard said hackers gained access to databases the company was using to sore customer information.”

And Flipboard said those databases stored information that included Flipboard user names, passwords, and “in some cases, emails or digital tokens that linked Flipboard profiles to accounts on third-party services.”

But good news, “not all [customer] accounts were compromised.”

FYI, the breach period was roughly June 2, 2018 to March 23, 2019, and April 21-22, 2019.

The company discovered the second intrusion on April 23.

Could be time to flip off the Flipboard.

Written by turbotodd

May 29, 2019 at 9:29 am

Posted in 2019, cybersecurity

Tagged with , ,

Facebook’s Teen Problem

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CNBC had a story out yesterday citing data from investor analyst firm Piper Jaffray which indicated that teens are abandoning Facebook “at a staggering rate.”

But went on to say they’re still “flocking to sister app Instagram.”

Palo Alto, we have a problem.

The CNBC article indicated that just over a third of teenagers use the core Facebook platform at least once a month.

I wonder if a third of those are from Russia??

That number is “down significantly from 52 percent of teens two years ago and from close to two-thirds of teens in spring of 2016.”

On the plus side, Instagram “edged out SnapChat as the most-used social platform by teenagers for the first time” since Piper Jaffray started conducting its survey.

So, marketeers everywhere, uh, take more pictures?  

Maybe you can use that newfangled Apple iPhone XR, which is getting rave reviews across the board (and which comes in several hundred dollars less than the iPhone XS).

Speaking of Russians, The New York Times is reporting that the U.S. Cyber Command is now targeting individual Russian operatives “to try to deter them from spreading disinformation in elections.”

The campaign, which includes missions undertaken in recent days, is the first known overseas cyberoperation to protect American elections, including the November midterms.

Senior defense officials said they were not directly threatening the operatives. Still, former officials said anyone singled out would know, based on the United States government’s actions against other Russian operatives, that they could be indicted or targeted with sanctions. Even the unstated threat of sanctions could help deter some Russians from participating in covert disinformation campaigns, said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former intelligence official now with the Center for a New American Security.

Huh.  That only took a couple of years to get rolling.

Written by turbotodd

October 23, 2018 at 4:38 pm

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