Thursday, April 5, 2018

PSA: That Facebook quiz may be hackers mining your personal information.

Social media quizzes – especially popular on Facebook – seem innocent enough. But taking the quiz might mean you are giving away more about yourself than you originally thought, and may extend to your friends as well.

These quizzes ask seemingly silly or useless questions, but hackers can use that information to penetrate your social accounts and gain access to your personal information or the information of your friends and family.

Some quizzes are designed to steal your data in an outright scam. Once answered, hackers can easily hijack personal accounts and use them to lure in more victims. The hackers will include links embedded in the quiz that can cause a security breach of your personal accounts.

But the latest news shows that it isn’t just scammers who are interested in your quiz answers. It turns out, your personal information is big business.

Not all social media quizzes are about unprincipled data collection, but the Better Business Bureau cautions users to be careful about what they share online. Profile data, quiz answers, and more can be used to used to steal your money, or let a scammer pretend to be you in order to steal someone else’s money.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The battle of the dating apps...Tinder sues Bumble!

Match Group, the company that holds a large portfolio of dating services, such as Tinder, Match.com, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, to name a few, and was in talks last year to purchase the dating service Bumble. Match is still looking to acquire the service, but it’s going about it in an unconventional way: by suing it for patent infringement.
On Friday, Match filed a lawsuit that accuses Bumble of infringing on a pair of patents held by Tinder: one called “Matching Process System and Method,” in which users swipe cards and mutually select one another, as well as “Display Screen or Portion Thereof With a Graphical User Interface of a Mobile Device,” which it describes as an “ornamental aspect” of Tinder’s App. The lawsuit also points to similarities between each companies’ apps, and Bumble’s descriptions of “swiping” run afoul of Tinder’s registered trademarks.
In a statement to The Verge, a Match spokesperson said that the company has “invested significant resources and creative expertise in the development” in its products, and was working to enforce its property rights.
Last November, TechCrunch reported that Bumble had turned down the $450 million offer, but that talks were still ongoing, which could leverage for Match to encourage Bumble to join its portfolio: accept the buyout, and the lawsuit goes away.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Alexa is alive!

It's quiet in the house. Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse. Suddenly you hear a woman's laughter...but where is it coming from?

No, you're (probably) not being haunted, it's just Amazon's Alexa voice assistant malfunctioning in a profoundly creepy way.

Some Alexa users have reported hearing an unprompted laugh from their smart speaker devices in the last day. The laugh is three short "Ha" sounds in a female voice that actually doesn't sound like Alexa's normal voice. It happens randomly, when nobody is using the device, or in response to request to turn on or off lights.

Amazon is aware of this and working to fix it. The company has not elaborated on what was causing the laugh or how widespread it is.

Alexa's laugh isn't the only thing that's freaking out users. Others have claimed Alexa has stopped responding to requests. One Twitter user said their Amazon Echo suddenly began listing names of local funeral homes and cemeteries, also unprompted.

Of course, when voice assistants start acting on their own, it also raises concerns about what artificial intelligence might be capable of. But it's unlikely that Alexa has become sentient and is intentionally frightening users with the laughs.