ThiefQuest Is New Ransomware and Spyware Aimed at Macs

K7 Labs malware researcher Dinesh Devadoss discovered a new form of malware aimed at Mac computers. ThiefQuest (originally dubbed EvilQuest, until researchers discovered that’s the name of a Steam game) isn’t simply ransomware but also contains spyware that allows it to exfiltrate an infected computer’s files, search it for passwords and cryptocurrency wallet data, and nab passwords and credit card numbers. Even after a computer reboots, the spyware lingers as a backdoor that could be used for a second-stage attack. Continue reading ThiefQuest Is New Ransomware and Spyware Aimed at Macs

European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

After failing to have much of an impact on Google with its $8+ billion fine, the European Union devised new regulations, the Digital Services Act (DSA), to rein in Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The new strategy is to create basic rules for data-sharing and digital markets operations. The U.S. is preparing another case against Google, and the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is calling for a “new pro-competition regulatory regime” to control Facebook, Google and other Big Tech companies. Continue reading European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

Facebook Unveils Three Prototype Holographic VR Headsets

Facebook just revealed a holographic optical architecture for a future VR headset that will be both thinner and lighter, replacing the current bulkier glasses and headsets. The technology, described in “Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality,” a Siggraph 2020 research paper, uses a “pancake optics” design that combines layers of holographic film with a laser projection system and directional backlights. The results can be either flat imagery or volumetric holograms. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Three Prototype Holographic VR Headsets

Big Tech Firms Face More EU Scrutiny, Facebook Loses Case

The European Union increased its efforts to regulate major U.S. technology companies, including Amazon, Apple and Google, with a new tool that allows it to investigate any potential antitrust issue and force changes without proving illegality. EU antitrust head Margrethe Vestager warned that the tech behemoths potentially risk being broken up as a “last resort” if they don’t adhere to the rules. Meanwhile, a German high court ruled against Facebook finding it abused its social media dominance to illegally harvest user data. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Face More EU Scrutiny, Facebook Loses Case

Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

The Justice Department is scrutinizing Apple’s App Store rules, specifically the requirement that app developers use Apple Pay, which takes up to a 30 percent cut. Since mid-2019, lawyers have been interviewing app developers about their experiences with Apple. Developers have pushed back by blocking subscriptions and payments on their apps or charging higher rates on iPhone apps. The DOJ’s antitrust resources are focused on Google’s dominance in digital advertising, which may result in a case as early as this summer. Continue reading Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

WWDC: Apple Unveils New Silicon Chips, macOS, iOS, More

At WWDC this week, Apple officially announced its plan to move from Intel chips to ARM-based “Apple Silicon” chips. With its own chips, Apple will no longer have to rely on Intel’s update cycles. It also means that Apple will be able to bring its customized neural engines to Macs for tasks that use machine learning. Apple stated that developers will be able to create apps that run on ARM-based Macs in Xcode’s new version, which will also continue to support Intel x86 Macs. Additionally, the company announced iOS 14 (with home screen widgets), iPadOS 14 (with Scribble handwriting-to-text conversion), macOS and Safari upgrades, spatial audio for AirPods Pro, Apple TV updates, and more.  Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils New Silicon Chips, macOS, iOS, More

Apple Confirms Transition From Intel Chips to Its Own Design

At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this week, Apple revealed that after years of development, it’s ready to replace Intel’s chips with its own custom-made ARM processors. Apple will be able to customize its circuitry for AI, 3D image rendering and other specific uses, with a focus on powerful, energy-efficient processors. The company expects its migration to silicon to take about two years, with its first ARM-based Macs shipping later this year. It will continue to ship Intel-based Macs in the short term and says it plans years of support for Macs with Intel processors. Continue reading Apple Confirms Transition From Intel Chips to Its Own Design

Neeva: A New Search Engine With No Ads or Data Collection

Former Google executive in charge of advertising Sridhar Ramaswamy has launched Neeva, a search engine that will not show ads or collect information about users. At Google, Ramaswamy became disillusioned by how the need for constant growth disadvantaged consumers. He decided to leave shortly after questionable videos featured ads — automatically served by Google’s algorithms — for Deutsche Bank, Amazon, eBay and Adidas. His epiphany was that “an ad-supported model had limitations.”   Continue reading Neeva: A New Search Engine With No Ads or Data Collection

Apple Rejects Facebook App, Calls for Antitrust Probe Grow

Apple rejected Facebook Gaming’s submission to the App Store for at least the fifth time since February. Sources said that, with each rejection, Apple referred to its rules that don’t allow apps with the “main purpose” of distributing casual games. Apple’s App Store is the only officially approved venue for iPhone and iPad owners to find new games (and other programs), which generated about $15 billion in revenue last year. Microsoft president Brad Smith said antitrust regulators need to look at the practices of app stores. Continue reading Apple Rejects Facebook App, Calls for Antitrust Probe Grow

Apple is Next Target of European Commission Investigations

European Commission executive vice president in charge of competition Margrethe Vestager is ramping up her scrutiny of U.S. tech giants, including Apple and Amazon. She’s currently targeting Apple’s “gatekeeper” position with third-party apps and Apple Pay. She is also looking more closely at Amazon’s position in online retail. Bloomberg Intelligence antitrust analyst Aitor Ortiz, however, noted that the $9 billion fine she levied against Google didn’t stop the tech giant from continuing to dominate search. The fines “don’t really have a deterrent effect,” he concluded. Continue reading Apple is Next Target of European Commission Investigations

Snapchat Aims to Compete With AR-Centric Digital Platform

Snap is planning to compete directly with Apple, Facebook and Google by creating a complete digital platform, with an app store, expanded games service and ability for third-party developers to build augmented reality experiences with its machine-learning models. Further, Snap is permitting other apps to integrate its camera software and include businesses and users’ friends into its maps. Snapchat has grown to 229 million daily users, versus Twitter’s 166 million, but is still smaller than Instagram and Facebook. Continue reading Snapchat Aims to Compete With AR-Centric Digital Platform

Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

In May, according to App Annie, the encrypted messaging app Signal was downloaded one million times worldwide, a result of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the more recent protests over George Floyd’s death and police brutality. Sensor Tower reports that Signal currently has 32.4 million installs. Privacy advocates have always been attracted to Signal’s ability to limit the information it can give to authorities. Signal’s end-to-end encryption is considered more secure than what is offered by Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage. Continue reading Use of Messaging App Signal Skyrockets During Civil Unrest

Facing Increased Scrutiny, Big Tech Seeks Political Support

While federal regulators are scrutinizing Amazon, Facebook and Google, the Big Tech companies are fighting to protect themselves by helping to fund a wide range of political groups that act as allies. One such group is the Connected Commerce Council (3C), a Washington-based nonprofit that describes itself as an advocate of small businesses — but also counts Amazon, Facebook and Google as “partners.” Meanwhile, the European Commission is reportedly going to levy formal antitrust charges against Amazon in the next two weeks. Continue reading Facing Increased Scrutiny, Big Tech Seeks Political Support

Apple Plans to Unveil Its New Chips at Developer Conference

As early as June 22, at its annual developer conference WWDC, Apple may reveal its plan to replace Intel chipsets with its own internally developed ones, code-named Kalamata. Sources indicate that announcing Kalamata this time of year will give third-party developers time to shift gears before the new Macs debut in 2021. Apple’s new chips will be based on the same technology as those in iPhones and iPads, although Macs will continue to run the macOS operating system rather than iOS software of the mobile devices. Continue reading Apple Plans to Unveil Its New Chips at Developer Conference

Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

Anthill’s latest version of interactive storytelling app Whatifi is now available in the Apple App Store. Founded by Jaanus Juss and Hardi Meybaum, who have been exploring interactive storytelling in their native Estonia via live theater, the startup enables users to “choose their own adventure” in two stories: “As Dead as it Gets” and “Anatomy of a Decision.” The first is a “drunken night with a few bros” that turns into a supernatural fantasy. A character on the verge of death, the viewer must follow the advice of ghosts to return to the land of the living. Whatifi is now based out of Los Angeles and Estonia. Continue reading Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

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