John Lister

Thu
12
Apr
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Amazon Patent Eavesdrops, Targets User Ads

Amazon has patented a system for listening to devices in order to better target advertising to users. But it says it doesn't use the feature in its gadgets. The patent dates back to an initial application in 2011, but the most recent version was not ... approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office until last November and has only recently been made public. The basis of the patent is 'sniffer' technology, though that's used as an analogy to reflect the idea that the devices wouldn't permanently capture and store what people were saying. Instead they would use trigger words. Saying 'Like' Would ... (view more)

Wed
11
Apr
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New Ransomware Demand: Play Video Game, Not Cash

A newly unleashed ransomware attack doesn't force victims to pay money to regain access to files. Instead, it demands they play a video game. It's not clear yet what the point of the attack is, though it's most likely the work of a prankster who ... wants to test their skills at creating and distributing ransomware without doing any permanent harm. Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts files on a computer and normally only unlocks them if the victim pays a fee. In most cases every file on the computer is encrypted, meaning that victims are locked out of their systems and unable to access ... (view more)

Tue
10
Apr
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YouTube's Under-13 Policy In Question

Consumer groups say YouTube is breaking the law by collecting data about pre-teens without parental permission. They've asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate. The alleged breach is of the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act ... (COPPA), a federal law that significantly restricts the way sites can handle data about users aged under 13. That's why many major websites that have user accounts officially ban pre-teens from signing up with their services. That's not quite the case with YouTube. Users do have to be 13 or older to get a Google account, which is necessary for some ... (view more)

Thu
05
Apr
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Chrome Browser PC Scans Come As Surprise

Google Chrome users have been surprised to discover that the Chrome browser scans their computers in search of malware. It doesn't appear to be a reason to panic, but arguably Google could have been more up front about it. The scans were spotted by ... Kelly Shortidge who works at a cyber security company. She noticed that the chrome.exe executable file (which is visible in Windows Task Manager) was scanning files in her Windows documents folder. On further investigation, she discovered Chrome has been doing this since around October, 2017. The scans are being done through Chrome Cleanup, a tool ... (view more)

Wed
04
Apr
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Apple Watch May Have Blown Murder Alibi

A murder suspect's alibi has been thrown into doubt by data on the victim's Apple Watch. The smartwatch appears to show the victim died much earlier than the suspect claims. Caroline Nilsson is accused of killing her mother-in-law Myrna Nilsson in ... 2016. Police were called to the house just after 10 pm when a neighbor saw Caroline come out of the house wearing a gag. Myrna was found dead inside the home. In her defense, Caroline claims that her mother-in-law was followed home by a group of men in a utility vehicle and argued with them outside for 20 minutes. Caroline claims she was in her ... (view more)

Tue
03
Apr
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Google Cracks Down On Cryptomining Scams

Google is banning Chrome browser tools that harness a computer's power to 'mine' virtual online currencies for a third party. It seems Google gave up trying to distinguish between different levels of legitimacy in such set-ups. The whole concept of ... "cryptomining" using a web browser may seem baffling to many users. In the simplest terms, the cryptomining program could automatically load when visiting a particular web page or would always remain active (if it was through a browser extension). The users' computer would then "mine" (using mathematical equations) until a ... (view more)

Thu
29
Mar
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Billion Dollar Cyber Crime Chief Finally Caught

A man has been arrested for allegedly stealing more than a billion dollars in cyber attacks. The tactics were so outlandish, they almost sounded like the words used by Richard Pryor's character in Superman III. The unnamed man was arrested in Spain ... after an investigation that involved officials from six countries on three continents plus private cyber security firms. The man is alleged to have led a gang that attacked more than 100 banks and other financial institutions around the world. The gang has been operating for at least three years using three forms of malware, known as Anunak, ... (view more)

Wed
28
Mar
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Google Speech Synthesis Gets More Realistic

Google says it's made the most realistic computer speech simulation ever. It uses artificial intelligence to reproduce the way humans put words together. The idea of Google's "Cloud Text-to-Speech" is to go beyond the traditional approach when ... dealing with speech synthesis. That effectively boils down to recording a batch of sound files of different syllables, then patching them together to form words. That works well for some languages such as Japanese, where speech patterns are very regular, but not so well for language such as English that have more complexity with pronunciation. Full ... (view more)

Tue
27
Mar
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Facebook Admits: We Log All Your Calls and SMS History

Facebook users have been shocked to discover it stores the phone numbers of people who've never signed up to the site, along with the SMS and voice call histories of some users. But Facebook insists that users have explicitly given permission for ... such data storage. The site's data storage and sharing policies came back under the spotlight with the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, when a journalist revealed that information gathered about users and their friends for a psychological study was shared without permission for use in political ad targeting. Since then, many users have been taking ... (view more)

Thu
22
Mar
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US Blamed for Sophisticated Router Malware

Last week security researchers said a piece of malware named "Slingshot" was so sophisticated it was backed by a government. Now it appears that government was the United States and that the revelations may have compromised an anti-terror campaign. ... The original reports didn't name the country involved. That might not quell controversy, however the reports came from Kaspersky Labs, a security company based in Russia. Slingshot exploited a bug in a specific brand of routers. In simple terms, it was able to take advantage of the way the router updated its operating software on an ... (view more)

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