Tech Firms Raid Security Flaws with ‘Bug Bounty’ Programs

In the security world, “bug bounty” programs are becoming more common, from Facebook to the Department of Defense. Hackers who can reveal the hidden vulnerabilities of a device, system or corporation can reap significant financial rewards. Apple launched its program in 2016 and offers payouts of up to $1 million for the most elusive flaws. The tech giant reportedly spent $3.7 million on such exercises in the 12-month period ending in July 2021, during which time Google shelled out $6.7 million and Microsoft spent $13.6 million. Such programs have become a valuable tool in security maintenance, putting hackers’ inquisitive natures to productive use.  Continue reading Tech Firms Raid Security Flaws with ‘Bug Bounty’ Programs

Media Consortium Reveals Extent of Pegasus Spyware Reach

A consortium of media outlets dubbed the Pegasus Project found that Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group licensed its military-grade spyware Pegasus to governments that used it to hack 37 smartphones of business executives, human rights activists and journalists. Two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khasghoggi were also reportedly targeted. Amnesty International and journalism non-profit Forbidden Stories shared a list of 50,000 phone numbers that dates to 2016 and included the 37 targets. New evidence also suggests that thousands of iPhones worldwide may have been compromised.  Continue reading Media Consortium Reveals Extent of Pegasus Spyware Reach

GPT-3: New Applications Developed for OpenAI’s NLP Model

OpenAI’s natural language processing (NLP) model GPT-3 offers 175 billion parameters, compared with its predecessor, GPT-2’s mere 1.5 billion parameters. The result of GPT-3’s immense size has enabled it to generate human-like text based on only a few examples of a task. Now, many users have gained access to the API, and the result has been some interesting use cases and applications. But the ecosystem is still nascent and how it matures — or whether it’s superseded by another NLP model — remains to be seen. Continue reading GPT-3: New Applications Developed for OpenAI’s NLP Model

WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Hackers have reportedly been injecting Israeli spyware onto smartphones via the popular Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp. The surveillance software, named Pegasus, was developed by Israeli firm NSO Group and can access an iPhone with a single missed voice call on WhatsApp. NSO claims that it carefully vets its customers; the company’s software is intended for government agencies to combat crime and terrorism. While it is currently unknown how many users may have been affected at this point (the problem was first discovered in early May), WhatsApp says it has created a patch to address the vulnerability. Continue reading WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Security Alert: Apple Urges iPhone Users to Update Their iOS

The NSO Group, an Israeli firm that sells software for invisibly tracking mobile phones, is believed to be responsible for leveraging three security vulnerabilities in Apple devices to spy on journalists and dissidents. The software can reportedly be used to access passwords, emails, text messages, calls, contacts and more. Apple fixed the security flaws 10 days after two researchers provided the tip. The company urges all users to download the latest version of iOS. “Apple on Thursday released a patched version of its mobile software, iOS 9.3.5,” reports The New York Times. “Users can get the patch through a normal software update.” Continue reading Security Alert: Apple Urges iPhone Users to Update Their iOS

Pegasus Global to Build Entire City in New Mexico for Technology Testing

  • Tech development firm, Pegasus Global Holdings, recently announced its plans to build a “fake” city in New Mexico for the sole purpose of testing green and next-gen technologies.
  • “The Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation” — which will have all the infrastructure of a fully operational city (including water, power and standard roads) — is expected to take up 20 square miles of desert and cost $200 million to build.
  • According to Pegasus Global, the city will offer a one-of-a-kind “opportunity to replicate the real-world challenges of upgrading existing city infrastructure to that of a 21st Century smart city, operating within a green economy.” The company will encourage companies and organizations to “test the benefits and costs of their proposed next-generation innovations and technologies, hardware and software.”
  • “While the specific technologies that will be developed using The Center remain to be seen, Pegasus Global has a few ideas in mind, including the ability to test the true cost of solar implementation, smart grid technology, next-gen wireless networks, Intelligent Transportation System technologies and driverless cars,” reports Digital Trends.