Posts tagged " facebook "

Amazon files for Alexa patent that means she’s listening all the time

April 17th, 2018 Posted by News No Comment yet

The Amazon Alexa of the future could be listening to you all the time – and building up a detailed picture of what you want to buy.

That’s the suggestion of a patent filed by the company that details the idea of ‘voice-sniffing’ technology. Such software would allow the device to eavesdrop on conversations and analyse them, feeding that into a database for ads.

At the moment, Amazon’s Echo products are hardwired so they will only listen to users when they say the “Alexa” wake word. Amazon has denied that it uses voice recordings for advertising at the moment, and said that the patent might never actually come to the market. 

Alexa’s voice capabilities are currently used for playing music, controlling smart home devices and ordering things on Amazon, though only if the user asks for it. The recordings of people’s voices are stored on Amazon’s servers, but they can listen to those files and delete them.

However, the patent gets to a widespread fear about not only Amazon’s voice assistant but other technology too. A range of conspiracy theories – particularly about Facebook – suggest that companies are using their kit to secretly listen in on their customers, and then using that to show ads. 

The patent suggests that the Alexa of the future could listen out for specific words such as “love” or “hate”. The device could then listen to what people like or don’t like – and suggest they buy things, presumably through Amazon, on that basis.

If someone mentions they want to go on a journey to Paris, for instance, an ad might pop up suggesting the travel site they could book it from. If they say that they are looking to go to a particular restaurant on a particular day, it might ‘whisper’ that there is a table available. 

Amazon could even do the same for friends or relatives of the customer, the patent suggests. So, for instance, if someone says their parents are interested in a certain topic, it could associate that information with the person and use it to build up advertising data.

The company made clear that it does and is not able to collect such data at the moment, and might never use the technology described in the patent.

“We take privacy seriously and have built multiple layers of privacy into our Echo devices,” said an Amazon spokesperson. “We do not use customers’ voice recordings for targeted advertising. Like many companies, we file a number of forward-looking patent applications that explore the full possibilities of new technology. Patents take multiple years to receive and do not necessarily reflect current developments to products and services.

Amazon Echo uses on-device keyword spotting to detect the wake word. When these devices detect the wake word, they stream audio to the Cloud. You can review voice interactions with Alexa by visiting History in Settings in the Alexa App.

 

 
 
 

What to do if your business Social Media account is hacked

August 16th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Even if you’re embarrassed, it’s important to let people know that you’ve been hacked – and most importantly, set up your accounts and educate staff to avoid it happening again.

If a business’s social media accounts are hacked, it can be hugely detrimental to its reputation and relationship with the public.

Here, security experts and social media professionals share advice on how to handle a hack and restore your company’s image.

Change passwords on all accounts

First, determine whether you’re still able to log into the hacked account.

“If you can log in, change the passwords on all your social media accounts – not just the ones that have been hacked,” advises Romain Ouzeau, chief executive of Iconosquare, an Instagram analytics company. “As some social media platforms offer the ability to log in via other sites and services [Tweetdeck, for example], you may be compromised on additional networks.”

As a general rule, Rob Brown, vice president of the Chartered
Institute of Public Relations
 (CIPR), advocates the use of a different password for each social media platform. “Update passwords every two months, choosing longer passwords that contain different characters, and use two-step verification if a social media service offers it,”
he says.

If you’re not able to log in, head straight to the social media company’s contact pages and tell the relevant team that you’ve been hacked.

Clean up the mess

If you’ve been hacked, there’s a chance that communications will have been sent from your account by the offender.

“If this happens, take a screen grab of the content before removing it,” says Lee Campbell, cyber computing lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire. “Then report the breach to the social media provider.

“If the compromised social media account includes content of a threatening, or abusive nature, report it to the police via Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.”

Communicate and take control

Even if you’re embarrassed, it’s important to let people know that you’ve been hacked.

“Post an update from the reclaimed hacked account, stating what has happened and that unauthorised changes and/or communications may have occurred,” says Blaise Grimes-Viort, chief services officer for social media business, The Social Element.

“If any private or direct messages have been sent, contact those who received them directly to tell them what happened and that they shouldn’t click on any of the links that were sent.”

It’s also worth checking to see which third-party apps (auto post tools, for example) are connected to your social media profile. Review the list and delete any that you no longer use. If you keep seeing unwanted content posted through your account, you may want to revoke access for all third-party apps.

Prevention is the best plan

“If you have a response plan in place before an attack happens it means there are clear actions for employees to take – this helps members of staff act quickly and can help with damage limitation” recommends Microcomms in-house Cyber Security expert Richard Howard.

“The majority of cyber attacks are caused by human error – deliberate or not – so employee training and communication is vital and should also cover advice on spotting suspicious activity, such as phishing emails.”

There are also some simple things that you, as a business owner, can do to improve security across your network. Use the latest antivirus software, run frequent scans for malware (malicious software) and perform a regular off-site backup of your systems.

You can manually adjust the settings on your [social media] account profile pages, restricting who can see your posts, photos and user profile. Also, tighten access to your mobile devices by setting a pin number of at least six digits on each.

Microcomms carry out cyber security health checks, staff training and will provide advice and recommendations to keep your business well protected from attack.

How to spot ‘Fake’ News

May 8th, 2017 Posted by News No Comment yet

Facebook has broadened its campaign to raise awareness about fake news, by publishing adverts in the UK press. The ads, in papers including The Times, The Guardian and Daily Telegraph, carry a list of 10 things to look out for when deciding if a story is genuine.

They include checking the article date and website address, as well as making sure it isn’t intended as satire.

“People want to see accurate information on Facebook and so do we,” said Simon Milner, Facebook’s UK director of policy. “To help people spot false news we are showing tips to everyone on Facebook on how to identify if something they see is false.”

Facebook’s ten steps for spotting fake news

  1. Be skeptical of headlines. False news stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.
  2. Look closely at the URL. A phony or look-alike URL may be a warning sign of false news. Many false news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the URL. You can go to the site to compare the URL to established sources.
  3. Investigate the source. Ensure that the story is written by a source that you trust with a reputation for accuracy. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organization, check their “About” section to learn more.
  4. Watch for unusual formatting. Many false news sites have misspellings or awkward layouts. Read carefully if you see these signs.
  5. Consider the photos. False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photo may be authentic, but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from.
  6. Inspect the dates. False news stories may contain timelines that make no sense, or event dates that have been altered.
  7. Check the evidence. Check the author’s sources to confirm that they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.
  8. Look at other reports. If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is reported by multiple sources you trust, it’s more likely to be true.
  9. Is the story a joke? Sometimes false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humor or satire. Check whether the source is known for parody, and whether the story’s details and tone suggest it may be just for fun.
  10. Some stories are intentionally false. Think critically about the stories you read, and only share news that you know to be credible.

 

The spread of fake news across social media was accused by some of influencing the US presidential election in 2016.

Example of fake news story on Facebook

Example of fake news story on Facebook

Facebook has not gone so far as to accept that but its latest report acknowledges that there was some activity which “required action”.

With the UK election just a month away today there is added pressure to crack down on it in Britain.

The creators of fake news make money because of the clicks on the ads they carry. Google and Facebook say they are committed to blocking them from using ad services but they are still popping up.

It’s interesting and perhaps a sign of Facebook’s older membership that it has chosen traditional print media to help spread its message in the UK.

The ten tips are sound advice and will be well-known to journalists already as standard checks. The difficulty is that if the link pops up in your Facebook news feed because it’s been shared by one of your friends or relatives, you’re likely to be more inclined to accept it at face value.

The power of word-of-mouth as a marketing tool is well known to both marketing professionals and scammers alike.

Balloon Masts

EE Shows off helium balloon mobile masts

February 22nd, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Mobile phone provider EE has demonstrated helium balloons and drones that could provide 4G mobile coverage following damage to existing infrastructure.

The devices are fitted with small mobile sites that include a base station and an antenna.

They could also be used to connect remote parts of the UK where coverage is thin.

EE said it planned to deploy such a network in a UK rural area this year.

BBC Drone Explanation

BBC Drone Explanation

The drones can stay airborne for up to an hour at a time and the “helikite” balloons for several weeks as they have a tethered power source.

The drone was designed to give short-term targeted coverage to aid search and rescue situations, EE said.

Innovation is essential for us to go further than we’ve ever gone, and deliver a network that’s more reliable than ever before,” said EE chief executive Marc Allera.

“Rural parts of the UK provide more challenges to mobile coverage than anywhere else, so we have to work harder there – developing these technologies will ultimately help our customers, even in the most hard to reach areas.”

It was the first time this had been tried out in the UK, said Kester Mann, analyst at CCS Insight.

Everyone immediately thinks of disruptive players like Facebook and Google when it come to things like balloon-based networks. The traditional networks need to step up so they don’t get left behind,” he told the BBC.

Google is developing a network of huge balloons to provide connectivity to rural areas around the world, known as Project Loon.

Last month the tech giant confirmed it had closed its internet drone project, Titan, which was designed to bring the internet to remote rural areas.

Facebook’s Project Aquila involves building solar-powered aircraft which will fly for months at a time above remote places, beaming down an internet connection.

 

Article first published on the BBC Technology pages 21st Feb 2017

 

ransomware attack

Facebook denies Ransomware attack

December 1st, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Thanks to TechNewsWorld for the information below:

hacker_facebook_attack

Facebook on Monday denied that its network and Messenger app were being used to spread ransomware to its users, contradicting the claims of researchers Roman Ziakin and Dikla Barda.

The two researchers last week reported they had discovered a new method for delivering malicious code to machines, which they dubbed “ImageGate.” Threat actors had found a way to embed malicious code into an image, they said.

Due to a flaw in the social media infrastructure, infected images are downloaded to a user’s machine, Ziakin and Barda explained. Clicking on the file causes the user’s machine to become infected with a ransomware program known as “Locky,” which encrypts all the files on the infected machine. The user then must pay a ransom to the purveyor of the malicious software in order to decrypt the files.

Facebook has disputed the findings

“This analysis is incorrect,” Facebook said in a statement provided to TechNewsWorld by spokesperson Jay Nancarrow.

“There is no connection to Locky or any other ransomware, and this is not appearing on Messenger or Facebook,” the company maintained.

“We investigated these reports and discovered there were several bad Chrome extensions, which we have been blocking for nearly a week,” Facebook noted. “We also reported the bad browser extensions to the appropriate parties.”

Consumer Protection

While Ransomware is always a serious threat to consumers, this new twist on its distribution raises the bar even higher.

Anti-virus specialists have commented, “Consumers simply do not expect malware to be delivered via a Facebook message. Most people probably consider social media sites to be a safe space, so the lack of concern and vigilance makes it powerful as a potential infection channel for malware.”

For consumers concerned about an ImagteGate attack, it is recommended that you do not open any files downloaded to a device after clicking any image. The same is true for image files with unusual extensions, such as SVG, JS or HTA.

Users should also keep their operating system and antivirus software up to date, and make backups. Even if you’re never infected with ransomware, you never know when something might go wrong with your machine.

If you are concerned about Cyber Security at your company – speak to our experts today hello@microcomms.co.uk or call 01209 843636.