CES: Sessions Examine the Potential of Quantum Computing

Two CES 2021 panels addressed the current state and anticipated advances in quantum computing, which is already being applied to problems in business, academia and government. However, the hardware is not as stable and robust as people would like, and the algorithms are not yet up to the task to solve the problems that many researchers envision for them. This has not stopped entrepreneurs, major corporations and governments from dedicated significant resources in R&D and implementations, nor from VCs and sovereign funds making major bets on who the winners will be. Continue reading CES: Sessions Examine the Potential of Quantum Computing

SEC, State Attorneys Investigate Zoom Over China Contacts

After several months of investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and two U.S. Attorneys’ offices, Zoom Video Communications revealed that it has provided investigators with information regarding its interactions with China and other governments in addition to security and user privacy issues. A former employee based in China, Xinjiang Jin (also known as Julien Jin) has been charged by the Department of Justice for helping the Chinese government halt a remote commemoration of the Tiananmen Square uprising. Continue reading SEC, State Attorneys Investigate Zoom Over China Contacts

Chinese Researchers Create Quantum Computing Benchmark

China’s top quantum research group said its Jiuzhang quantum computer produced results in minutes that would take 2+ billion years by the world’s No. 3 powerful supercomputer. That exceeds Google’s prototype quantum computer which, last year, came up with a result in minutes that it estimated would take a supercomputer 10,000 years. The two quantum computers work differently: China’s University of Science and Technology’s computer manipulates photons, whereas Google’s builds quantum circuits via super-cold superconducting metal. Continue reading Chinese Researchers Create Quantum Computing Benchmark

Amazon Sidewalk Rolls Out with Echo, Ring Software Updates

Amazon is slowly rolling out Amazon Sidewalk, first revealed in 2019 as an effort to create smart neighborhoods via wireless Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and 900MHz radio signals that can expand the connectivity reach to up to half a mile. Using a small amount of the home’s Wi-Fi bandwidth, Amazon Sidewalk can connect the user with any compatible device, such as garage door openers or outdoor lights, without any additional hardware. Amazon has unveiled it first as a free software update to Echo speakers and Ring cameras. Continue reading Amazon Sidewalk Rolls Out with Echo, Ring Software Updates

Google Launches New Google Pay, Readies Banking Service

Google is relaunching its Google Pay digital wallet and online payment system for Android and iOS with a raft of new features including the ability to connect to the user’s bank account for a searchable overview of finances. The company also plans to partner with banks in 2021 to offer its Plex, an online checking and savings account within the app. This more fully-featured Google Pay can now serve as a direct competitor to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, Venmo and other apps and services, as well as an online bank such as Ally. Continue reading Google Launches New Google Pay, Readies Banking Service

Facebook’s WhatsApp Will Offer Business-Focused Services

Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014 but has not yet earned revenue from it. The encrypted messaging service, free to its 2+ billion global users, now has a plan to monetize services. Rather than storing and handling customer data on their own, businesses will soon be able to do so via Facebook’s servers. In addition to hosting, businesses will also be offered options to market products through WhatsApp catalogs and Facebook shops and checkout carts, all for small fees. Continue reading Facebook’s WhatsApp Will Offer Business-Focused Services

IBM Advocates for Confidential Computing Security Standard

IBM and others are advocating the adoption of Confidential Computing, a standard that they state will provide deeper levels of security and privacy in the cloud. With encryption that can only be unlocked by keys held by the client, Confidential Computing guarantees that the company hosting data and applications can’t access the underlying data, regardless of whether it is stored in a database or passing through an application. That prevents hackers from accessing encrypted data when it moves to the application layer. Continue reading IBM Advocates for Confidential Computing Security Standard

Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

At its annual Zoomtopia event, Zoom announced the debut of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for free accounts in four stages. The first phase, which launches next week, will be a 30-day technical preview to gather feedback. Chief executive Eric Yuan stated the company will improve its integration of “office chatroom products” from Slack Technologies and Microsoft and also introduced its Zapps platform that allows users to bring third-party apps into video calls and a new integrated platform for classes and events. Continue reading Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

Amazon announced new smart home devices during its fall hardware event last week, including an expanded Fire Stick collection, redesigned Echo speaker lineup, and Ring in-home drone. Amazon is also launching its Luna cloud gaming service, and introducing Car Cam and Car Alarm to Ring’s lineup. Alexa’s capabilities have expanded, from being able to read books to children to a new security feature, Guard Plus, that can detect sounds around a user’s house and trigger dog-barking to scare off intruders. In times of COVID-19, said Amazon head of devices and services Dave Limp, “our homes have become our offices, our classrooms, movie theaters and more.” Continue reading Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

TikTok Used Privacy Loophole to Track Android Users’ Data

Google limits how Android apps track users, and it appears that TikTok violated this policy by collecting unique identifiers — called MAC addresses — from millions of mobile devices. In fact, TikTok seemed to have concealed this action via an added layer of encryption. TikTok, which has publicly declared it doesn’t share data with the Chinese government, ended the collection of MAC addresses in November. An AppCensus 2018 analysis found that about 1 percent of Android apps collect MAC addresses. Continue reading TikTok Used Privacy Loophole to Track Android Users’ Data

Prominent Twitter Accounts Hacked for Cryptocurrency Fraud

On Wednesday, scammers launched one of the most audacious attacks in recent memory, posting messages from the Twitter accounts of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Kanye West, Bill Gates and Elon Musk that if people sent Bitcoin, the famous person would send back double the money. The first attack targeted high-profile cryptocurrency leaders and companies, but soon broadened to include a list of prominent U.S. politicians and entertainment and tech executives. It appears that an internal Twitter account was involved in the attacks, but it has yet to be determined whether an employee was willfully complicit. Continue reading Prominent Twitter Accounts Hacked for Cryptocurrency Fraud

Comcast Inks Deal to Adopt Mozilla’s Firefox DNS Encryption

In a new partnership, Comcast will be the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) to offer users of Mozilla’s Firefox browser with private and secure encrypted Domain Name System (DNS) services via Mozilla’s Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) Program. Comcast’s DNS over HTTPS (DoH) will be activated by default for Firefox over Comcast’s Xfinity broadband network. Users will be able to switch to Cloudflare or NextDNS, which were already included in Mozilla’s program. No date of availability was released. Continue reading Comcast Inks Deal to Adopt Mozilla’s Firefox DNS Encryption

PACT Act Intends to Update Section 230, Protect Consumers

Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) introduced the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, which would hold Internet platforms such as Facebook and Google responsible for hosting illegal content and require them to reveal their moderation practices. The Act would change parts of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that shield such platforms from liability for the content their users post, and is intended to require platforms to quickly remove offending content. Continue reading PACT Act Intends to Update Section 230, Protect Consumers

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

Zoom Clarifies its Relationship with Law Enforcement and FBI

Zoom founder and chief executive Eric Yuan said his company will assist the FBI and law enforcement by providing end-to-end encryption only to paying customers, but not for the majority of those who use its free version, “in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose.” During widespread U.S. protests over the death of George Floyd, Yuan’s comments did not go over well, with some users threatening to switch to rival services. But his words were misinterpreted and taken out of context. “We plan to provide end-to-end encryption to users for whom we can verify identity, thereby limiting harm to vulnerable groups,” explained Yuan. Continue reading Zoom Clarifies its Relationship with Law Enforcement and FBI

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