In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Administration, the installation of mass surveillance equipment in cities across Europe, and disclosure of multiple massive user data leaks, people have been forced to confront the dystopian reality that big government has stepped into the role of Big Brother. What has been less discussed is the proliferation of little brothers, corporations that closely monitor their workers as a matter of course, using a variety of new technologies.
Researchers have created a machine that they claim can tell if a person is a convicted criminal simply from their facial features. The artificial intelligence, created at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, was able to correctly identify criminals from a selection of 186 photos nine out of 10 times by assessing their eyes, nose and mouth.
If you have an internet-connected home appliance, such as a crock-pot, a lightbulb, or a coffee maker, you can control it from the comfort of your smartphone. However, a bug in the Android app that controls some of those devices made by a popular manufacturer also allowed hackers to steal all your cellphone photos and even track your movements.
Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down. We don’t know who is doing this, but it feels like a large nation state. China or Russia would be my first guesses.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai thinks we are now living in an “artificial intelligence-first world.” He’s probably right. Artificial intelligence is all the rage in Silicon Valley these days, as technology companies race to build the first killer app that utilizes machine learning and image recognition. Today, Google announced an AI-powered assistant built into its new Pixel phones. But there’s a pivotal downside to the company’s latest creation: Because of the very nature of artificial intelligence, our data is less secure than ever before, and technology companies are now collecting even more personal information about each one of us.
Last week, hackers forced a well-known security journalist to take down his site after hitting him for more than two days with an unprecedented flood of traffic.
That cyberattack was powered by something the internet had never seen before: an army made of more than one million hacked Internet of Things devices.
The hackers, whose identity is still unknown at this point, used not one, but two networks—commonly referred to as “botnets” in hacking lingo—made of around 980,000 and 500,000 hacked devices, mostly internet-connected cameras, according to Level 3 Communications, one of the world’s largest internet backbone providers. The attackers used all those cameras and other unsecured online devices to connect to the journalists’ website, pummeling the site with requests in an attempt to make it collapse.