Latest Technology News

American schools are banning Zoom and switching to Microsoft Teams

Zoom logo on a building

After many schools adopted Zoom to conduct online lessons during the coronavirus lockdown, concerns about security and privacy have led to a ban on the video conferencing software across the US.

The chancellor of New York City's Department of Education Richard A Carranza sent an email to school principals telling them to "cease using Zoom as soon as possible". And he is not alone; schools in other parts of the country have taken similar action, and educators are now being trained to use Microsoft Teams as this has been suggested as a suitable alternative, partly because it is compliant with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).

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Zoom enables meeting passwords and virtual waiting rooms by default as it attempts to beef up security

Zoom icon

Zoom's skyrocketing popularity in recent weeks has been both a blessing and a curse for the company. Clearly it welcomes the additional users and, presumably, the income generated, but the company has also found itself under the spotlight resulting in startling revelations about security and privacy.

Having already apologized for a series of issues, Zoom is not taking steps to improve security. In an email sent out to users, the company explains how the virtual waiting room feature will be enabled by default, and meeting participants will now be required to use passwords to join.

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Zoom admits to routing some US calls through China

Angled Zoom logo

As if the various privacy and security concerns that have plagued Zoom recently had not been enough, now it has been revealed that the company has been routing some calls made in North America through China.

Asking whether Zoom is a "US company with a Chinese heart", security researchers at Citizen Lab reported their discovery that during test meetings, encryption and decryption keys were routed through a server in Bejing. This raised eyebrows, and the company has now tried to explain what happened and issued its second apology this week.

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Security researcher discovers vulnerabilities in iOS and macOS that could be exploited to hack webcams

Angled Apple logo

After discovering a no fewer than seven security vulnerabilities in Safari for iOS and macOS, a researcher has received a $75,000 bug bounty pay out from Apple.

Ryan Pickren, a former Amazon Web Services (AWS) security engineer, found a series of security flaws in Apple's web browser, some of which could be exploited to hijack the camera of a Mac or iPhone to spy on users. The webcam hacking technique combined a total of three zero-day bugs.

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Legacy VPNs facing unprecedented modern security threats

Remote work is the future. Remote work is our new reality. Even though Gartner predicted that by 2020, half of the US workforce will be working remotely, no one could have anticipated it to become ubiquitous given the COVID-19 outbreak. The once-familiar 9-to-5 office environment as we know it has changed dramatically, and now, nearly everyone has been forced to work from home for the foreseeable future. This change is also expected to become permanent for many companies given the various benefits this model provides.

This rapid global transformation has forced the largest amount of people to work remotely in history. With millions of people connecting to their corporate networks from their homes, network infrastructure is being taxed like never before, creating new issues of internet overload and skyrocketing VPN usage.

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Enterprise AI, ground truth, and the 'corona effect'

Nothing in our lifetimes has prepared us for what's happening in our world today. We've certainly had our share of major catastrophes in the past 100 years -- both natural and man made -- but nothing matches the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are living in a time when fundamental assumptions about how our societies function are being thrown out and re-written with blinding speed.

The degree of global disruption is unprecedented in scope and scale, and we're still in the early phases. Given the confluence of medical, social, political, and economic factors, we have not yet reached the peak of the impact, and the world we'll inherit as the storm tide recedes will be significantly changed, and changeable. This is not to suggest that "the end is nigh" or that all changes wrought by the pandemic will be bad. But the undeniable truth is that we are experiencing an unexpected and extreme test of our AI technologies and their ability to automate and improve our ability to make good decisions quickly in increasingly complex situations. With respect to AI, we are entering an especially critical phase.

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Microservices, identity, and privacy by design

Part 2: The advent of Microservices has dramatically opened up the ability to rapidly develop and update applications and services. This is done by breaking them into very small pieces, where each piece can be managed by a single team or one team can manage several pieces. Each of these pieces then comes together with hundreds or thousands other pieces to create a larger framework or workflow. They are at the heart of the DevOps methodology, and an expectation today with the idea of a continues development or continuous delivery mindset.

This provides application and service owners the ability to rapidly scale, update, and develop their services is something that most modern business application service owners want. This also makes businesses run more efficiently. An example is when you need more delivery job servers, with Microservices you spawn more job services and you don’t go down.  Easier and more efficient. However, in today’s world, we need to remember that privacy and security have to be top concerns. And in today’s world, Microservices are lacking in this area.

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How real-time AI can help make decisions throughout the customer journey

Artificial intelligence

When it comes to making quick, real-time business decisions, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has proven to be a vital component of any effective business strategy. This is reflected in statistics showing how AI implementation jumped from 48 percent in 2018 to 72 percent in 2019. As technology continues to improve, no doubt this number will continue to increase with AI becoming an even larger asset to improve your operational capacity.

If utilized correctly, real-time AI has the ability to vastly improve real-time decisions for companies throughout the customer journey – from acquisition through to customer service and customer retention.

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Ubuntu Linux 20.04 LTS 'Focal Fossa' Beta now available for download

Today is Friday, meaning later this afternoon, we will officially be starting the weekend! Woo-hoo! Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, many of us will be spending our weekend downtime indoors once again. Sigh. The weekend is far less exciting when you've been self-quarantining for weeks due to a pandemic.

Thankfully, we can all still have plenty of fun while indoors thanks to the internet. Not only can we stream video and music, but we can play online video games too. If you are a computer nerd, however, I have a much better suggestion -- install the Ubuntu Beta! That's right, Linux fans, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS "Focal Fossa" Beta is now available for download. This doesn't just include the "vanilla" GNOME version either, but other variants like Kubuntu and Xubuntu as well.

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Hands-on with Facebook's relaunched Messenger for Windows and Mac

As the world goes into lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic, staying in touch with loved ones both near and far has never been more important. The explosion in popularity for video chatting makes it entirely appropriate that Facebook should relaunch Messenger on the desktop platform with support for video group calling.

In addition, brand new versions of Facebook Messenger for Windows and Facebook Messenger for Mac finally bring all Messenger features to the platform along with some major new video-chat features.

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IBM Open Source Community Grant goes to internship and mentoring program Outreachy

IBM logo

Last October, IBM began awarding quarterly grants to encourage diversity and inclusion among the open source community.

The company has today announced the winner of its second grant as Outreachy, an organization that provides internships in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) for people from under served communities.

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Apple accidentally leaks details of its unreleased AirTags tracking tags

Apple AirTags

Heads are likely to be rolling at Apple after details emerged online about its unreleased AirTags. A video that references the tracking tags appeared on Apple's official Support account on YouTube but it was removed after the company seemingly realized its mistake.

The revelation came in a video tutorial about how to erase data from an iPhone. In the footage, a screen can be seen which makes reference to AirTags under an Enable Offline Finding heading.

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qBittorrent warns users not to install the Microsoft Store version

The developers of one of the most popular torrent clients, qBittorrent, warn users not to install the Microsoft Store version of the application.

The warning, which is displayed on the release notes page on the official qBittorrent website, informs users that the Microsoft Store version is not created by the team nor officially licensed or sanctioned by the original development team. In addition, the Microsoft Store release is not free but needs to be purchased.

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How to lock down Zoom to improve your privacy and security

Zoom logo on a building

Zoom has received a lot of attention because of the increased number of people working from home, some good, some bad. There have been various security and privacy issues with the video conferencing app, but there are steps you can take to lock things down a little.

Following numerous controversies, Zoom has not only issued an apology but also put a stop on the development of new features while it gets itself in order. In the meantime, there are a various things you can do to increase your privacy and security when you're using Zoom.

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Best Windows 10 apps this week

Three-hundred-and-eighty in a series. Welcome to this week's overview of the best apps, games and extensions released for Windows 10 on the Microsoft Store in the past seven days.

Microsoft released an out-of-band patch for Windows 10 version 1903 and 1909 to address a connectivity issue.

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